- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - A school board in northern Alabama has voted to offer a three-year contract for a new superintendent.

Matthew Akin was chosen as superintendent with an annual salary of $179,500 after the Huntsville school board voted on Thursday, Al.com (https://bit.ly/2kRtFLd) reported. The school board voted Akin for superintendent in a 3-2 decision earlier this month.

Akin has been the superintendent at Piedmont School District in Piedmont, Ala. for the past 14 years.

“Three of the board members wanted to do the negotiations ourselves and not have attorneys do it behind closed doors,” said Board President Elisa Ferrell. “We have involved the community in every process we have been doing all throughout the superintendent selection, so we felt it was important to do it publicly.”

Ferrell said the contract would go to the school board’s attorneys and then to Akin.

“We have to have someone in place by March 15, so we don’t have a lot of time left,” she said. She expects the board to receive Akin’s acceptance or counter offer by Monday.

If the board and Akin can’t agree on a contract, that would leave the board with a week or two to get another superintendent installed. If the board does not have a superintendent by March 15, the state will intervene.

The board voted on each element of Akin’s contract separately. There were some split decisions on contract items including car allowance, relocation expenses and contract renewals.

The board voted unanimously on health insurance benefits after a three-hour meeting, which prompted an impromptu applause. It was the first unanimous decision the board has made since new board members Michelle Watkins and Pam Hill took office in November.

“I think (the meeting included) one of the more friendly discussions we’ve had, and we achieved some of our first 5-0 votes. …,” said Ferrell. “We’ve always been told it’s possible, and now we found out it’s possible, so that’s a good thing.”

Akin asked for a base salary of $195,000. Watkins proposed $175,000, the salary of former superintendent Casey Wardynski. Ann Roy Moore made $195,685 after her 10-year tenure as Huntsville superintendent prior to Wardynski. Hill agreed to $175,000, but they were voted down 3-2.

Board member Walker McGinnis proposed giving Akins the salary he asked for, but received no second to bring his proposal to a vote.

The board voted to give Akins an $800 per month car allowance - the same as Wardynski and Moore received - and to pay his moving expenses.

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