Six candidates to be interviewed for Muscogee County AD

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 13, 2014 

The Muscogee County School District administration building is at 2960 Macon Road.

MIKE HASKEY — mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

Six applicants will be interviewed to be the Muscogee County School District's system-wide athletics director, superintendent David Lewis said Monday night.

Lewis plans to recommend one of the six undisclosed candidates for the board to approve at its Jan. 21 meeting.

Gary Gibson had been fulfilling those duties, as well as being the superintendent's executive assistant, before leaving the system last month to become the superintendent in Taylor County. In September, the board approved Lewis hiring former Polk County, Fla., colleague Rebecca Braaten to be the assistant superintendent here. Lewis was an assistant superintendent in Polk before the board hired him for Muscogee's top spot in July.

Braaten has assumed Gibson's administrative function, but Lewis wants the athletics director duties to be returned to a separate position. Gibson became solely the district's athletics director in 2007, but then-superintendent Susan Andrews added the executive assistant's duties to his portfolio in 2011 after Billy Kendall retired.

During the board's work session Monday night, Cathy Williams, the nine-member board's lone county-wide representative, asked Lewis why the district needs a system-wide athletics director. The AD is responsible for transportation, training, facility scheduling and compliance with district and state rules and policies, Lewis said. The AD also is in charge of athletics safety, including the concussion protocol and when practices or competitions are postponed or canceled due to extreme weather, Lewis said.

The salary Grade 25 starts at $66,666, said Kathy Tessin, the district's chief human resources officer.

New school's principal

Lewis has filled the principal's position at the district's newest school, Dorothy Height Elementary, which is under construction and on schedule to open in August.

Tammy Anderson, the principal at Cusseta Road Elementary, will be Height's principal. The administrative transfer will take effect in March.

Cusseta Road and Muscogee Elementary will close at the end of this school year and merge into the new school.

E-cigarette ban

The board moved closer to banning electronic cigarettes and other devices that simulate tobacco smoking.

Two board members spoke in favor of the administration's recommendation and none spoke against it. The board must wait 30 days for before adopting a policy change after it is introduced, so the vote will be at the Feb. 17 meeting.

The revisions would prohibit the use of an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), electronic vaping device, personal vaporizer, electronic nicotine delivery system or battery-powered device which simulates tobacco smoking.

"Whether it's just a vapor and doesn't have any addictive product, it's still going to be considered as a tobacco product under this new policy," Williams said. "It is very important because, as a society, we have to evolve as technology evolves. What started as a very interesting product to help people cease smoking has turned into a product that our students now use to deliver tobacco and other chemicals to their bodies, and we are going to say, 'No.'"

Board member John Wells of District 2 recalled the time several years ago when a student was suspended for bringing crushed leaves in a matchbox to school and passing it off as marijuana. So this policy change would be consistent with that thinking, he said.

"If you bring a fake gun to school, it's just like bringing a real gun," Wells said. "If you bring fake drugs to school and represent them like that and try to sell them, we treat them the same as if you brought drugs. If you bring a smoking device, we'll treat you the same way as if you brought a cigarette.

"… We don't want to teach them how to smoke on campus."

Lewis said he spoke with a colleague last week in another school district where a student had a seizure after smoking an e-cigarette that actually was synthetic marijuana.

"These are some of the really serious and dangerous sides effects of all of this," Lewis said.

Naming policy

Board chairman Rob Varner of District 5 said the board will be asked next week to authorize the formation of a subcommittee to recommend changing the board's policy on naming its schools.

The current policy allows the representative of the district in which the school is built to recommend the name for the board's approval. Williams has noted that policy precludes the at-large representative from having that privilege. Board members also have said a subcommittee would give more school employees and residents a chance to have their input considered.

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