Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

HBG school board to consider motion to rehire superintendent on Monday.

The Harrisburg School Board will meet next week to elect a superintendent for a minimum three-year term, a letter sent to board directors announced today.

Members of the school board received notice by email late this afternoon that the vote will take place at their monthly meeting, scheduled for Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the district offices at 1601 State St. State school code requires board directors to receive at least five-days notice for such a vote.

The notification letter signed by board secretary Carol Kaufman, as well as an accompanying memo from board President Judd Pittman, were shared with TheBurg this afternoon.

The vote offers the board a final opportunity to re-hire Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney for a period of three to five years.

Before the board votes to offer Knight-Burney a contract, though, it will consider a motion to appoint a search firm to find a new superintendent.

Knight-Burney’s contract with the district expires on June 30. The board voted in March to consider new candidates for her position, then tried to rescind that vote in April in an action that was found invalid under state law.

The debate over the district’s top administrator has fiercely divided the board and its leadership since December. Pittman has consistently voted to consider new applicants for the position, while Vice President Danielle Robinson has pushed for Knight-Burney to be rehired.

The issue has drawn dozens of district residents to board meetings, where they spoke out in near equal numbers to support and oppose Knight-Burney’s contract being renewed.

A memo Pittman sent to board directors today explained that placing the two divergent motions on Monday’s agenda would “honor the diversity of public comment over the last five months,” as well as “the actions and legal obligation of the board as a result of the March 19 meeting” and “Madam Vice President [Danielle Robinson’s] request to hire Dr. Knight-Burney for an additional 3-5 years.”

The resolution that the board passed in March allowed it to consider new superintendent candidates, but it did not preclude board directors from offering Knight-Burney a new contract before her current one expires.

Robinson told TheBurg this week that she hoped the board would offer Knight-Burney another term.

Knowing that Robinson wanted to consider a motion to re-hire Knight-Burney, Pittman decided to place it on Monday’s agenda rather than allow it to rise from the floor, he said.

The two motions the board will consider on Monday carry mutually exclusive outcomes. Since only one director, Tyrell Spradley, has voted inconsistently on the superintendent issue, his vote could decide which one comes to fruition.

Currently, the board is also contending with an $8 million budget deficit, which may require the district to cut more than 30 teachers, administrators and support staff for the 2018-19 school year.

Spradley declined to comment on the vote by phone on Wednesday evening. Robinson could not immediately be reached for comment.

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