By Jeff Noble, Staff writer
Last month’s approval of a 2-percent raise for all full-time employees of the Knox County Public Schools — both certified and classified — is still on.
But after rewording the motions to make sure the actions are legal by the state, the Knox County Board of Education voted to grant the raise again Tuesday.
First, they voted unanimously to reverse and revoke the 2-percent raise that was to be retroactive to July 1 of this year, that was approved at the Nov. 27 meeting. Board Chairman Kenneth Crawford said that was done based on constitutional questions by the Kentucky Department of Education and the state Attorney General’s Office.
Second, board members unanimously voted to discuss and take action on a one-time prospective fringe benefit bonus — an additional compensation amount which would be a one-time, lump sum payment of $250 for each full-time employee, as of Tuesday.
Board employee Gertrude Smith said the payment should be done by the Wednesday before Christmas.
Third, they discussed and took action on an across-the-board, 2-percent increase, beginning next month. Officials said last month the total amount to be paid for the raises was estimated at $575,038 for one year. Money for the raises will come directly out of the district’s rainy day fund. Smith said Tuesday the amount in the fund was estimated at about $1,074,006.
But like last month, questions about having enough money for the raises continued to fester during Tuesday’s meeting.
“Surely we can sustain this over a two-year period,” Crawford told the board.
Board member Carla Jordan replied, “This may not be the best time to make fiscal decisions that would have long-term effects in the future.”
“Those members coming in are as responsible for keeping this rainy day fund up as you, Ms. Jordan,” replied Crawford.
A word of caution came from board member Sam Watts. “If you don’t have nothing, you won’t get nothing. … Just go ahead and vote.”
When it was time to vote for the 2-percent raise, the motion passed, 3-2. Like last month’s vote, Crawford and board members Clarence Brown and Marty Smith voted “yes,” while Watts and Jordan voted “no.”
Tuesday’s session was the last for Smith, Brown and Crawford. All three incumbents were defeated in their re-election bids last month, with Smith being replaced by Charles W. Merida, Brown being replaced by Merrill Smith, and Crawford being replaced by Dexter Smith.
Among other actions, the board approved a revised BG-1 (Buildings and Grounds) document for bid packages 1 and 2 on the renovation project at Dewitt Elementary School. Officials say the financial page was revised to show the district has funds to match the costs. Of that, $535,000 will got towards the roof replacement and replacement of windows at the school, with $300,000-$400,000 pegged for replacing the school’s aging wastewater treatment plant.
Also approved was an iPad lease proposal for Girdler Elementary School, which would be paid for by site-based funds for the next three years.
“It moves our technology plan forward,” said Superintendent Walter Hulett.
In addition, there will be a new name for the field house at Lynn Camp High School, as board members approved naming the facility the Clarence Brown Field House, in honor of the outgoing board member.
“He has given his time, sweat and tears to get that field house built. It would be appropriate to name it after him,” Crawford said before the vote.
Brown, Smith and Crawford also received appreciation plaques from Hulett for their combined years of service on the school board. That presentation was made at the end of the meeting.
“Everybody’s been great here since the first time I walked in here. You guys aren’t always going to agree on everything, but you do agree on helping the kids. Parents, your input with the children is critical to the teachers,” said Crawford after receiving his plaque.
Brown replied, “I’ve tried to do the best I know how.”
Smith added, “I’ve been educated in the four years I’ve been here.”
Earlier, elementary students with the Knox County Academic League were awarded certificates for their performances in the “quick recall” academic quizzes. A group of four sixth graders (varsity students in the competition played a game of quick recall with four board members, using the bells and buzzers similar to an actual quiz.