KINGSPORT — Kingsport’s two new school board members took oaths of office Tuesday and had their first board meeting, during which the board approved the last year of the current hard-to-explain differentiated pay plan for teachers.
In addition, in a reception before the board meeting, the board recognized outgoing member and multi-term board President Susan Lodal for her 16 years of service on the board.
New members Jim Welch, a retired teacher, and Julie Byers, an Eastman Chemical Company retiree, took the oath of office and received prints of Church Circle given all newly elected city office holders, after which re-elected board President Carrie Upshaw presented boardmanship and school board responsibilities from the Tennessee School Board Association.
Re-elected incumbent Todd Golden, absent, is to be sworn in later, Assistant Superintendent Andy True said after the meeting. The board unanimously chose Upshaw president again and elected Eric Hyche vice president, the later position having been held most recently by Golden. New Mayor Pat Shull said during the campaign, he heard from residents: “We have a great school system, and we want to keep a great school system.”
“I’m honored and overwhelmed,” Lodal said, adding that she served 16 years in parent-teacher associations and attended Board of Mayor and Alderman and school board meetings before joining the board, as well as time as director of the children’s ministry at Waverly Road Presbyterian Church.
“I know that God has a plan just as he put me in this position,” Lodal said. Among those who attended the reception were immediate past Superintendent Lyle Ailshie, who has retired as a deputy commissioner of education at the state level after a combined 37 years in education.
DIFFERENTIATED PAY PLAN CHANGING FOR 2020-21, BUT NOT NOW
The board voted to retain the current teacher differentiated pay plan, but Moorhouse said a committee is working on a new one to be discussed at a fall retreat and approved after that, with the goal of announcing it in December or January. The single-lane pay plan takes into account hard-to-fill jobs, educational levels and other variables, but Moorhouse said it has proven difficult for potential new hires to understand.
“We didn’t want to rush a decision,” Moorhouse said. “Our current pay scale ... is hard to understand.” He said it is very competitive but needs to be more transparent. The current plan ties teacher raises, outside cost-of-living increases, mostly to test scores, but also includes hard-to-staff bonuses, degrees, experience and extra money for national certification.
IN OTHER ACTION
The board also:
— Approved moving $1,004,700 from fund balance to cover a new roof for Robinson Middle School, to be replenished by about $1 million in bond money pending from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The project bid is to be approved at the Aug. 13 school board meeting.
— Approved an agreement with the state to administer school nutrition programs for 2019-20.
— Approved in consent agenda items including school fees to remain the same and the Student Disciplinary Authority, both for 2019-20.