By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
Incoming Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Doreen Griffeth has agreed to a three-year contract that will pay her $145,000 per year to take the reins of the high-performing school system.
The board finalized and approved Griffeth’s contract at a Tuesday meeting, after spending the past week ironing out the details with outgoing superintendent Dr. Jan Harris’ successor. Griffeth will also receive “reasonable” moving expense assistance and a $500 monthly vehicle allotment.
The new deal is less than Harris’ latest contract, which paid her $161,420 per year, though she had been at the helm for almost nine years and has received incremental raises along the way.
Harris will officially step down on August 1, which is when Griffeth will take on the legal authority as superintendent of the system. Harris will remain on contract as an advisor until September 1 to help ease the transition.
Griffeth, who is in the process of closing out work at her old position and coordinating a move to Cullman, said she is relieved to have the negotiation process behind her.
“I’m very excited and glad that part is done, and now I’m ready to focus on the great things going on in Cullman City Schools,” she told The Times on Tuesday afternoon. “I appreciate the confidence the board has in me and I feel like we’ll be a great team of six. I’m ready to go.”
School board president Suzanne Harbin said Griffeth’s three-year contract is similar to the arrangement initially made with Harris when she was hired eight years ago.
“I think three years is a good opportunity to see if it’s a good fit, and we did the same thing with Dr. Harris — and in that case we extended her contract after just two years,” Harbin said. “That was the thought process behind it. I’m also glad we’ll have Dr. Harris around to work with Dr. Griffeth and show her around the community.”
Fighting back tears at what should be her final board meeting, Harris expressed appreciation to the board for allowing her to serve for so many years.
“It’s been a wonderful board to serve with, and we’ve almost become like a family,” she said. “We may not agree on everything, but we work through it and find a way.”
Griffeth will have quite a few projects to keep juggling once she arrives, most notably the approximately $22 million renovation of Cullman High School that began a few weeks ago, plus continued work at the football and baseball fields. The system also has several, smaller capital projects in various stages of completion across virtually every campus.
Griffeth comes from the much larger Cobb County school system in Georgia, where she has served as assistant superintendent. She also has a decade of experience as a principal at Shallowford Falls Elementary and Rocky Mount Elementary in Cobb County, and started her career in the classroom as a music and special education teacher.
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.