Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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After 4¼ hour closed-door session, ABSS board ratifies promotion of internal candidate as new CFO; no public announcement of any other personnel discussion

After spending four hours and 15 minutes behind closed doors to discuss confidential personnel matters and confer with their attorney, Alamance-Burlington school board members voted 6-0 late Friday afternoon to appoint Melinda Anderson, an accounts manager within the school system’s finance department, to be the interim chief finance officer.

School board chairman Sandy Ellington-Graves announced upon reconvening in open session around 5:15 p.m. that board member Dan Ingle had left the closed meeting earlier because he wasn’t feeling well. School board member Donna Westbrooks had participated in the meeting and voted remotely.

School board members took no other action in public session after approving Anderson’s appointment, as presented by the ABSS human resources director Yolanda Anderson, who school officials have previously said is not related to the interim CFO.

Friday’s special-called meeting followed weeks of turmoil among the school system’s staff, after ABSS superintendent Dr. Dain Butler sent out a press release shortly after 6:00 p.m. Friday, February 2, announcing that 30 positions could be eliminated and 24 current employees could have their pay reduced during the current school year due to a budget deficit that he’d projected at the time could top $3.2 million.

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The following Monday, at their February 5 meeting, Alamance County’s commissioners amended their agenda and subsequently voted 5-0 to give ABSS a $250,000 lifeline that commissioner Craig Turner asked to be used to forestall the Reduction in Force (RIF) that Butler had announced the preceding Friday night.




Chief finance officer Kim McVey leaves abruptly

Meanwhile, ABSS announced Monday that chief finance officer Kim McVey had abruptly ended her tenure with the school system, after serving as CFO since July 2022 and more than three decades in public school finance. Her departure followed an interview with representatives of the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations (“Gov Ops”) that senator Amy Galey had asked to investigate the school system’s policies and financial decisions.

Earlier this week, ABSS public information officer Les Atkins told the newspaper that Butler was planning to ask the board to bring in a retired CFO from Wake County public schools, Mark Winters, to assist Anderson with her duties until a permanent CFO can be hired. But there was no mention of that staffing issue after Friday’s closed meeting.

Multiple sources familiar with the discussions have told the newspaper that, immediately following her interview with the GovOps committee last Friday (February 16), McVey met with Butler and deputy school superintendent Lowell Rogers,  and submitted a letter of resignation (variously termed a “retirement”), which Butler is said to have rejected.

School system sources have implied that Butler subsequently “fired” McVey, but will only describe the situation as “Dr. Butler decided to part ways with Ms. McVey as of [Sunday, February 18]  at 5 p.m. and move in a different direction.”

McVey had worked for ABSS 14 years and previously served as the assistant finance officer for ABSS until her appointment as CFO in 2022, after Butler took over as superintendent.  She had a total of about 34 years’ experience in public school finance and has previously served as an assistant finance director for Chapel Hill-Carrboro city schools and as the finance director for the Caswell County and Person County school systems.

Butler had initially designated Rogers as the interim CFO after McVey’s departure.

But on Tuesday, ABSS announced that Rogers had been suspended after being charged with failing to report a crime against a juvenile.

A criminal summons that the State Bureau of Investigation filed Monday in Alamance County district court alleges that Rogers had failed to report a sex-offense against a seven-year-old male.  The court file gives no indication whether that alleged sex offense involved a student.

Rogers was suspended from his position with ABSS, just after Butler had announced Monday morning that the deputy superintendent would temporarily take over the CFO’s duties while a search for a permanent successor to McVey is conducted.

However, the charge involving Rogers is separate from the one in which the then-principal of Eastlawn Elementary School, Daniel McInnis, was charged with a felony sex offense against a student, based on their Alamance County court files.

McGinnis’ charge involves a 9-year-old female student, while Rogers’ charge involves a 7-year-old boy.



Superintendent’s future?

Much community speculation had focused on whether the school board would address concerns about the performance of superintendent Dr. Dain Butler during their closed meeting on Friday.  No action was publicly announced about him when the board returned from closed session after 4¼ hours.

But there are interim steps the board could take in closed session without announcing such actions in open session.

The most common is to place an employee on a “performance improvement plan,” establishing certain goals and benchmarks for desired improvement. The Alamance News was unable to ascertain whether such an option was discussed during the more than four hours the board spent behind closed doors.

Another is to begin a negotiated resignation.  In 2021, when he was employed as superintendent of the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District in Halifax County, Butler resigned from that post on September 1, 2021, when that board agreed to pay Butler a severance of $150,680.77, plus reimbursement of his health coverage for 18 months; he remained on paid leave from September 1 through September 30, 2021, The Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald reported at the time.

Butler was hired as the ABSS superintendent on May 2, 2022 on a 5-2 vote by the school board and officially took over on July 1 of that year. Then board members Allison Gant and Tony Rose voted against the motion to hire Butler; voting in favor were Sandy Ellington-Graves, Patsy Simpson, Wayne Beam, Ryan Bowden, and Donna Westbrooks.

Ellington-Graves, Bowden, and Westbrooks are still members of the board; they have been joined by Dr. Charles Parker, Dan Ingle, and Chuck Marsh, all of whom were elected in 2022; and Seneca Rogers who was appointed last year to replace Patsy Simpson who had moved to Virginia.

Butler had previously served as the director of school administration for ABSS until 2016, when he was hired as the superintendent of the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District.  Between leaving that job in 2021 and coming to ABSS in 2022, Butler worked in the Guilford County Schools as a sernior director for principal pipeline.

1994 Southern High School graduate, Butler began his career in education with ABSS in 1999 as a teacher at Broadview Middle School, later becoming an assistant principal, principal, and central office administrator.

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