By Dewain E. Peek,
Overton County Board of Education took a step toward making teacher pay competitive with similar sized systems in the Upper Cumberland area by approving a new salary scale in the Tuesday, Jan. 11 regular monthly meeting.
When the item was brought up for consideration, School Board member Jarman Hicks asked if this would get Overton County on par with other counties its size.
Chairman Mike Hayes said this scale was constructed after looking at similar sized counties, including Clay, Smith, and DeKalb.
“We looked at some similar to our size, and we were very close in comparison,” he said.
The new salary scale was constructed through research by Director of Schools Donnie Holman and Central Office staff Sherry Webb and Crystal Nelson, along with Overton County Education Association representative Jennifer Eilender.
Eilender said, “When we did the analysis, we were farthest away from DeKalb County and the closest to Pickett County. Just looking at those two, everything else kind of fell in between. And this puts us right in range with those two systems, which puts us right in the middle of everybody.”
For payroll purposes, March was considered the earliest the new salary scale could go into effect, which would give most teachers in the system half of the year at the new pay scale.
School Board member Mitchell Stonecipher made a motion to approve the proposed teacher salary scale and have it begin in March, and Alice Reed seconded the motion.
On the vote, School Board members William Abston, Dolphus Dial, Ricky Dodson, Mike Gilpatrick, Hicks, Bruce Hudgens, Alice Reed, Stonecipher, Wayne Taylor, and Chairman Hayes voted yes. Chairman Hayes notified that he has a spouse and a son in the school system who will be affected by the salary scale, but that his vote is in the best interest of the school system, and Gilpatrick notified that he has a daughter and a son-in-law in the system, Dodson notified that he has relatives in the system, and Reed notified that she has nieces in the system.
John Cheney of Cope Architecture presented two options for video capabilities in a new scoreboard for the Livingston Academy football field.
The School Board has already approved $82,054.90 for a basic scoreboard, and would now look at finalizing any options for the scoreboard so the foundational needs could be addressed.
Cheney said, “That money has been approved for the scoreboard, but it did not include any video.”
Of two options, School Board members preferred the one with an 11.5 foot by 15.75 foot video portion and an overall size of 24 foot by 30 foot, which will give space to add four more potential static sponsorship spaces.
Chairman Hayes said, “Keep in mind, with the lighting, we’ve saved $30,000 on the lighting.”
Cheney said this option would increase the scoreboard cost $44,922.90.
Chairman Hayes said it would cost about $15,000 more after factoring in the saved “$30,000.
Abston made a motion for the $126,977 option along with instituting a communications class to operate the scoreboard. Hudgens seconded the motion. On the vote, all School Board members voted yes.
In the work session held immediately after the business meeting, Chairman Hayes said other bids on the football stadium project will be opened at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25.
“Once those are over, the quicker we approve those bids, as a Board, the quicker they can get started to work,” he said
Dodson asked Cheney, “Will we be able to play football there at the start of the year?”
“Yep,” Cheney answered.
Chairman Hayes said the scoreboard, the bleachers, and the lighting are to be up by July 31. He cautioned that the concession stand may not be ready by then.
The next School Board meeting was moved up to Tuesday, Feb. 1 in order to get the football stadium bids approved and keep the project moving forward.
School calendars for 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 were approved.
July 26-August 1 – Inservice Days.
August 2 – County-wide inservice Day.
August 3 – Registration Day.
August 4 – Teacher work day (Election Day, Discretionary Day 1).
August 5 – Students first full day of school.
September 5 – Labor Day, No School (Discretionary Day 2).
October 10-14 – Fall Break.
November 8 – Election Day, No School.
November 11 – Veterans Day, No School.
November 23-25 – Thanksgiving Break.
December 19 – Abbreviated Day.
December 20-January 2 – Christmas Break.
January 3 – Teacher Work Day, No Students (Discretionary Day 3).
January 4 – Students return.
January 16 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day, No School.
February 20 – Presidents Day, No School (Discretionary Day 4).
March 13-17 – Spring Break.
April 7-10 – Easter Holiday, No School.
May 24 – Last full day.
May 25 – Abbreviated Day.
July 25-31 – Inservice Days.
August 1 – County-wide Inservice Day.
August 2 – Registration Day.
August 3 – Teacher work day (Election Day, Discretionary Day 1).
August 4 – Students first full day of school.
September 4 – Labor Day, No School (Discretionary Day 2).
October 9-13 – Fall Break.
November 10 – Veterans Day, No School.
November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break.
December 18 – Abbreviated Day.
December 19-January 1 – Christmas Break.
January 2 – Teacher Work Day, No Students (Discretionary Day 3).
January 3 – Students return.
January 15 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day, No School.
February 19 – Presidents Day, No School.
March 5 – Election Day, No School (Discretionary Day 4)
March 11-15 – Spring Break.
March 29-April 1 – Easter Holiday, No School.
May 20 – Last full day.
May 21 – Abbreviated Day.
Wayne Sells’ letter of resignation as Attendance Supervisor was accepted.
Director Holman said, “He is a good asset for our school system. He’s worked hard, and I really enjoyed working with him and I’d just like to kind of go on record to say how much I appreciate all that he’s done for the school system, and I wish him well. He’s taking another career path and I hope him the very best. He was a good person to work with.”
A fence installation/repair bid was awarded to Rocky Top Fence for $35,794, which was the only bid.
The following budget amendments were approved: FY22 Carl Perkins Revision #3; FY22 ARP IDEA Revision #1; FY22 ARP IDEA Preschool Original Budget; FY22 ARP IDEA Preschool Revision #1; FY22 Early Literacy Networks Grant; and FY22 General Purpose School Budget Amendment #1.
Second reading approval was given for the following board policies recommended by TSBA: 4.209 – Alternative Credit Options; 5.302 – Sick Leave; 5.303 – Personal and Professional Leave; 5.306 – Military Leave; 5.701 – Substitute Teachers; 5.801 – Director of Schools Recruitment and Selection; 6.3041 – Title IX and Sexual Harassment; 6.305 – Student Concerns; and 6.500 –Special Education Students.
Minutes of the December 14, 2021 School Board meeting were approved.
The meeting adjourned, and the School Board went into a work session.
Veleka Davis, a mother of home schooled students in Overton County, again addressed the School Board about expanding use of Tech Trep Academy, a home school provider that currently serves 100 K-8 students in Overto County.
“I have four students in the program,” she said. “I’m a long-time home-schooler, this is my tenth year, so I’m not new at this.”
She said her husband is a lineman and that they moved from Overton County for better pay in California and began home-schooling there.
She said her children and others in Tech Trep Academy are considered public school students.
“When we sign up with Tech Trep Academy, we become public school students and now that funding comes from the state to Overton County Board of Education, and then they pay Tech Trep for the services.”
One of her children is about to enter high school and she has asked if Overton County can expand its Tech Trep offering to the high school level, which would require many more students to be economically feasible, possibly having to take in students from outside counties or across the state. At least 50 students would be needed.
Though not opposing the possibility, Chairman Hayes and Hicks voided concerns about accountability for outside students, as did Director Holman.
They and other School Board members expressed a need for more information, including how that truancy and graduation rates could count against Overton County Schools.