The Williamson County School Board approved Superintendent Jason Golden's contract by a year, a recent tradition within the county's renewal process.
The board voted 9-1 to extend Golden's contract into the coming school year Monday night, with second district member Dan Cash being the only vote in the "no" column. Two members were in absentia, Sheila Cleveland and Candy Emerson.
Since taking over in 2019, Golden has led the district through the COVID-19 pandemic and the fervor that surrounded school policy during the height of the pandemic, with masks, in-person attendance and other COVID-related procedures and policies being guided by Golden's insights.
The county found itself in the center of national news during that time, with anti-mask protesters harassing masked medical professionals in the parking lot of an August 2021 school board meeting. The reporting from the Williamson Home Page went viral after that night and made it to the Oval Office with President Joe Biden commenting on the fracas of that meeting.
WCS' board said they overwhelmingly felt that Golden has led the district well during this unusual time, cementing his contract renewal through 2026. The board has been only extending a superintendent's contract by a year as of late, keeping Golden in lockstep with recent practice.
"In my opinion, Mr. Golden has followed and carried out the board's strategic plan and mission statement far beyond the minimum expectations with integrity and compassions for students, teachers and staff," seventh district board member Cleveland said in a prepared statement (she was unable to attend in person).
"He continues to find new ways to improve communication, not only to WCS parents, but to all Williamson County residents. In a country that has thrown education in the political arena during this election year, Mr. Golden manages to stay focused on what is important, student's education and maintaining the reputation of Williamson County Schools as being the top-performing school [district] in Tennessee and known throughout the country."
Ninth district member Rick Wimberly echoed Cleveland's comments, mentioning that Golden has led the school district through what he feels is "the most tumultuous experience that we have ever experienced."
"Was it perfect? No, but by golly, our schools were open most of the time," Wimberly added, "which is something most school districts in the country can't claim."
Sixth district member Jay Galbreath said that, while he's had criticisms of some of Golden's actions in the past, he feels confident in the superintendent going forward and will vote in favor of him being renewed.
"I think you did a great job [this year] in a couple areas," Galbreath said, "so I appreciate the fiscally responsible budget that was a big piece of your goal this year, and and being able to pay teachers more in that time was very good...there have been a couple of things that I think we talked about that I think have room for improvement. Overall, I think you've met my expectations this year."
Cash did not give reason for his declining vote, but with his colleagues all supporting Golden's new contract, the superintendent will continue on leading the school district.
"It's easier to hear criticism than to hear praise; it's very humbling to hear that from you all," Golden said after his approving vote was cast, complimenting the districtwide leadership that has helped him maintain his role.
He elaborated that the district is "moving forward" from the days of COVID, expressing his gratitude that the district was able to still take care of its student during that difficult time.
"We're going to continue that," Golden added. "This is hard, hard work. ... But, oh my goodness, hard work pays off, so thank you all."
To view the meeting in full, visit WCS' YouTube page.