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Green BOE reverses itself

FRANKLIN FURNACE —

In a reversal of its earlier decision the Green Local School Board has given David Hopper, Green High School principal, a new three-year contract.

In March the school board refused to renew the contract of Hopper, who had lead the school for the past six years. That decision galvanized members of the community who started two separate petition drives to save the principal’s job.

Meeting Monday night in the high school’s cafeteria, the school board heard for about 90 minutes from the community again wanting Hopper reinstated, according to Loretta Dixon, a Green High parent who was one of the activists spearheading the campaign to keep Hopper.

The group also presented the board with petitions bearing 200 names demanding the entire school board resign.

Those who spoke basically reiterated the same theme, Dixon said.

“The main thing was that there was no way to get a tax levy passed to build new schools,” Dixon said. “Steve Willard (board president) asked Hopper if he would be willing to meet in executive session and he said sure. They went into executive session 30 to 45 minutes and came out and offered him a three-year contract.”

Hopper contact this morning declined to elaborate on the content of the executive session but said he was pleased with the final outcome.

“We went into executive session and hashed some things out and the obvious turnout was for the better for me,” he said. “We hashed some things out they thought were issues and weren’t.”

On March 17 petitions with 248 signatures were presented to the board wanting Hopper to stay. A week later, the board voted not to renew the principal’s contract. That started the second petition drive asking the board to resign, plus two separate student demonstrations at the high school and a town meeting all in support of Hopper.

Hopper’s supporters contended that the principal lost his job because of his other duty as basketball coach. For the past two years the school has not had a winning season.

Throughout the controversy, the board has maintained its silence on why Hopper’s contract was not renewed.

Joining Dixon in the community effort was Sandra Cherry, a volleyball and track coach at Green.

“We are thrilled,” Cherry said this morning. “I think the support, the public support. The fact we didn’t back down and take their “no” vote and go. It is what the community wanted and the board finally listened. They really listened that night.”

The vote for the new contract was 4 to 1, with Ralph Salyers dissenting. A phone call was made to Salyers’ home this morning, but there was no answer.

Calls made this morning to the offices of Superintendent Ron Lindsey and board president Steve Willard were not returned by press time.

When asked what he learned from the experience Hopper said,

“I’ve learned to do your job right and people will stand up and back you,” he said. “I never knew I had that much support, especially from the kids. There is a little different buzz in the building today.”