To no one’s surprise, the Williamson County Board of Education on Monday voted unanimously to approve a four-year contract to keep Jason Golden as the district’s superintendent.
Golden, who for the past two months has filled in as interim superintendent, took a few moments to express his gratitude to the board for the work it put into making this decision.
“I want to thank you for your faith in me, and I want to thank you ... who have made some particular comments about the process that you went through as an elected official to come to that decision,” Golden said. “It was both humbling and encouraging to me … to hear all of that.”
The four-year contract will pay Golden a $270,504 annual salary, the same salary as former Superintendent Mike Looney, who has moved to Atlanta to become the superintendent of the Fulton County School District.
As the board gathered in the auditorium of the county’s administrative complex to discuss the contract, Gary Anderson, the board chairman, gave the members an opportunity to comment on the matter.
Eliot Mitchell, who represents District 3, did speak up. Mitchell expressed some concern about the four-year term, considering Golden is new to the position. He said, however, that those concerns were not enough to keep him from voting in favor on the contract.
“I’ve talked to my peers, and I’ve talked to some other significant parties who have given me council on why my concerns should not be sufficient to keep me from supporting it,” Mitchell said. “I am going to support this contract even though my preference would be not to have it as a four-year contract right out of the gate for a promotional type of situation.”
Board member KC Haugh expressed confidence that Golden is the best candidate for the job.
“I feel strongly that, based on our experience working with Jason and his experience in this district, that he is the best choice for this district,” said Haugh, who represents the 11th District. “This is a great opportunity for him, and we’re very excited. And I’m really enthused to see what is to come.”
Kerry Vaughn, outgoing president of the Williamson County Education Association, even made an appearance at Monday night’s meeting. In voicing his support of Golden, Vaughn said that the WCEA did not receive a single email expressing any concerns about Golden.
“Every teacher or staff member I had contact with had nothing but great things to say,” Vaughn said. “Mr. Golden has a proven record of collaborating with all stakeholders at our community. From the outside, this selection process may have seemed to move very quickly. However, to us that have worked with Mr. Golden, we have firsthand knowledge of his leadership and integrity.”
Golden, who has worked in the school district for more than 10 years and served in several key roles, stressed the importance of continuity within a team, citing collective growth as a means to success.
“If you’re going to maintain that push to get better all the time, having a good team that grows as a team is very important,” said Golden, who reaffirmed his mission to include parents’ interests in school board conversations, keeping with his “students first” motif.
He then jumped right into his role, speaking to future plans by expressing the importance of the July 8 Williamson County Commission meeting, when the commissioners will vote on the proposed school budget, which calls for a $3,000 bump in teachers’ starting wages.
“That’s a very important meeting for us, and I really believe, to some degree, it’s a paradigm shift meeting because … what we’re asking of the commission is to make a commitment to our teachers, especially the teachers at the first few years’ pay so that they can have a livable wage,” he said.
This increase in teachers’ pay is one topic Golden has touched on several times during his meet-and-greet sessions over the past couple months. The County Commission’s vote will determine whether WCS will be given the funding to carry out Golden’s plan.
In representing Williamson County teachers, Vaughn expressed his appreciation for Golden’s people-centered work, including his dedication to school staff.
“For a school board to have healthy, lengthy discussions on the selection process and then to vote all in favor of one person speaks volumes,” Vaughn said. “Mr. Golden will continue to lead our excellent school system forward.”
The school board will not meet again until August, but it will hold a celebration of its new superintendent 5-8 p.m. July 23 at The Factory at Franklin.