No pay hike for Belle

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FRANKLIN—Franklin City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle will continue to be paid $98,000 annually under a new three-year contract that took effect July 1.


The contract was signed in May after the school board voted unanimously in January for a three-year extension.

However, school officials would not make public the contract terms until The Tidewater News filed a request for the contract under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

The school board required a similar formal request by the newspaper when Belle was hired in March 2009.

Franklin School Board President Bill Scarboro said a FOIA request was required because “by state and federal statutes, personal information about personnel is not public information.”

Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, said that’s not true. State law dictates that contracts between a school board and its officers and employees are public record.

“Salary data is subject to release and contracts are subject to release,” Rhyne continued. “He (Scarboro) is just saying there are these laws, and that is not acceptable.”

Belle would not comment on the lack of a salary increase but said she was happy to have a new contract with the district.

“We have a lot of work to do for the children, and that’s what I plan to do,” she said.

Belle also will receive a $500-a-month automobile allowance, $3,000 annually toward an annuity or other retirement plan, and a $5,000 bonus if the three schools in the division meet federal and state testing standards. The only division school to meet federal standards of Adequate Yearly Progress last year was J.P. King Middle School.