Brookville— The Franklin County Community School Board of Trustees met on Thursday, May 28 in a special meeting to certify FCCSC superintendent Dr. Debbie Howell’s retirement as well as hear a recommendation for her replacement.

However, there was some discussion from board trustees about the process the corporation approached the retirement and finding a replacement for Howell.

Howell’s certified letter of retirement states it is effective on January 8, 2021. Board trustee Terry Bryant stated Howell’s letter, which was presented at a school board meeting in March, was dated January 6. Bryant wanted to know why it took two months to tell the board about her retirement.

Howell said administrative guidelines state that she was to notify the board president (Matt Siedling) a year before her intent to retire, which Howell said she did in January. Howell also said the school board’s attorney as well as the treasurer have a copy her intent to retire.

“In your letter you indicated that you were trying to give us 12 months to find your replacement but then it didn’t turn out that way,” said Bryant.
The vote for Howell to retire was 5-0.

The second item of business was a recommendation from the FCCSC Board of Trustees to select Tammy Chavis as superintendent beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

Board trustee Sharon Wesolowski prefaced her discussion with this was something she struggled with.

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Ms. Chavis a couple of times and I think that she is really aware of the issues and the concerns that are going to be facing her as a superintendent,” said Wesolowski.

Wesolowski added she thinks that if Chavis can accomplish what she says, there’s no reason she won’t be a great superintendent.

“My struggle was with the process on how we did this, and I really feel we should have opened it up to the public and accepted resumes,” said Wesolowski.

Hearing the testimonies at the previous hearing, Wesolowski said she could still envision a scenario where Chavis was still their top candidate. Board trustee Francis Brumback said Chavis was highly recommended and very aware of the issues the corporation faces. He also added during the time he served as board president, there were times when Chavis was better suited for the role of superintendent than Howell.

Board trustee Rick Gill said he would hate to miss out on a chance for Chavis to serve as superintendent.

“I would like to add that Ms. Chavis knows our system, she knows the teachers, she’s been involved in several aspects of the raises and knows a lot of the students” said Gill.

Ultimately the vote to recommend Chavis as the next FCCSC superintendent passed 5-2 with Bryant and Wesolowski opposing. Bryant clarified his vote had nothing to do with the opinion of Chavis or her qualifications as the next superintendent and is hopeful she will be successful. Bryant went on to explain the job was not posted, there was only one interview and he was faced with lack of due diligence and on behalf of the community he decided to vote no. 

The special school board meeting concluded with Gill thanking Howell for all her hard work as superintendent.

The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 8 at 7 p.m.