Thursday, October 16, 2008

Very disappointing

This is pretty troubling.

And it's not troubling in the sense that I think there's some nefarious plot afoot at the Oconee County Board of Education, but it's troubling in that those involved exercised poor judgement in not only trying to hide this situation, but also that they got themselves in it to begin with.

It's not necessarily my place to say whether or not Tom Dohrmann was or was not the right man to implement the board's vision, but I do think the board erred in making the decision to force his retirement when they did.

For starters, the board should have recognized that Dohrmann would have been willing to retire one year later because it would have given him the required amount of time to be eligible for full benefits. The board also should have never agreed to renew his contract for an additional three years and then, just a few weeks later, inform Dohrmann they had 'philosophical differences' with him and force him out.

It just seems there was little leadership or common sense employed in this manner. As someone who serves on several advisory and managerial boards, as well as one who offers consultation to them, I know all too well that the vision of staff and the vision of a board can differ. And, in those cases, it is sometimes best to move on.

But you've also got to be pragmatic about things like this and forcing Dohrmann out a year before his retirement - thus putting you on the hook for close to $100,000 for an employee who literally doesn't do anything on top of an additional $150,000 or so for an interim superintendent - isn't pragmatic at all.

Further complicating this is that the board attempted to keep this expenditure quiet from the taxpayers of this county while, at the same time, coping with more than $350,000 in state-mandated cuts. When you consider that Oconee County, like most other counties during these tough economic times, has had to trim its expenses and that means instituting a hiring freeze and cutting back on maintenance and training, it's becomes somewhat appalling to process this.

To top it all off, this went on during a contested election cycle, meaning those who signed off on such a course of action weren't held accountable. That's rather insulting to the voters of this county, and I say that as someone who thinks very highly of the individuals serving on the board.

I'm very, very disappointed in the board's actions, particularly given the circumstances of this election and the challenges with regard to funding.


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