School board unanimously approves Gardenhour’s contract

Published 7:27 am Friday, May 22, 2015

Dr. Corey Gardenhour’s position as the new director of Elizabethton City Schools is official after the Elizabethton Board of Education voted unanimously to approve his contract.

His contract for the director of schools position will be effective for four years from May 22, 2015 through May 21, 2019 at which time the board will have the option to renew it.

Gardenhour’s salary will be $105,000, and he will receive a monthly vehicle allowance of $400. He will also receive 15 vacation days per year, and will be reimbursed for any unused vacation days at the end of the year.

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His salary is an increase over that of former director Ed Alexander, who received a salary in the high $80,000 range.

Board chairwoman Rita Booher said the increase came for two reasons — first, the previous rate of pay was in the bottom half of pay rates as compared with similar school systems. Also, Alexander had requested a lower rate of pay, so the amount is similar to what had been paid to directors before Alexander’s tenure.

Gardenhour’s time with the school system, his experience and degree were also factors in the pay grade.

“Given the fact that he has spent as much time as he has with the school system, and he has the degrees that he has, I think this is appropriate,” Booher said.

Gardenhour received his doctorate in education from East Tennessee State University in education leadership and policy analysis.

Board members also discussed the terms of the contract but ultimately agreed the four-year time frame would convey stability to the community and the school system.

“This tells the community and the school system that we have the right person and that it is okay to take a breath,” Booher said. “This gives us stability. A four-year term is the maximum that a school system can give.”

The contract also calls for an annual performance evaluation. The contract can be terminated through mutual agreement, for cause, through order from the state board of education, unilateral termination on the part of the director as long as 120 days notice is given and if the director does not maintain residence in Carter County.

Currently, Gardenhour lives in Kingsport. The contract gives him 12 months to move to Carter County. At the end of that year, if Gardenhour has shown a “good faith” effort to move to Carter County but has not been able to do so, the board can choose to extend that term.

“I appreciate the opportunity,” Gardenhour said. “I think we’ll be great. We have a great group of children and a great group of people walking with them. It is a blessing to be working with the school system.”