Murfree contract negotiations continuing

ALBANY, Ga. -- In today's 5 p.m. called Dougherty County Board of Education personnel meeting at the Administration Building, school board members will get an update on contract negotiations with named Superintendent Joshua Murfree.

"Myself, Vice Chair (James) Bush and (DCSS Attorney) Tommy Coleman, per the board's instructions, met with Dr. Murfree last Thursday evening, and so today's executive session we'll bring the board up-to-date as far as the contract negotiations," School Board Chairman David Maschke said. "We're not done. The contract's not ready for approval tonight (at the 7 p.m. board meeting)."

Murfree, 54, sent his proposed contract to the school board March 30. Maschke made copies of the contract and mailed them out to board members April 1. The school board then met April 16 to make suggestions to Murfree's proposed contract, which Coleman updated to include all the stipulations and revisions directed by the board.

Murfree started reviewing the revised proposed contract with the board's revisions on April 26.

Maschke said tonight's special called personnel meeting is expected to take about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, officials with the state Attorney General's Office say that the school system has yet to respond to a letter from their office requesting mediation following a complaint lodged by The Albany Herald that they had violated the Georgia Open Records' Act by failing to turn over Murfree's proposed contract.

The Attorney General's Office gave the school system 10 days to respond to the allegations set forth in the complaint, but nearly three weeks after receipt of the letter has failed to do so. Sheila Guider, a special assistant to Senior Assistant Attorney General Stefan Ritter, said that the office will take the unusual step of calling school board Attorney Coleman Tuesday to follow-up on the letter.

Herald officials, working on behalf of the public to obtain the proposed contract before the board votes on it, believe the document is a public record and the school system has been able to cite no specific statute under the records law to support their contention that it should be withheld from the public.