By Denise Dick
Superintendent Connie Hathorn still doesn’t have a new contract, but as of Wednesday afternoon, he had the backing of the school board’s majority.
Hathorn, whose contract expires in July 2014, said Wednesday that he’s asked the board to allow him to retire — and then rehire him. The board hasn’t taken action on it.
Adrienne O’Neill, chairwoman of the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission, asked Hathorn at a commission meeting Wednesday for assurance that he would see through a revitalization plan to improve the district.
“When you have one year left on your contract, you want some kind of indication from the board,” Hathorn said.
O’Neill asked if he is committed to the district through his current contract, and he said he is. Hathorn had been a finalist for the Little Rock, Ark., schools superintendent. That district chose another candidate Tuesday.
In a Feb. 26 email to fellow commission members and city schools administrators, O’Neill wrote: “... if the board does not act to keep Connie in place, I will ask you [commission members] to act to appoint an academic monitor. Then the board of education will lose all control — not only will the finances be in our hands, but the academics will also. I have seen gains, so I have been reluctant to appoint such a person because in my view that would undermine Connie.”
Richard Atkinson, board president, said a meeting is set for today when board members will work on an evaluation of Hathorn.
Another meeting to review the evaluation with Hathorn is expected next week.
After that, the seven-member board is expected to consider Hathorn’s contract.
“We’re going to do what’s best for the district,” Atkinson said.
He did say, though, that he wants Hathorn to stay.
“I think the district is moving forward with him,” the board president said.
Both members Michael Murphy and Rachel Hanni previously said they wanted Hathorn to stay, and Lock P. Beachum Sr. has said it wouldn’t be good for the district if Hathorn left.
At the commission meeting Wednesday, Beachum and Murphy said they support Hathorn and his plan to revitalize the schools.
“I am 125 percent behind Dr. Hathorn and this plan and I think it can work,” Beachum said.
“I am 100 percent behind Dr. Hathorn and this plan,” he said.
The other three board members, Marcia Haire- Ellis, Brenda Kimble and Andrea Mahone, haven’t commented.
“Nobody has said they want him to go,” Atkinson said. “But I haven’t asked them.”