The Monroe City School Board voted last week to renew Brent Vidrine's contract as the city school system's superintendent for another 18 months.
The School Board took up the matter during its regular meeting July 13, in compliance with state law requiring a vote on whether to renew the superintendent's contract. Vidrine's contract was set to expire on Dec. 31.
The first person to voice support for Vidrine's ongoing role as superintendent was Sandy Lollie, president of the Monroe Federation of Teachers.
“I want to say to Dr. Vidrine, 'I think you've done a hell of a job,'” Lollie said. “I support him.”
School Board members Bill Willson and Jennifer Haneline offered the motion and second, respectively, to extend Vidrine's contract. Before any discussion, Willson asked Vidrine whether he was “good” with the contract.
The move to extend Vidrine's contract drew some opposition.
School Board member Betty Ward Cooper said she could not vote on Vidrine's contract because she did not have a “final copy” of the document.
School Board President Daryll Berry noted the board's members already reviewed a draft of the contract and knew what changes would be incorporated into the new contract.
“All the changes,” Berry said.
Haneline used strong language to challenge anyone who did not want to approve Vidrine's contract.
“I think we would be fools, absolute incompetent fools if we did not approve the contract of the superintendent that has not only brought this district up every single year he has been in a place but has also brought us through a time when we have seen so many other schools fall,” Haneline said. “We have seen so many resources thrown at our students and parents to help get them through.”
“Dr. Vidrine, I thank you for your hard work,” Haneline added.
Willson noted the city school system obtained a unitary status declaration from the federal government, signifying the school system's complete desegregation.
“That was huge,” Willson said. “He brought us through with a steady hand.”
Willson pointed out that Cooper previously presided over the renewal of Vidrine's contract when she served as board president, meaning the process was not unfamiliar to her. Cooper acknowledged Willson's point.
“To say you're voting 'no' because you didn't have time, strikes me, and I may be wrong, as somewhat disingenuous,” Willson said.
Berry stopped Cooper and Willson from continuing their argument by calling for a vote.
School Board members Berry, Haneline, Willson, Rick Saulsberry and Sharon Greer voted in favor of extending Vidrine's contract.
School Board members Cooper and Brandon “B.J.” Johnson voted against extending the contract.
Vidrine has served as superintendent since the summer of 2013.