The Baker School Board on a split vote Tuesday extended Superintendent Ulysses Joseph’s contract by one year, but not without some serious debate.

Joseph’s current contract ends Dec. 31. Joseph said he earns $118,000 a year as superintendent of Baker Schools.

“You never were allowed to be superintendent. Ms. Davis tells you when to turn,” board member Doris Alexander said, referring to school board member Elaine Davis.

When questioned by Alexander, Joseph admitted he had never been formally evaluated by the board.

“Because we did not evaluate you, I’m concerned about extending the contract for another year. I don’t know what I’m voting for,” Alexander said.

Board members Shona Boxie, Davis and Dana Carpenter voted in favor of the contract extension. Alexander voted against the measure and Troy Watson abstained without giving a reason.

Baker resident Carl Stages argued that problems in the school system should give the board pause when considering extending Joseph’s contract.

“I was at a Baker Chamber of Commerce open house and I heard comments that the School Board has been having trouble making payroll,” Stages told the board.

Stages also mentioned rumors that tablet computers were missing from Baker High School and cited the recent theft of a tree trimmer by a school employee as evidence of mismanagement.

Last Wednesday, Baker school system maintenance supervisor Emmit Whitfield was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison along with his wife, Queena Whitfield. Emmit Whitfield is accused of stealing a tree trimmer worth $450 from the Baker School System and his wife is accused of selling it to a pawn shop.

Emmit Whitfield resigned from his position effective Friday, Dec. 5, according to the superintendent’s personnel report presented at Tuesday’s meeting.

Watson also expressed disappointment that Joseph had never been evaluated by the board and said that it came down to politics.

“For four years, I have watched board members sit here and blow smoke up the public’s butts. We should have discussed this in a work session, but because of mistrust on the board and personal agendas on the board, we have to air our dirty laundry here. If we’d had a work session, this vote (on the contract extension) could have gone a lot smoother,” Watson said.

Carpenter explained that by state law, Joseph’s contract can be extended only for one year because a new School Board will be in place after Jan. 1.

All the board members will retain their seats with the exception of Watson, who was defeated in the Nov. 4 election by Rosatina Johnson. Johnson received 51 percent of the vote, Watson had 37 percent and Jarrett Landor received 13 percent.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Baker Schools Superintendent Ulysses Joseph on Wednesday said the statement by Carl Stages about rumors of missing tablet computers from Baker High School are not true. Joseph said school officials report they have all their iPads and the paperwork to prove it.