Huntsville City School Board delays incoming superintendent contract approval

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala - Matt Akin will need to wait longer for his contract with Huntsville City Schools to become official.

Thursday, some members of the school board believed they would approve a revised contract that attorneys say Akin has already signed.

But in a 3-2 vote, the board pushed the contract vote back to a special-called meeting scheduled for Monday at 5:30 PM after some members claimed they did not get the amended contract in a timely fashion.

"I am not asking anything unreasonable," said Michelle Watkins, who made the motion to table the contract vote. "I am just asking that I be able to review the contract, because I owe this to my constituents that I am checking the boxes. That I am looking over the contracts."

Watkins said she had not been emailed a copy of the revised contract. Board member Pam Hill stated she had not either. During a heated exchange, both accused board president Elisa Ferrell of withholding the information.

"We did not receive a copy from you," said Hill during the meeting, "before we got here. That is not acceptable, even for the next superintendent. It's not fair."

She later continued, "You had a responsibility as the president to send the information to your board members." She added, "We want to see what our superintendent will do [so] we are asking for us to look at it over the weekend and do it Monday. And Dr. Akin will be just fine with that."

In an interview with WHNT News 19, Ferrell commented, "I guess they wanted me to send it to them directly rather than go to the board website to find it."

She said she expected Watkins and Hill to disagree with her during the meeting. "We had heard earlier they were intent on being aggressive tonight, especially towards me, so I was expecting something. I'm just sorry Dr. Akin got caught in the middle of it," she explained.

Board attorney, J.R. Brooks, described the contract changes from what the board previously approved as "minor revisions." It included striking a clause about a superintendent physical, and updating certain language. He was clear the agreed-upon terms of the contract, including the $195,000 base salary and $900 a month car allowance, remained intact.

Watkins said it was confusing to receive more revisions.

"We came here two weeks ago, made an agreement, and just about gave him everything he wanted except a Rolls Royce," she commented. "And now you're still coming back with some more changes. I'm confused."

Brooks said Akin's attorney proposed the contract changes for legal reasons.

Brooks said Akin had already signed this version of the contract and once the board approves it, it will become official.

Monday the board can approve or change that contract. If the board makes any further revisions to the version Akin has already signed, it will need to bounce back to Akin for another signature and cause further delays.