Superintendent Aitken may ask for buyout - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Superintendent Aitken may ask for buyout

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

FOX13 News has confirmed that Unified Schools Superintendent John Aitken may ask for a buyout at the next school board meeting that's scheduled for Tuesday, March 19.

It is unclear if Aitken will definitely ask for the buyout, but FOX13 sources say he could be considering it.

If he ask for a buyout, whose contract is good through February 2015, and it's improved that means Superintendent Aitken will leave a job which required him to help execute a school merger.

Aitken is unavailable for comment as the school system is on spring break.

Unified school board members tell FOX13 News there's been talk of a possible buyout for Aitken for weeks. The issue is expected to be discussed Tuesday after an attorney-client meeting.

Superintendent Aitken has been leading the Unified School System through the merger process. Former Memphis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash resigned in January. Since then, Aitken has been working on a merged budget and implementing the consolidation recommendations of the transition planning commission.

Aitken, who was named Tennessee Superintendent of the Year in 2012 has repeatedly said he wants the top job over the merged system, but school board member Mike Wissman says he sees where this constant uncertainty of the board's actions is getting old.

"You've got a special master coming in, and an interim superintendent, and he hasn't said this, but both who make considerable amount more money than you do," Wissman said. "You're doing all the work and taking the blame."

The board has been conducting a nationwide search for a superintendent using an outside consultant firm. Board members who voted to do the search said they owed it to the citizens to do the search. But Wissman says that could be part of Aitken's frustration.

"You're telling a guy that's already under contract, if we do a superintendent search and don't like what we get, you'll get it because you're under contract," Wissman said. "I wouldn't apply for a job that was already mine."

Wissman doesn't expect Superintendent Aitken to formally apply to the firm conducting the search.

If Aitken gets bought out, the school district might be paying for three superintendents at the same time. The district just bought out Dr. Cash's contract and is searching for a new superintendent.

The suburban board members who were always trying to do away with the national superintendent search may be eying Aitken as a potential superintendent for their municipal school district. A bill to allow municipal schools statewide will be in committee in Nashville on Tuesday, March 18.

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