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|City school board approves Dupree contract|
Superintendent James Dupree's new, three-year contract at Monroe City Schools includes a $5,000 raise and more than $8,000 per year for a car allowance.
Approved by the Monroe City School Board Tuesday night at its regular meeting, Dupree's new contract also includes payments by the city school system to Dupree's retirement plans and an annuity for Dupree valued at more than $15,000 annually.
All told, Dupree's compensation package will cost the city school system $173,000 per year.
The school board approved the new contract by a 6 to 1 vote. Board member Mickey Traweek questioned how members could approve a contract that, according to Traweek, most of them had not seen.
When the school board brought up Dupree's contract for consideration, board attorney Doug Lawrence informed the board copies of the contract were not available because negotiations on the new contract had recently concluded, in his words, "10 minutes before this meeting."
"I can't think of any contract that we can pass as a board that is this important without seeing it," Traweek said. "It's completely out of the ordinary for us to do this this way."
Following Traweek's objections, the board tabled consideration of Dupree's contract until the end of the meeting to give Lawrence time to distribute copies of it to board members.
Those copies were distributed later in the meeting. Following a recess, the board entertained the contract.
Board member Rodney McFarland made the motion to accept the contract after lengthy discussions about key details, including performance-based benchmarks.
"I'm in favor of us proceeding on now, moving forward with the approval of the superintendent's contract," McFarland said.
When Dupree's current contract, which expires Sept. 30, came up for renewal in April, McFarland voted against renewing it.
Weeks later, he told the school board he had a change of heart, and he changed his vote when the issue to offer Dupree a new contract, beginning Oct. 1, arose last month.
Brenda Shelling was another school board member who voted not to renew Dupree's contract when the board discussed the issue in April. Like McFarland, Shelling had a change of heart, too, and voted to extend a new contract to Dupree when the school board acted on the matter last month.
At Tuesday's meeting, Shelling said it was time to get beyond the past.
"My position is this is the beginning of the beginning and we all need to move forward again," Shelling said.
Before casting the board's lone dissenting vote, Traweek questioned how the board could approve a contract that, in his words, was incomplete.
Traweek noted the contract made frequent references to goals and benchmarks in an attachment to the contract, yet the attachment wasn't completed yet.
"We don't know what the goals are yet," Traweek said.
Once finalized, those benchmarks will include improvements in state testing scores, student graduation rates and ACT scores in the graduating classes of the three high schools in the city school system.
Those details have yet to be finalized, according to board president Vickie Dayton.