Bibb schools chief hired

The Bibb County school board voted 6-2 Friday to approve a contract for Romain Dallemand to become the system’s new superintendent.

Board members Susan Sipe and Lynn Farmer cast the two “no” votes.

Board members Gary Bechtel, Susan Middleton, Tommy Barnes, Albert Abrams, Tom Hudson and Ella Carter voted in favor of the contract, which calls for Dallemand to receive a base salary of $198,000 when he assumes the superintendent’s position Feb. 1. He also will be eligible to earn incentive pay, officials said.

He currently makes $171,600 as superintendent of Rochester Public Schools in Minnesota.

Reached by phone Friday night, Dallemand said he’s “very pleased” with the contract.

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work with the staff, the students and the community,” he said. “I think the board took the necessary time to make the right decision.”

The school board and Dallemand have been negotiating a deal ever since Nov. 9 when the board selected Dallemand as the top pick for superintendent.

Former Superintendent Sharon Patterson earned $195,000 as a base salary, plus incentive pay.

“I’m very glad, very satisfied,” Bechtel, the board president, said of Friday’s vote. “We’ve spent a lot of time going back and forth, but this is a fair contract for the district and for (Dallemand).”

Bechtel said interim Superintendent Sylvia McGee would continue in that role until Dallemand starts, then stay on for a while to help Dallemand through the transition. McGee, who took over for Patterson last February, has indicated she would retire once a new superintendent was hired.

“It’s exciting to get permanent leadership,” Bechtel said. “Ms. McGee has done an outstanding job for us.”

Dallemand will receive the contract and sign it within a few days, Bechtel said. Dallemand said he will ask the Rochester school board to release him from his current contract. Once he arrives in Macon, he said he “expects to hit the ground running.”

Sipe said her vote Friday wasn’t against the 42-year-old Dallemand but rather was against certain parts of the contract.

“I have two major concerns -- the base salary is too high and that there is not strong enough accountability,” Sipe said. “There are no stated benchmarks.”

Sipe said the board could have started at a lower base salary and included more bonus money for results.

Bechtel said he’s disappointed that the vote wasn’t unanimous, but he said he’s aware why Sipe and Farmer voted against the contract.

“I understand what their argument was,” he said. “But we want him to put a strategic plan in place, and I think that’s easier if the contract has been signed. There’s no doubt that all of the board will work closely with (Dallemand). Their issue was just with some of the numbers.”

Bechtel said that once Dallemand arrives, he will create his own strategic plan for the district, which will provide benchmarks upon which the board can evaluate him.

Hudson said he would have liked the unanimous vote to help the community rally around Dallemand.

“I was hoping it would be unanimous,” he said. “It’s time we unite behind a common cause. The community has been divided. I feel the contract is a good contract. It’s very difficult to find an urban superintendent. (Dallemand) has a very good track record.”

Dallemand is married with a 14-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter. He said he will discuss with his family whether they will finish the academic year in Rochester or move to Macon with him in early 2011.

“I don’t make those decisions by myself,” he said. “As a family, we need to decide what’s best.”

One issue that Dallemand is currently dealing with is an issue that doesn’t pop up very often in Bibb County. He’s canceling school-related activities Saturday because a major snowstorm is expected to hit the Rochester area. He said he’s happy the weather in Macon is generally much milder.

“That’s good to know,” he said with a laugh.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.