Originally created 04/16/04

Board approves vacation rules



New vacation policies sparked by the controversial $94,000 payout to Superintendent Charles Larke were approved in a divisive 7-3 vote Thursday by the Richmond County Board of Education.

Three trustees voted against them, saying they were upset that not everyone had time to review the proposals. The six-member personnel committee created new policies April 1, and a few of those not on the committee saw four pages of policy changes for the first time Thursday.

"To get the policies tonight and be asked to vote on something that's been so controversial for so long, I can't support it," board member Kenneth Echols said. "There were even questions during the board meeting tonight. ... I think we should have given it another month. There was no rush."

Board member Barbara Padgett explained that her no-vote was to support those who didn't see it.

"You can't sit there at a board meeting and pay attention to what's going on and read," she said.

John Seitz, who voted no, continued his silence on the superintendent's vacation payout. He refused any comment after the meeting.

"I'm going home," he said.

Marion Barnes, the head of the personnel committee, said he didn't finish summarizing the new policies until Thursday. But he said Mr. Echols and other members could have attended the April 1 meeting where policies were discussed.

"We just need to get it out of the way and move on to something else," he said. "But they had an opportunity to participate."

The changes effectively force Dr. Larke to get permission from the board president to work during holidays. New policies also allow employees just 20 days of vacation carryover each year and give all certified 12-month employees two vacation days a month.

The new policies have an entire section devoted to the superintendent, requiring an annual report to the board showing his cumulative carryover days or paid, unused vacation days.

The section ends with a promise intended to prevent future controversy: "It is the policy of the School Board that the Superintendent of Schools is given a fair and ample opportunity to enjoy uninterrupted vacation days to the extent possible."

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.