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Clark’s signs new contract

Demopolis High School principal Leon Clark agreed to remain at the school Monday, bringing closure to a tumultuous 16-day period.

Clark signed and delivered a three-year contract well in advance of Monday’s noon deadline, exactly two weeks after the original contract offer and subsequent expiration that set off a public firestorm.

“Over the previous week and a half, the city has gone through a difficult time concerning our school system,” Clark and DCS Superintendent Al Griffin said through a joint statement. “Mismanagement of this matter and the responsibility for this is shared equally by the parties, but at all times the parties have had foremost the best interest of our school system and our students. The parties have continued to work together and are pleased and excited to inform the community that they have met, discussed their differences and resolved all issues. A contract has been issued to Mr. Leon Clark, and he has executed that contract and returned it to the board of education. As such, we encourage the community to start the healing process from this unfortunate chain of events, come together to work in harmony and take Demopolis toward a positive future.”

The contract okayed by Clark extends his original deal, which was set to expire in June, through the 2015 academic year.

Two weeks ago, Clark was offered a three-year extension that included 14 modifications. Clark refused to sign the offer. Those modifications were removed in the latest offer.

Clark’s $95,000 annual salary is unchanged, however he is eligible for raises when awarded by the State of Alabama.

“I’ve worked successfully with Mr. Clark for the last two, almost three years,” Griffin said, “and I look forward to working with him in the coming three years.”

Among Griffin and Clark’s shared goals are pulling the high school from school improvement, an accomplishment that rests squarely on the junior class next week. Demopolis High School found itself in school improvement after missing state benchmarks for the graduation rate and eleventh grade reading scores in 2009 and 2010. Last year the school exceeded both goals and is well on its way to clearing the graduation rate hurdle this year. Next up is 11th grade reading, for which testing will take place next week.

“On school improvement, it takes two years to get in and two years to get out,”Griffin said. “We’re on the way out and we feel good about getting out this year.”

Among all the other projects on the list at DHS and across the system, Griffin said his overall goal was clear and simple.

“My focus is on teaching and learning and what’s in the best of interest of those students,” he said.