Putnam schools looks at Boone’s Hudson for superintendent post

By Laura Haight, Staff Writer

Amid financial struggles and employment cuts in Boone County Schools, Superintendent John Hudson might be leaving the county to serve as superintendent in Putnam County.

Hudson is the proposed new superintendent for Putnam County Schools, according to the agenda for Wednesday night’s special meeting.

Hudson has been in the spotlight in recent months after the Boone County Board of Education voted to close three elementary schools and cut 80 positions.

If appointed superintendent in Putnam, Hudson would be paid $150,000 for the first year and receive a $5,000 raise each year until the end of his contract in 2020. By 2020, he would be making $165,000 a year.

Hudson earns $131,000 annually as superintendent of Boone County schools.

On Feb. 2, the Boone County Board of Education voted unanimously to grant Hudson a four-year contract extension with no pay increase for next school year but annual 3 percent pay increases for the three following years. The raises would’ve equaled roughly $4,000 for each of those three years, meaning he’d be making about an extra $12,000 by the final year of his new contract.

News of Hudson’s future raises surfaced at the same time when employees were learning whether they would keep their jobs or not.

After public outcry, the board voted unanimously on Feb. 23 to rescind the raises they had promised Hudson at the previous meeting.

Hudson has worked for Boone County Schools for 32 years, and is finishing his seventh year as superintendent.

Hudson said he understands that he will be the recommendation on the agenda, but didn’t want to offer any further comments until after the board meeting Wednesday night.

Mark Sumpter, Boone County Board of Education president, said if Hudson is appointed superintendent of Putnam County Schools, that would be a great opportunity for him.

When asked about Hudson leaving amid financial problems in Boone County, Sumpter said, “It’s probably like that in everything in life — there’s no perfect timing for anything.”

“I think Putnam County is one of the best school systems in the state of West Virginia,” Sumpter added. “For John to be on the agenda, I think it speaks volumes of John’s abilities and his potential.”

Carrena Rouse, head of the Boone branch of American Federation of Teacher’s Union, said Boone County has been hit by a “triple whammy” of loss of population, tax revenue and coal mining jobs, and doesn’t hold Hudson accountable for the district’s hardship.

“Until the state Legislature gets their act together and does something about the economic condition in Southern West Virginia, the crisis is only going to deepen,” Rouse said. “I don’t know what our answer is, but I know that our superintendent has done what he could.”

While her co-workers and friends lament, “Well, if we could just bring coal back,” but Rouse tells them the coal is here, and nobody is buying it.

“If no one buys the coal, we are stuck, and that’s where we are now. You cannot run something without buying the product,” Rouse said. “We’re losing our superintendent because of this.”

The Putnam County Board of Education will vote on Hudson’s appointment at 7 p.m. Wednesday during a special meeting at the Board of Education Building in Winfield.

Reach Laura Haight at laura.haight@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4843 or follow @laurahaight_ on Twitter.