Special to The Times-Tribune
The Knox County Board of Education approved a $2.12 pay raise for bus mechanics and the route manager during a special called meeting held Tuesday evening.
“I have had a busy week looking at staffing and pay schedules and one thing brought to my attention was the pay of our mechanics for buses,” said Knox County School Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles.
Sprinkles pointed out the pay increase would merely bring Knox County’s bus mechanics pay level in line with mechanics in surrounding districts.
“What this will do is bring us in line with other districts and will also keep us competitive,” Sprinkles said, adding that in the end the district would still save money because it was not renewing a previous parts manager position.
“We have not replaced the parts manager position, so that money will be available to cover these raises and there will still be a significant savings for the district,” Sprinkles said.
The education board also discussed and approved several staffing items, including the creation of an attendance specialist position that was previously a certified position.
“It will be a classified position, which will replace a certified position due for retirement, so we will save some money there,” Sprinkles said, adding that attendance was critical for the school district.
“State funding is tight, so we need to do all that we can to get attendance up to get money back into the schools. Focusing on getting these kids in school and documenting if these kids are actually living in our district is important. There will be a lot of work going into this position,” Sprinkles said.
Because the position is switching from certified to classified, the district will save a significant amount of money. Salary for a certified position would be around $57,000, while someone with no experience filling out the classified position will start out at around $25,000.
“So it will be a big savings,” Sprinkles said.
The board also approved the creation of a part-time teaching position for Lynn Camp High School to provide some additional Advance Placement courses to help get students ready for college.
The creation of a director of curriculum position was approved as well.
“With new professional growth and evaluation systems, that is a huge component for our school systems. I feel there is a tremendous need for this position,” Sprinkles said.
An assistant principal position at Lynn Camp High School was also approved, as was the annual creation of co-op positions.
“We are asking to use the same number of positions that we had last year for a total of 17 co-op students. These students get real world experience and know what it is like to be out in the work place. It is valuable and a very good thing for our students,” Sprinkles said.
Other business discussed and approved at the meeting was a proposal request for architectural services for the Lynn Camp roof project.
“Of course Lynn Camp’s roof has been in pretty bad shape for some time. We have done patchwork, but it is at the point that it is well beyond its life span, so we are asking the board to put out a request for a proposal so we can look at some options to replace the roof,” Sprinkles said, adding that “fixing it will be a cost saver down the road.”
It was also announced that Knox County Public Schools plan to participate with Corbin and Whitley Schools in the Race to the Top Grant.
“This is for a federal grant, some funds have become available, potentially up to $30 million so we are asking to join several other counties. The purpose of the grant is to provide funds to these districts in technology, staffing, supplies and professional development. As you all know, money is tight and this would be an opportunity for us to get some funds,” Sprinkles said, adding that applying for the grant would cost the district nothing. Corbin and Whitley school districts already have their board approval on it.
“I do want to say, these are very competitive grants across the United States, so for us to join together with other districts increases our chance of getting funds,” Sprinkles said.