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School board to negotiate Wooten’s contract extension
By Jennifer Edwards - TNValleyNow.com
Jim Hannon/TimesDaily
Muscle Shoals Board of Education president Pam Doyle speaks with Superintendent Jeff Wooten as board attorney J.R. Brooks looks on after adjournment of a single-agenda meeting Monday night.

MUSCLE SHOALS — Muscle Shoals school Superintendent Jeff Wooten will get up to one more year as the leader of the city’s school district.

The board voted 4-1 Monday to negotiate an extension of up to one year to the current contract, which was set to expire June 30.

School board members said the extension will allow Wooten to see through several large projects that began during his tenure, including building a new center for technology and an indoor athletic facility, school security upgrades and renovations to other athletics facilities.

Willis Thomas, vice president of the school board, said the continuity in leadership is important with several projects running simultaneously.

“This is best for the future of our school system,” Thompson said.

Board member Terri Snipes, who made the motion to negotiate the extension, said giving Wooten up to one additional year was in “the best interest of the community.”

Several board members, including Snipes, said they received many calls, emails and other communications from residents and interested parties about the contract and said that weighed into the decision the board made Monday night.

Wooten, who is in his 11th year as superintendent, said he was pleased with the board’s decision.

“There are many positive things going on in the district,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing those through. This next year will be a full year with many things we need to finish up.”

Wooten has a daughter who will graduate from high school next year. He said he wants to remain as superintendent at least until his daughter graduates.

The auditorium in the school board office was full of teachers, administrators, parents and residents, but none spoke when the meeting allowed for public comment.

Thompson and board president, Pam Doyle, will lead the negotiation process with Wooten.

Doyle was the lone dissenting vote. She said after the meeting that the board “will be careful in (its deliberation) of the contract extension.”

She said she voted against the move partly because she hoped to conclude the superintendent contract talks at the meeting.

“I am only one vote,” she said. “Regardless of the outcome, this is the democratic process.”

Doyle said the annual evaluation of Wooten’s job performance will be considered in the negotiation process. The evaluation process was changed in December to include input from other central office administrators and school principals.

Sherry Isbell, president of the Muscle Shoals Education Association and a teacher at Muscle Shoals High School, was pleased with the board’s decision. She said having a knowledgeable and experienced superintendent will be key in navigating the upcoming education changes.

“We need stability in our leadership,” she said. “The state is undergoing radical changes in the common core (curriculum), in course testing with a new diploma, and they are changing their mind every other day.

“We need somebody going to Montgomery that is familiar with the process and who has connections and can keep us informed and abreast of what’s happening.”

Jennifer Edwards can be reached at 256-740-5732 or jennifer.edwards@timesdaily.com.

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