School Board approves Blevins contract

By Bob Robinson

STAR STAFF

   By a 4-1 vote, the Elizabethton School Board yesterday approved a four-year, $80,000 annual contract, which includes a $5,000 annual annuity, with Dr. Judy Blevins, director of Elizabethton City Schools.
   Board member Catherine Armstrong, who cast the only "no" vote, said she preferred the annual salary be kept at $70,000, the amount budgeted for the current fiscal.
   Ms. Armstrong asked "Where will the additional money come from?"
   Cynthia Roberts, city schools finance director, said the monies would come from non-instructional sources, such as the budget for gas, electricity and salary for the assistant director of schools position yet to be filled.
   The contract with Dr. Blevins is effective Sept. 27, 2001, the date the board appointed her director of schools, and expires Sept. 26, 2005, according to Dr. Jonathan Bremer, board chairman.
   Board member Judy Richardson said she had spoken with some of her constituents, with a former superintendent and with Dr. Blevins.
   "Everybody I talked with said it would be an embarrassment if Elizabethton paid their school superintendent anything less. I am proud of the things this school system has done for students and the community," Ms. Richardson said
   Board member Dr. Robert Sams said the average annual salary for school superintendents in Tennessee was $78,000 and that many cities comparable to Elizabethton paid $85,000. "I feel we may be getting a bargain, here."
   Dr. Sams said 34 of 138 school systems, including Elizabethton, had school superintendents who hold doctorate degrees, "something most of us take for granted these days."
   Board member Bob Berry said Elizabethton has been lucky with the last three school superintendents. "We have hit three home runs in one ballgame. We need a good school system to attract industry. You have to pay to play the game."
   Dr. Bremer said he felt the proposed salary for Dr. Blevins was not out of line for superintendents with a doctorate degree.
   "Along with a high salary comes high expectations of performance. Dr. Blevins has been with the school system for 21 years and has a proven track record of success," said Dr. Bremer.
   Elizabethton is fortunate to have such an excellent group of teachers, staff, and superintendent as the team leader, Dr. Bremer said, before requesting the roll call vote.