City BOE approves pay raise

  By Thomas Wilson
  
star staff
  twilson@starhq.com
  Teachers and staff of Elizabethton City Schools scored a victory Thursday night as the city's Board of Education voted unanimously to award a 1 percent pay increase on top of a 2 percent pay raise provided through the state of Tennessee 2005 fiscal year budget.
  ECS teachers and staff will receive a 2 percent salary increase through the state's Basic Education Plan plus the 1 percent local pay raise from the school district. ECS Superintendent Dr. David Roper announced earlier this year that the system would request the pay increase for teachers.
  The "yes" votes of all five board members elicited applause from a handful of teachers and Elizabethton Education Association representatives present at the meeting.
  "I hope the other teachers are pleased," said BOE Vice Chairman Judy Richardson, a retired schoolteacher who was involved in contract negotiations during her career with ECS.
   "It takes a lot of hard work."
  The Tennessee General Assembly approved Gov. Phil Bredesen's 2005 budget with the 2 percent raise for teachers under the BEP formula plus a one-time "bonus" representing a portion of designated state funds. The bonus dollars will be distributed to teachers throughout the state later this year.
  ECS administration recommended and the board approved a $1,000 bonus for teachers and staff earlier this year after the system realized significant savings on health care insurance premiums for the 2004 fiscal year.
  The BOE also voted 5-0 approving revisions to the system's master contract with the EEA. The revisions included pay equalization for some members of the Elizabethton High School coaching staff and transfers supplements designated for assistant coaches to a team's head coach if no assistant fills an advertised coaching position.
  Under the revised contract agreement, if a team's assistant coach resigns and his or her position is not filled within 10 days the team's head coach will get the assistant coach's pay supplement for doing both jobs.
  EEA representative Harry Farthing told board members the coaching pay issue was initiated when head coaches found it difficult to hire assistants for some high school sports. Farthing said the high schools swimming and soccer teams were hit hardest with the teams' head coaches often comprising the entire coaching staff.
  "We've had long standing problems getting assistants hired in those spots," Farthing said. "Swimming has been hardest hit because Coach (Jonell) Johnson works all summer."
  The school system's Cyclone Center also officially has a new home for the coming school year. The board unanimously approved a lease agreement with the Elizabethton-Carter County Boys and Girls Club to house the system's Early Childhood Learning program at the club's facility on Hudson Drive.
   The lease agreement extends from Aug. 11, 2004 to May 31, 2005. The school system's initial monthly rent is $2,000. The early learning program provides preschool programs to over 60 children from the city and county.
  In other business, the board voted 5-0 to expand a part-time paraprofessional position in the Early Childhood Learning program to a full-time position for the upcoming school year.