BOE Renews Superintendent's Contract
The motion to approve the renewal passed with one board member dissenting and one abstaining.
Frank Petruzielo will continue to lead the Cherokee County School System.
The Board of Education voted 5-1-1 Thursday night to extend Petruzielo’s contract after the board left the open meeting to go into executive session to discuss the item. Board member Michael Geist cast the dissenting vote, and Rob Usher abstained, citing the fact that he hadn’t seen the contract prior to the meeting.
Usher, who raised concerns about not seeing the contract during the meeting, said that the contract wasn’t available during executive session and that he couldn’t in good conscience vote for something he hadn’t read.
“They wanted to move forward with it, and that’s fine with me,” Usher said. “It’s nothing against the superintendent. I think he’s done a great job. I don’t want it to be construed that way.”
Prior to the board retiring to executive session, Usher asked that the vote be tabled until the board’s next meeting in two weeks, but Petruzielo said that he would prefer the board not postpone a vote on the issue.
“If (someone) hadn’t gotten it, certainly as of the publishing of the agenda, there were ample opportunities (to meet with the board attorney),” the superintendent said. “There are no changes to any conditions in the contract. This is the same contract, the same conditions, the same provisions that have been in place.”
Geist said he voted against the contract renewal because it didn’t occur in July as it had two years ago. That’s politicizing, he said.
“I didn’t know how I could in good conscience step aside from the timing,” Geist said. “I think the timing impacts the politics of this.”
One person had signed up to speak regarding Petruzielo’s contract, but board attorney Tom Roach said that board policy prohibits citizens speaking regarding personnel issues.
The board also voted to change Polaris Evening School from a school to a program, meaning its graduates will be included in the graduation rate of their home schools. Polaris has a graduation rate of 18 percent under a new formula implemented by the state, down from its previous 32 percent. Petruzielo said during a discussion on graduation rates that, while Cherokee County should be commended for having a non-traditional school where students who can’t attended school during the day can take classes and graduate, its graduation rate is actually hurting.
“It’s a good thing,” the superintendent said. “It gives kids a chance to graduate. But, these are not kids who grad in four years, so it hurts us. Whether you count them at Polaris or at their home school, they’re not traditional students.”
It’s not fair to be hurt by students who take longer than four years to complete high school, Petruzielo said.
“You’re punished for making it possible and you’re rewarded for having a system that doesn’t allow kids to get their high school diploma at night,” he said.
Petruzielo said that in the last two year, 266 students have graduated from Polaris.