County BOE to divide equity raise according to experience

By Lesley Jenkins
Star Staff

The Carter County Board of Education on Monday formally approved the agreement for teacher equity pay for Carter County teachers. The salary increases will be divided according to level of experience, the board decided.
   Teachers with up to nine years of experience will receive $2,207. Those with 10 to 19 years experience will garner $2,707, and teachers who have spent more than 20 years educating will have their salary boosted by $3,207 in the coming academic year.
   Larry Heaton, Chief Negotiator for Carter County Education Association, said that even though the increase will take effect in the new school year, funds will be renegotiated each year.
   The raise originates from a plan initiated by Gov. Phil Bredesen to help the state resolve an ongoing lawsuit (Small Schools v. McWherter) which asserts that teachers in small school systems deserve salaries comparable to those in larger systems.
   Bredesen's budget provided $26.7 million to beef up salaries for the 17,000 most underpaid of local teachers. Carter County recieved $1.33 million to divide among teachers as part of the plan. Carter County teachers are ranked as the lowest paid teachers in the state of Tennessee.
   In other business, School Board Member Gebe Ritchie expressed his feelings to the board about a survey that is being conducted concerning building a new school in the Stoney Creek area. He showed concern about funds that are going toward building a new jail and said the county should instead consider using funds for a new school.
   "Carter County is not obligated to house state prisoners. Their obligation is to educate their children. County Commissioners need to be well aware that this is one of the county's major problems," stated Ritchie.
   School Board Member Daniel Holder said the survey is still in progress and that information is still being gathered to determine a need for a new school in Stoney Creek.
   Steve Chambers mentioned his concern for safety lights that need to be placed at Hampton Elementary and Little Milligan Elementary. According to Chambers, police officers cannot write tickets to speeding motorists in a school zone unless there is a traffic safety light placed there. Various grant applications are being considered as a possible way to fund the new lights.
   The BOE also recognized outstanding individuals in the school system at the meeting.
   Dallas Williams, Director of Schools, presented Happy Valley High School track team member David Hughes an award for becoming the state tournament winner in the 1 and 2 mile race, and for placing fifth in the 800 meter race.
   Mike Ensor accepted an award for participating in the state tournament in baseball as a coach for the Unaka High School baseball team. Ensor also accepted an award on behalf of his team for playing in the state tournament and for being the first team from Unaka High School to make it to the state tournament.