By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
For the first time since 2009, all full-time employees of the Knox County Public Schools, certified and classified, will get a raise.
In a 3-2 vote, the Knox County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to give those employees an across-the-board raise of two percent, retroactive to July 1, 2012 – the start of the current 2012-13 school year.
Officials said the total amount to be paid for the raises is estimated at $575,038 for one year. That money will come out of the school district’s rainy day fund of about $1.1 million, which has accumulated over a two-year period. Board Chairman Kenneth Crawford said after the vote about a half-million dollars would be left over in the fund after the raises are paid.
The last time full-time employees were given a raise/increase in the Knox County Public Schools was back on July 1, 2009, when they were given a one-percent increase for the 2009-10 fiscal year.
Board members noted the action to give raises comes at a time when the state Department of Education continues to make cuts in funding. At one point, some discussed whether to give those employees affected a two-percent or one-percent raise. For a one-percent raise, the total amount that would have been paid for would have amounted to an estimated $287,519.
One woman in the audience made her voice heard for the raise.
“The teachers in Knox County make less than any teachers in the area, about a thousand dollars less. They went to school for a long time. Who wants to teach here?” she stated.
When the vote came, Board Chairman Kenneth Crawford and Board Members Clarence Brown and Marty Smith voted “yes,” while Vice Chairman Carla Jordan and Board Member Sam Watts voted “no.”
The board also approved a five-year reciprocal agreement with the Barbourville Independent Schools. Like the salary raise vote, the margin was 3-2, with Crawford, Brown and Smith voting “yes,” while Jordan and Watts voted “no.”
At press time, other items on the agenda were being discussed and voted on at the session, held at the Annex Building in Barbourville.
Earlier at the meeting, Director of Pupil Personnel Gina Sears said the district’s Bully Reporting Hotline was now up and running. She added that students can call on an anonymous basis if they feel bullied or threatened. Each school in the district has a dedicated bullying hotline telephone number, and that students or parents can send a text message to those numbers, or call and leave a voice message. The messages are forwarded to one or more school officials designated to monitor reports, and the Caller ID is masked, which ensures the report is completely anonymous.
“We got it going yesterday. I’m sure it’s not a surprise that bullying is a nationwide problem. The schools and counselors have done the training, and we’re set up and ready to go,” said Sears.
An update on energy projects in the district being done by Trane was given by Jim Sparks, Trane’s project manager. He said the company is working on projects at G. R. Hampton and Lynn Camp Elementary Schools, while a third project will start at Jesse D. Lay Elementary School next Monday. Sparks added a project on lighting is now underway, also at Lay Elementary.
An update on Knox Central High School’s PLA, or “Big Rock Plan for Progress” was given by the school’s principal, Tim Melton. Presentations were also given on the district’s results in the recent “Unbridled Learning/K-PREP test scores, as well as a report by Lay Elementary’s “Energy Team.”
Sears also gave trophies and awards to Lay Elementary, Knox Middle School and Lynn Camp High School for the highest attendance for the month.