Mansfield Senior High School building

Mansfield Senior High School.

MANSFIELD -- The Mansfield City Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a contract Tuesday night hiring Larry Hickman as a consultant for the career-technical education program.

According to Superintendent Stan Jefferson, Hickman has extensive experience in career-technical education and had consulting fees that were much lower than other candidates. Hickman will be paid $75 per hour, not to exceed $24,400 for the school year, using funds from the Perkins V Grant.

Board member Linda Golden questioned the decision to pay for Hickman’s contract with Perkins Funds.

“I know that consultants are an allowable expense for this, but that Perkins Fund in the past has always been used for students, for equipment, dues for career tech student organizations, field trips and I know it's gone down every year,” she said. “This is probably more than a fourth of that money going to pay for that consultant.

"Was that considered?”

Nikia Fletcher, interim director of career technical education, stated the district has received about $128,000 from the Perkins Fund this year.

“The rest of it is going towards some equipment that we are making to upgrade our machine trades lab and several other initiatives that directly involve students and student services,” Fletcher said.

She added that in the past, Perkins Funds have been used to hire paraprofessionals in the culinary and automotive technology programs.

“There's always been an element of Perkins Funds that was for staff, but the equivalent amount, actually less, is going towards Larry's contract,” she said.

Fletcher said hiring Hickman to help develop the three-year plan was crucial to boosting the department.

“We want to look at all our programs from a community need perspective -- Are we providing the right things for the area we serve? Are we providing the right programs for our students?” she said. “We are looking under every crack in our CTE program so that we can better it and really make it one of the premier programs in Richland County.”

The board approved Hickman’s contract in a 5-0 vote.

Principal Marinise Harris of Mansfield Senior High School spoke briefly in recognition of her late colleague Amanda Mahon, who had worked as the high school’s assistant principal.

“She bled orange and brown,” Harris said. “She was much more than a typical administrator. She was a mother, she was a nurse, she was an educator, a disciplinarian.

“I would not have been able to make it through my first year as an administrator without Amanda on my team. I not only lost a coworker, I lost a friend and I lost a sister.”

The district will be planting a dawn redwood in Mahon’s honor. According to Harris, the dawn redwood tree is symbolic of wisdom, vitality and legacy.

Board member Renda Cline also shared words of appreciation for Mahon.

“I know that she made a huge impact on the Tyger family,” Cline said. “Even in times when she was having a difficult time, she was still dedicated to the district and that will always be remembered.”

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Staff reporter focused on education and features. Clear Fork alumna. Always looking for a chance to practice my Spanish. You can reach me at katie.ellington@richlandsource.com