DeKalb School Board extends Thurmond's contract
Ken Watts | 10/8/2013, 10:48 p.m.
Michael Thurmond will lead the DeKalb School System a while longer after the School board on October 7 extended his contract.
“Mr. Superintendent, congratulations,” said school board chairman Dr. Melvin Johnson to audience applause after the unanimous 8-0 vote at Monday’s meeting. “You are no longer ‘interim.’ You’re a superintendent.”
Thurmond’s contract was set to expire on Feb. 8, 2014 because he had committed to stay for only a year when he was hired. Thurmond stated many times that he wants to return to his law practice at Butler Wooten & Fryhofer.
But after a month of talks with the board, Thurmond reached a new agreement with the DeKalb School District that calls for him to remain as superintendent until June 30 2015. His $275,000 salary won’t change.
Thurmond had no background in education when he was hired by the previous school board, but had strong leadership experience serving in the Georgia House of Representatives, as head of the Division of Family and Children’s Services and commissioner of the Georgia Department of Labor.
Thurmond said he’s pleased to stay in DeKalb.
“I want to express my appreciation to the board for its trust in me and, more importantly, trust in the men and women I work with every day.” said Thurmond after the vote. “I have been thrilled and delighted to be surrounded by some of the hardest working educators anywhere in the state or the nation.”
Board chairman Dr. Melvin Johnson said before the meeting that Thurmond has brought badly needed stability to the school system over the past eight months and strengthened its efforts to regain full accreditation.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the district on “accreditation probation” on Dec. 17, 2012 citing inadequate governance.
On April 3, Dr. Mark Elgart, CEO of SACS parent company AdvancED told the board that keeping steady leadership is key to making progress.
“You cannot have the superintendent position be a rotating position,” Elgart said. “You cannot have it constantly going in and out based on political differences. If you have the right person, you need that person in place for a longer time to make a difference in a system of this magnitude and complexity.
Elgart on Tuesday reacted to Thurmond’s contract extension with a brief statement.
“DeKalb County Schools need to continue their focus on improvement with sustained effort and stable leadership.”
SACS will return in December to review the district’s status and determine whether to upgrade its accreditation.
Thurmond believes the district continues to make strong progress toward regaining full accreditation but he does not envision staying beyond 2015. “This is my last extension,” he said Monday.