BOE to sign Roper

By Thomas Wilson

   The Elizabethton Board of Education has opted not to wait six days for its regular December board meeting to approve a contract making Dr. David Roper the new director of Elizabethton City Schools.
   A specially called meeting of the BOE is scheduled tonight at 6 p.m. at the ECS Administration building. Board Chairman Dr. Bob Sams said the reason for the board's haste was to allow Roper to inform his present school system of his departure.
   "He cannot announce anything down there until we approve it," said Sams. "The sooner we approve it, the sooner he can announce it down there."
   Roper's contract will pay him a base salary of $83,000 with a total compensation package including benefits at approximately $96,000, Sams said. The package will include a tax-deferred annuity payment of roughly $5,000. The board had originally decided not to offer that benefit to the next director.
   If the contract is approved, Roper will take over as director in mid-January, according to Sams. Interim Director Richard Culver will remain as superintendent until Roper takes the reins.
   Roper was chosen from a field of four candidates interviewed by the board in October. He was the only candidate to receive votes from all five board members when they selected two finalists at a meeting in November.
   The BOE voted 4-1 with Sams dissenting to negotiate only with Roper at its October board meeting. Board members held a round of negotiations with Roper in Nashville during a two-day Tennessee School Boards Association workshop.
   Roper has been superintendent of Roanoke City Schools in Roanoke, Ala., since 1999. His existing contract with that school system runs through 2005. During his tenure, the system was pulled out of a budget deficit and initiated several capital improvement projects. Roanoke schools also placed in the top 15 school districts in Alabama for student improvement on the Stanford Achievement Test scores.