Phipps pledges team effort

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Staff Writer

Donald “Don” Phipps took office as the superintendent of Beaufort County Schools at the school system’s headquarters in Washington on Monday morning.
He was chosen to lead the county schools because he advocates “traditional values but is an innovative thinker,” said Beaufort County Board of Education Chairman Robert Belcher in introducing Phipps to the public.
A crowd of more than 50 school officials and staff members, county and city leaders and members of Phipps’ family watched Phipps take the oath of office, which was administered by Beaufort County Clerk of Court Marty Paramore.
“I look forward to the task at hand,” Phipps said in an interview after the ceremony. “I intend to work really hard to make this a school system we can be proud of.”
He also pledged to “work together as a team” with county leaders and members of the pubic.
County leaders who attended the ceremony appeared ready to work with the new superintendent.
They said they hope for a new era of cooperation with school leaders and signaled a readiness to end the recent discord between the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners and the school board.
“I hope we can get off on a good footing and relations between the school board and county commissioners will be better than it has been,” said Commissioner Hood Richardson. “If he does absolutely nothing, he will be better than the last one.”
Commissioners Stan Deatherage and Al Klemm issued challenges for the new superintendent.
“I pray that the superintendent and his school board will understand that a better education is not solely dependent on funding,” Deatherage said. “I hope he will deal with us honestly, never, never not tell us the truth and never create subterfuge in the community against us.”
Klemm said he wants the schools to improve high-school graduation rates.
“What I want to see now is our graduation rate improve,” he said. “In this world, it’s hard to become anything without a high school diploma.”
Prior to his hiring on Dec. 9, Phipps served as executive director of student services for Cumberland County Schools, which includes the Fayetteville metropolitan area. Phipps also has worked as a school principal, assistant principal, school psychologist and university professor.
Phipps’ contract expires June 30, 2013, shortly after the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
Under the terms of Phipps’ contract, he is to be paid “the maximum yearly amount on the State Salary Schedule for Superintendent III,” which the N. C. Department of Public Instruction lists as $9,948 per month for the 2009-2010 fiscal year; plus “the yearly State-approved doctorial supplement for Superintendents,” listed by DPI as $253 per month; yearly longevity pay, and a local supplement in the amount of $12,000 per year. Not including longevity pay and any state-adopted bonuses for central office staff, Phipps’ compensation package totals $134,412 a year using the DPI salary and supplement schedule.
The contract includes a deferred compensation clause that lets Phipps withhold a portion of his salary and invest it in an annuity or retirement program of his choice.
Phipps’ contract also calls for him to be reimbursed up to $2,000 annually for membership in professional or civic organizations. It also calls for the school system to provide him with a cellular or digital telephone, laptop computer and “other electronic devises for effective modern communication” and the use of a vehicle for “job-related and incidental travel within Beaufort County” and for job-related travel outside of Beaufort County.
Phipps’ contract requires him to live in Beaufort County and calls for him to be reimbursed for “reasonable relocating expenses” from Fayetteville to Beaufort County. It also requires Phipps to have an annual medical examination paid for by the schools and to undergo an annual job-performance evaluation by the board.
Under the terms of Phipps’ contract, if the local school board terminates his contract, the board will pay his annual salary for 18 months or the remaining time of his contract, whichever is less. If his contract is terminated within the first year of employment, he will receive his salary for the first two years of the contract.