Board focused on Shaver negotiations before implementing search

By Chris Kieffer

TUPELO – The Tupelo School Board will focus on negotiating Superintendent Randy Shaver’s early release from his contract before naming an interim leader or beginning a search for his replacement, Board President Amy Heyer said Wednesday morning.
“We will have to work on all of that,” Heyer said. “Our first step is to negotiate with Dr. Shaver on his departure. We will take it step by step.”
After meeting in executive session for nearly two hours on Tuesday, the Board announced that it would begin negotiations with Shaver.
Shaver requested those negotiations, he said, after the public outcry over his decision to replace high school principal Lee Stratton became contentious to the point where he felt his leadership “would distract the Board and the school system from its mission.”
Shaver’s $177,000-per-year contract was due to expire in June 2013. He began in the district in July 2009. The terms do not stipulate a specific buyout clause, attorney Otis Tims said.
Shaver remains superintendent as those negotiations continue. Heyer said on Wednesday that she does not know how long they will last.
Once that is complete, the board will name an interim and determine its search process for its new superintendent. The board has not yet decided what that process will be, Heyer said.
“One of my serious concerns is being able to attract the best and brightest into our community,” she said.
Chris Barnes, whom the board named on March 29 as Stratton’s replacement at THS, announced on Tuesday that he will instead remain in his current job in North Carolina.
Heyer said the board has not yet discussed what that will mean for Stratton or who will be THS’s principal next year. Shaver had previously said that Stratton would become a principal at another school within the district.
For more on this story as it develops, check back at NEMS360.com or see Thursday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.