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Decatur School Board approves superintendent contract

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Decatur School Board approves superintendent contract

Superintendent finalist Dr. Gyimah Whitaker speaks during a meet-and-greet hosted by City Schools of Decatur in the cafeteria at Decatur High School on Thursday, March 30, 2023. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur School Board hired Dr. Gyimah Whitaker as City Schools of Decatur’s next superintendent during a special called meeting on April 11.

The board also approved her contract. 

Her contract will be effective July 1 and expires June 30, 2026. Her base salary will be $235,000. At the end of each year, the school board could review the superintendent’s pay and increase her annual base salary, according to the contract

Whitaker is coming to Decatur from Fulton County Schools, where she is the deputy chief academic officer. In that role, she supervises the assistant superintendents of student support services and learning and teaching. She oversees a budget of $48 million in general funds, $61 million in federal funds, and $47 million in ESSR funds.

Whitaker’s contract also provides a $700 monthly allowance for routine and reasonable expenses, such as vehicle expenses. Whitaker will receive 15 vacation days beginning on July 1 of each year to be used on the contract year. The superintendent could receive $1,044.44 per day for unused vacation days. That payment cannot exceed $15,666.67 per year. 

“If the Board increases the Superintendent’s base salary during the term of this contract, the School System shall calculate a new daily rate of pay for unused vacation days based on the increased base salary,” the contract states. 

She will also earn 15 sick leave days beginning on July 1 of each year. 

Whitaker said she was humbled to receive a unanimous vote from the school board.

“City Schools of Decatur…it’s really a gem when we think about a school system that is doing very innovative things for students, the school system that is really is already a good school system, but wants to be a great school system,” Whitaker told Decaturish, adding later, “When you think about a gem, a gem is something that’s typically hard to find, very precious, and I really want to make sure that the brilliance that I know is here in this district is going to be seen at a higher level by all students.”

She is looking forward to getting to know the Decatur community, as well as the staff and students of CSD.

“When it comes to the staff, I’m someone that thinks about each individual and their strengths and how can I build their capacity so that they can be more effective and the school district itself can be more effective on behalf of the students,” Whitaker said. “That No. 1 focus on the community and the students themselves, and then No. 2 with the staff.”

Maggie Fehrman has served as the interim superintendent since 2021. She took over for former superintendent David Dude in April 2021 after he left the district following months of investigative stories by Decaturish.com that examined allegations raised by the school district’s former human resources director. The School Board gave Fehrman a one-year contract in May 2021. 

The school board amended Fehrman’s contract in February 2022 and extended it for another year. Fehrman’s current contract, which began on July 1, 2022, gives her a $10,000 raise, from $190,000 to $200,000. She’s also eligible for a retention bonus of $25,000 if she completes the full term of her contract. She can also get a payment of up to $13,333 if she does not use all 15 of her personal leave days.

Fehrman announced on March 24 that she was no longer seeking the position of superintendent. She has not announced her plans, and previously said she is considering several options. 

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