Rejecting recommendations from the Liberty County School System superintendent, the board of education on Tuesday made two significant personnel changes. Contracts were not renewed for Bradwell Institute football coach Jim Walsh Jr. and transportation director Tony Norce, according to Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer.
The board voted, 5-1, with member Marcia Anderson abstaining, to replace Walsh as football coach; however, he can remain in his teaching position at Bradwell.
Walsh said he plans to stay until the end of the school year.
“In terms of my teaching slot, I still have that. It’s just the coaching that is the one that they didn’t vote (for me) on. In coaching, it’s political. Without a shadow of a doubt. What you hope is that they take in mind, before they make a decision, what have you done to help the program? And when you start sitting back and looking at that, it’ll be a different story. But they made a decision. I’ll live with the decision and move on. That’s just the nature of the business.”
Walsh’s coaching contract is good through the end of the academic year, and he will continue to be paid his supplement through June, but the school system now is searching for a replacement coach, who, if hired in time, will be allowed to run spring practice, Scherer said.
Walsh’s $17,050.45 supplement is made up of two components, according to Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Jason Rogers. For serving as head coach, he is paid $11,241.25, and he also has 20 additional days in his contract, which are worth $5,809.20.
Walsh produced a 113-89 record in 19 seasons as BI’s football coach.
“In this business, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’s a what-you-do-for-me-now kind of mentality. It’s like an old coach said, ‘There’s two types of coaches — those that have been fired and those that are going to be fired.’ I just appreciate the principal and the superintendent who supported me. Unfortunately, it just went to a vote, and it didn’t work. So the next thing on my end is you start looking for a job,” Walsh said. “I want to be in this business for at least another 15 years. It is what it is. You move forward. That’s all you can do. And that’s what I’m going to do.”
Bradwell Institute advanced to the Class AAAAA state playoffs in 2009. The Tigers finished 3-7 in 2010, the program’s first losing season since 1999. They went 1-9 in 2011 and 2-8 in 2012, according to Walsh.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to coach a lot of kids in this county, and that will always be special for me. That will never change. I had four losing seasons in the time that I was here. It’s just one of those things. It wasn’t anything I could control. But I’m the one who has to answer the fiddle. That’s just the way it goes. Like I said, it’s been a good run here. I’ve enjoyed the kids I’ve had the opportunity to work with. Really, the pleasure I’ve had working with these kids ... it’s just time to find another place to rest. And that’s what I’ll do,” he said.
Walsh had been the school system’s athletic director but was relieved of those duties in November after an administrative decision by Scherer and BI Principal Scott Carrier. His AD supplement was $4,255, according to Rogers.
BI Assistant Principal Roland Van Horn was recommended as the replacement AD, but the board rejected the recommendation after deciding an assistant principal shouldn’t receive the financial supplement that is tied to the AD position, Scherer said.
The superintendent and Carrier both recommended keeping Walsh as football coach.
Scherer also recommended keeping Norce, whose contract was not renewed by the BoE on a 4-3 vote. No official reason was given for his dismissal.
Norce’s contract also is good through the end of the school year.
Also Tuesday, the board authorized a Liberty County High School student to graduate in December.
Current policy prohibits students from graduating early, and board Chairwoman Lily Baker said after the vote that she would like the board to revisit the policy in the future.
The board previously had tabled the request, which LCHS Principal Paula Scott submitted without naming the student involved. She said the student was a football player being recruited by NCAA Division I schools. Junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan has been visited by several Division I coaches.
The board also approved a contract for superintendent search services with the Georgia School Boards Association. The initial cost of the agreement is $8,000, to be furnished over the course of the search.
Board member Carolyn Smith Carter asked about provisions that allow the GSBA to charge more in the event that more thorough background searches need to be conducted.
Jason Rogers, the assistant superintendent for administrative services, explained that the search consultant would not charge more without consulting the district.
Also authorized was the close-out of a paving maintenance project at Bradwell Institute and Waldo Pafford Elementary. The final payment is $22,209.25, bringing the project total to $136,599.25. Included in the invoice was $16,262.50 in change orders.
In other news Tuesday:
• Former LCSS Superintendent Ed Edwards voiced his disagreement with the six furlough days adopted for the 2013-14 calendar year.
• Deputy Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Conley briefed the board on the new performance measures under the College and Career Ready Performance Index.
• The board nominated Smith Carter to serve on the library board.
Courier freelancer Noell Barnidge contributed to this report.