published Tuesday, May 10th, 2011, updated May 10th, 2011 at 3:53 p.m.

Jim Scales, school board reach agreement on buyout

by Dan Whisenhunt

Hamilton County Board of Education members and Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Jim Scales have reached a tentative buyout agreement to end Scales' five-year tenure at the helm of the local school system, officials announced this afternoon.

However, Scales and school board members said the deal won't be official until a vote is taken later this month.

The specific terms of the buyout will not be released until the deal is accepted by the board.

School board members Jeffrey Wilson and George Ricks and Hamilton County Commissioner are among those at a news conference at the school system's main office on Bonny Oaks Drive.

At the news conference, Scales said school board members initiated talks of a buyout in February

School board member Rhonda Thurman said she received a call earlier today asking if she could attend a board meeting on May 26. She said 15 days notice is required.

School board member Chip Baker said he also got the call about the May 26 meeting and said he is also familiar with discussions about Scales' contract. Baker said he would not attend, saying the school board needs to focus on passing his budget.

Jim Scales accepts contract buyout
Dr. Jim Scales, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, announced during a news conference Tuesday that he accepted the terms of a contract buyout presented by the school board. The school board will vote to approve the buyout at a meeting on May 26.
about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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user_name said...

Wow. Simply, wow! Isn't this school board composed of many of the same people who rushed a contract extension through for this guy? I'll be the first to admit, I don't think Scales has done much of anything since he's been here. And he certainly did not deserve $50k/year more than an already worthless superintendent who was on his way out. However, once this guy steps up and finally makes the hard, gutsy decisions that need to be made in order to balance the budget, he puts his own job in jeopardy?! The school board needs to follow suit, making the difficult decisions necessary while keeping priority in the classroom, NOT the central office. Just imagine how the voters will react during the next election when they decide whether or not to re-elect a board member who stood in the way of common sense and fiscal responsibility!

May 10, 2011 at 3:18 p.m.
patriot1 said...

It's all 'bout da chill-dren isn't it Docta Scales.....oh wait!!!

May 10, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.
crow1033 said...

This is just a ploy by Rhonda Thurman and Fred Skillern to save their buddy, Rick Smith, from the firing line. Do you think that we should be buying out contracts when the budget is $14 million in the hole? Everyone should contact their school board representative and tell them that it is unacceptable for Rick Smith to remain at Central Office and we will not tolerate this nonsense when HCDE doesn't have the money to do so!

May 10, 2011 at 4 p.m.

Next up... electing an all new school board or at least replacing those who are responsible for hiring and extending the contract of Mr. Scales.

May 10, 2011 at 4:38 p.m.
Salsa said...

School board members should pay for this buyout with their own salaries.

May 10, 2011 at 5:06 p.m.
Beamis said...

Good-bye to a BMW driving, gold-plated, government educrat. We will not be missing you and the next guy, or gal, will be just as bad.

May 10, 2011 at 6:05 p.m.
bret said...

Great idea, Rhonda. Let's pay a guy $200K + benefits for doing nothing and then hire another guy for another $200K for doing next to nothing. What if we all walked into our bosses office in the morning and informed the boss that we're quitting and would like a year's salary in advance. How would that work out?

May 10, 2011 at 6:11 p.m.
Stewwie said...

The people on the board who voted to extend Dr. Scales' contract last time are the same folks who are now against cutting him loose early. There are some new faces on the board now and that's why there is now a majority who wants him out now.

I think sending Dr. Scales off now is a win-win. Scales gets about $260,000 to do nothing but sit on his rump for at least a year...some may argue that's what he's been doing anyway, but that's another debate. Hamilton County wins by not having to deal with Scales anymore. Wahoo!! Now the main issue will be trying to plug the $14 million hole in the budget for next year.

By the way, if Scales is getting $57,000+ as part of his buyout due to built-up vacation days, doesn't that amount to over 1/4 of the year's worth? 12 or 13 weeks? How many weeks did he get per year if he had that much saved up? Wow.

We need to hire a superintendent who is from Hamilton County (or close by). No need to make an expensive national search again.

May 10, 2011 at 7:48 p.m.
nowfedup said...

Well ole blondie getting a bit more media time, wonder what her plan is for her new run at what office, State or Fed as she sure makes certain she is out in front of press every time she can. Nice to know why the fired the guy they extended, but since they took no pay hits, or budget cuts, guess not a personal issue for board, just a stepping stone for few for a new R party job for some one whom so loves the media?

May 10, 2011 at 7:56 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

I never thought an African-American professional could survive the whiteness of Thurmon and the implicit racism of many of the comments to this article, including Skillern. It is really a shame bu it costs money to have a good a school system, and an educated school board willing fight for it... Oh, and by the way I am a southern-bred caucasian).

May 10, 2011 at 9:11 p.m.
yaffay said...

crow1033 is correct. This is part of the plan to place Rhonda & Skillern's golden boy, Rick Smith, as the next superintendent. Watch and see their dreams come true, despite the cost to taxpayers.

May 10, 2011 at 9:43 p.m.
MetroMax said...

Three good reason for electing a Superintendent. Harry Reynolds, Jesse Register, and Jim Scales.

Rhonda Thurman has one vote on the board and is credited with all of the blame. Go figure? We have to get Everyday Math out of the school system!

May 10, 2011 at 9:50 p.m.
chet123 said...

please dont hire a Superintendent from SODDY-DAISY...

May 10, 2011 at 10:34 p.m.
hambone said...


May 11, 2011 at 4:46 a.m.
ibshame said...

For years Rhonda Thurman has called on the former Supt. and now the current Supt. to cut the Central Office Staff. In fact, she had asked both men several times to make cuts at the Central Office rather than in the classroom. Nothing wrong with that if it is her TRUE agenda. So, Dr. Scales creates a budget calling for exactly what she has been screaming about for years - He makes cuts at the TOP of the Central Office along with other recommendations for cuts. But instead of getting praise for this move, they offer him a buy out. Because in her words the "new Superintendent" should be the one to make those cuts. The hypocrisy here is so blatant until it's almost funny. What is really being said here is NOT about making cuts but it's about POWER and who decides where the cuts will take place. Ms. Thurman wants to be THE "decider." In reality that's what it's been about all along. It's ok for her to suggest more than a quarter of a million dollars be spent to send Dr. Scales on his way but it's not ok for him to suggest cutting top positions at the Central Office to save that much. But one shouldn't give her too much credit alone. She has four more members on the board who are going along with this hairbrain scheme. You just have to wonder when those "fiscally conservative teabaggers"(the ones who chased Ron Littlefield around for his so-called tax and spend ideas) are going to rise up and get a petition going to oust these free-willing spenders? After all when Dr. Scales rides off into the sunset with his quarter of a million dollars and the next Supt comes in (whether it's someone local or not) they're going to have pay him with those "hard-earned" tax dollars Rhonda Thurman likes to say she's the "Steward" of and they will have to make cuts somewhere to pay for this power-grab. Where oh where are those teabaggers and their petitions when we need them??? Evidently,they don't really come after their own.

May 11, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
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