POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Board of Education has expressed its confidence in Superintendent Jack Cullen by extending his current contract by two years.
Board members voted unanimously to keep Cullen at the helm of Mason County Schools this week during a special meeting. Cullen was appointed interim superintendent from Jan. 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015. He was then given a three-year contract starting July 1, 2015 and ending June 30, 2018. The new extension means his contract will expire June 30, 2020. His annual salary, even with the contract extension, will stay the same as it has been since getting the job at $120,000. By comparison, more recent annual salaries in surrounding counties for superintendents have been reported as: Cabell, $135,000; Jackson, $142,770; Putnam $155,000.
Board Member Jared Billings and Cullen both stepped into their respective roles around the same time, with Billings saying it was a learning experience. Billings added, though he and Cullen hadn’t always seen eye-to-eye on everything, they had grown together in their respective roles. One of the reasons Billings said he voted for the extension was that he felt Mason County Schools was making “progression” and he was satisfied Cullen could continue to lead them into the future.
Board President Dale Shobe said in Cullen’s time as superintendent, he felt he had “put kids first.”
“And, the SBA (School Building Authority) money he’s brought into this county has been phenomenal,” Shobe added. “We’re hoping he can do that for two more years.”
Board Member Meagan Bonecutter said she felt with Cullen having been a teacher in the classroom for so many years, he had a unique perspective on how to solve problems which other superintendents may lack.
“I think we’ve got an asset with you (Cullen),” she said.
“We’ve been through some difficult times,” Board Member Rhonda Tennant said, adding they may get even more difficult with a changing financial climate. “I trust that you’re (Cullen) a good one to take us forward.”
Board Member Greg Fowler echoed that sentiment and said he felt Cullen could continue to lead Mason County Schools in a forward direction.
Cullen said, “I appreciate the support and enjoy working with them (school board members). I work with them and they work with me. Our main focus is on our students and it always will be, it can’t be anything other than that.”
The contract also has a clause that if the school board is not happy with the superintendent’s performance or the superintendent is not happy, they may part ways after 60 days at no cost to the board.
Board members said in addition to being happy with Cullen’s job performance, they extended the contract early due to needing to focus on other important issues, such as the status of the excess levy set to expire. This levy has been on the tax ticket since 1950 and if the board moves forward to place it on the ballot as a renewal levy, they indicated they will not be asking for more money or a higher tax rate. No official motion was voted upon concerning further action on the levy this week.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.