Western Heights Superintendent Responds To Backlash


Thursday, October 24th 2019, 9:01 am
By: Ashley Holden


The Western Heights Public Schools superintendent is getting backlash for his management of the district.

Mannix Barnes took the job this past summer after getting an alternative administrative certificate.

In order to get that particular certification, Barnes had to complete additional educational courses and pass the required tests. 

But parents, the president of the local education association and employees have raised numerous concerns. One of those is Barnes's salary. 

"I don't see the school district going in a good direction, and I'm terrified," said one Western Heights parent.

She, like many that wrote in to News 9, wanted to remain anonymous. The parent said she has a daughter who's a senior in high school. 

For that parent, she was "furious" when she found out Barnes was getting paid a base salary of $220,000.

"To me personally, his background does not justify that kind of pay," that parent told News 9. 

"This is probably one of the toughest districts that any superintendent would have to deal with," Barnes said when he sat down with News 9. "There is severe issues with discipline that we are dealing with on a daily basis."

He said discipline and dealing with parents have been some of the top issues he's been working to improve, as well as attendance. 

Barnes background is in business and management, but he says he earned his certification. The new superintendent told News 9 he thinks that the job takes a unique person. 

"I realize they say well you haven't been a classroom teacher. Well, if you look at this job, 80 percent of the job deals with financial decisions," Barnes said. 

He's getting some help with that from former Superintendent Joe Kitchens.

"He's an analyst for me right now," Barnes said. "This is very common when there's a transition."

Barnes told News 9 Kitchens is paid a daily rate of $200, but only when needed. 

 

News 9 asked Supt. Barnes about the issues that people wrote in about including the ones involving buses. 

 

"We've had some transportation issues where we have not had buses to transport the children to and from school." said President of the Western Heights Education Association, Sharon Teague.

 

Supt. Barnes said they did have seven drivers call in last week on one particular day, and the district is looking for four to five drivers. He also said they are working through any day-to-day bus issues. 

 

When asked about employees claiming they weren't getting their whole paycheck the superintendent said that wasn't "accurate at all".  He did tell News 9 the district had an issue with their payroll vendor that impacted several employees last week. Supt. Barnes said they had their vendor write a letter claiming fault. 

 

"Morale is not very good right now because of what's going on and the rumors," Teague told News 9.

 

But Supt. Barnes said he wants anyone with issues to call and meet with him.

 

"I haven't even been here 90 days. I haven't even been given an opportunity to show what I can do," said Supt. Barnes.