Escambia County

Thomas strongarms church

December 17, 2009

Without talking with Rev. May, Superintendent Malcolm Thomas goes on television and says that he has made a deal to sell Brownsville Middle School. He was asked by the school board to negotiate with the Rev. May and the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, but there were not negotiations…just Thomas going on television and talking to the News Journal reporters saying he was accepting an offer that he had previously rejected. Thomas didn’t even talk with Rev. May to see if the offer was still on the table. In fact, his real estate agent was told that it wasn’t.

Meanwhile, Rev. May has received dozens of phone calls of support and concern that the $1 million is too much for the property. Apparently the School Board has given other schools for $1/year leases, such as the ARC Gateway facility. I spoke with Rev. May last night and he was stunned that Superintendent Thomas was announcing an agreement had been made without ever talking with him directly.

Thomas did try to call him yesterday afternoon before his announcement on television, but Rev. May was tied up in meetings and asked that they meet later in the week. The next thing, Rev. May had reporters at his church and a packet from the School District setting a closing date.

Rev. May wanted the extra time to get a better handle on the repairs needed for the school and to meet again with his church board.

Is this how negotiations should be done? Thomas refuses to work with Rev. May directly. He turns down an offer Tuesday night and less than 24 hours later he is going to media without ever meeting one-on-one with Rev. May. What’s his rush?

The irony is Malcolm Thomas has on the school website a podcast labeled “Collaboration“. It’s about how his “cooperation to collaboration continuum”… it would seem conversation should be part of the continuum.

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