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By DAMON LAWRENCE
The Roane County School Board voted to extend the contract of Director of Schools Toni McGriff for two years at Thursday night’s board meeting.
The action came in spite of strong opposition from board member Frank Mee.
“I get numerous complaints from her attitude; she’s rude when we call and talk to her to she’s sort of forcing the issues down your throat,” Mee said. “It’s her way or no way. Those are the type of comments I get, and I feel that justifies continuing to evaluate her under her present contract rather than throw two years on top of it.”
McGriff still had over a year remaining on her original four-year contract.
The vote to extend the contract carried 7-3.
Mee, Mike “Brillo” Miller and Michael Taylor all voted against the extension.
While Miller and Taylor voiced their opposition with simple “no” votes, Mee didn’t hold back when explaining his reasons for opposing the exten-sion.
“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I do get a lot of comments that her contact with the public is not very positive,” Mee said.
Some board members didn’t appreciate the fact that Mee chose to voice his concerns about McGriff in an open meeting — one that had principals from throughout the system in attendance.
“I don’t think he should have drilled her like that in an open meeting,” school board Vice Chairman Everett Massengill said. “If he has something he ought to go to her and tell her in person. Bringing that out like he did in this board meeting, that was sorry.”
McGriff took over as head of the school system in July of 2005 with a starting salary of $99,900.
The contract has built in raises, and it calls for her to make $105,420 this year.
In the interest of fairness, McGriff was offered a chance to respond to Mee’s comments following the meeting and declined. During closing remarks before the board, she said when she moved her family to Roane County two and a half years ago, she moved her heart with her. She also thanked the board members who supported her and pledged to continue to work as hard as she can for the school system.
“I truly do my best not to aggravate people, but sometimes I can’t help it because I do have to say no,” McGriff said.
Massengill and school board chairman Earl Nall both praised McGriff during the discussion about the extension. Nall said McGriff is well known around the state, and even though they don’t always agree, he’s happy with the job she’s doing.
“Everything she does is for the good of this county and for the good of our kids,” Nall said.
“Her compassion for children and her knowledge of the daily operations of our school system is proven day in and day out,” Massengill said.
Board member Sam Cox echoed Massengill’s comments, and said a change at this point would be a step in the wrong direction. Mee said that he wasn’t proposing getting rid of McGriff. He said he was just against the extension.
“She’s got a year and a half to go on a contract that’s a pretty nice contract with a guaranteed built in raise,” Mee said. “I just can’t see why we’re wanting to add two years on to it right now.”