Board approves new rule for selecting superintendent

Published 8:10 am Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In an “ironic” timing twist, the Elizabethton Board of Education unanimously approved a change to the policy regarding the recruitment and selection of the superintendent of schools during their meeting Monday night.

The change was presented to the board by the Tennessee School Board Association after their independent review determined the city school’s policy was not in compliance with state law.

“It is ironic that they bring this to us now while we are in the middle of a search for our next superintendent,” Assistant Superintendent Richard VanHuss said.

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The board’s old policy required the superintendent be elected by at least a two-thirds vote, but VanHuss said the TSBA ruled that was not a requirement by Tennessee law. The policy was changed to reflect the need for a simple majority.

“We did not request this review,” VanHuss said. “They did this on their own and brought it to us.”

In other business, the board approved a resolution that will allow the transfer of funds from the general purpose fund to the federal project fund.

Finance Director Beth Wilson explained the amendment would not change the way business is conducted, and that the change came at the request of the state comptroller.

Currently, the general purpose fund and the federal project fund are in the same account, Wilson said. She said sometimes the general fund money is used to offset the federal project expenses until the federal money arrives in the account.

“This amendment says the general funds can be used until the federal project dollars come in,” Wilson said. “We have always done it this way. Now it is on paper.”

The board appointed Susan Peters and Tyler Fleming to serve on the Committee of Trustees to administer the sick leave bank. Under the sick leave bank, professional full-time employees can apply to receive additional sick days if they have expended all of their accrued days.

The sick leave bank was established in 1993, Administrative Assistant Clara Perkins said. She described the sick leave bank as a great tool that had helped many employees.

“I have seen several people the sick bank has been a lifesaver for,” Perkins said. “They can use these days and it has helped save their salary until they can get back to work.”

Gardenhour said for as long as he could remember the sick bank had never ran out of days, and there has not been an employee to ask for more days than were actually needed.

“This is a great thing,” Chairwoman Rita Booher said. “It serves a very noble purpose.”

The Board of Education unanimously approved the proposed calendar for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year. The first day of classes will be on Thursday, Aug. 6, and classes will hold the last full day on Friday, May 20.

Director of Early Learning and Data Services Ed Pless updated the board on ACT test scores. Pless said the school system ranked 9th in the state for the composite score with an average of 20.9.

“This is 1.6 points ahead of the state average,” Pless said.

Parent Debra Scalf presented the board with a letter explaining why she would not be pursuing an appeal into the investigation of her complaints that Elizabethton High School coach Shawn Witten “verbally, mentally, emotionally and physically” abused her son.

Scalf wrote she would not be seeking an appeal because she and others had “spoken from our hearts and no action has been taken by your board.”