September 14, 2006
Thursday night's Richmond County BOE meeting saw a cordial end to an often contentious relationship. The board finally has an end date for superintendent Dr. Charles Larke's contract.
In the meeting, Dr. Larke signed a new version of his old contract--and this means by the end of next month, he'll no longer be running the schools.
For Dr. Charles Larke and the Richmond County School Board, it's been a rough few months. Now both sides are relieved to have this over with.
"I am really excited, I am happy, I'm relieved," Dr. Larke said. "I think I'll sleep real good tonight and I'm just excited to have this behind me."
Behind him are ten years as superintendent and nearly 40 years with Richmond County's school system.
"Getting a 7-2 vote for the nine month contract that allows me to complete my forty years, it meant a lot to me."
Under the amended terms of his fresh new contract, Larke will continue his current role through October. He'll then work as a consultant for the interim superintendent until March--not from his downtown office, but from his home.
"So it allows him to work in a private environment while at the same time not allow him to have undue influence on others," said board member A.K. Hasan.
Hasan is just one school board member who in the past has publicly questioned some of Dr. Larke's policies. In fact, last spring, he pointed out loopholes in Larke's old contract.
Ken Echols is another. He recently criticized Larke's practice of advance paychecks.
"He's still a friend, he'll always be a friend," Echols said. "It's just that we didn't agree on several issues about how the school system's run but I think the healing has begun and we'll move forward now."
"The bottom line is you put children first, and I think that all the debate about my tenure I think could have hurt the SPLOST in November," Dr. Larke said.
It appears to be an agreeable end to a rocky relationship...and even to what some would call a controversial career.
Deputy superintendent James Thompson will serve in Dr. Larke's place. That was a unanimous decision by the board.
They've also announced that on Tuesday they'll re-group to discuss the nationwide search for a new superintendent.
Dr. Larke has told us that this has been a long eight months. It's been that for the board as well. Their attorney has been investigating Dr. Larke for a month now.
Luckily, they've settled this issue at the school board instead of inside a courtroom...and Dr. Larke is very happy he got his 40 years.