BLOUNTVILLE - The Sullivan County Board of Education wants to take a hard look at the contract with Director of Schools Glenn Arwood before extending the contract term.
"We have a great director of schools," said board member Betty Combs. "I have nothing negative to say, but … it (the contract) just needs to be rewritten and brought up to date."
"There was some confusion over the wording of this last contract," said board member Ron Smith. "I would feel more comfortable if we get this squared away before we look at what we're doing. Not only this board, but (also) I think some (county) commissioners had some questions. I think it behooves us, as a school board, to make sure we have all our i's dotted and our t's crossed."
The current contract was entered into in December 2005 for the term of July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2008. A motion was made at the March BOE meeting to extend the contract, but BOE members requested more time to review the document before making any decision.
Among items of contention, language in the contract stating that the "board shall provide the director with all benefits applicable to professional employees of the school system including, but not limited to, group hospitalization, coverage, holidays and sick leave."
This clause was pointed to in late March when the Sullivan County Commission approved a "correction" to the Department of Education's budget, in part to increase Arwood's salary by $2,300. That raise is addition to the $102,000 base salary provided in the current contract.
"There's a distinct difference between benefits and salary," Smith said. "I think it (the policy) needs to be worded differently."
Combs also raised concerns about the way Arwood's evaluation was conducted this year. Combs said she believed the evaluation used by the board was "store bought" and that in the future the BOE should have more input and make the evaluation more specific to the school system.
"According to the contract, the evaluation is to be drawn up by the school board, and I didn't feel as if the evaluation was personal enough," Combs said.
The BOE decided to sit down as a group with board attorney Pat Hull and work out some of the contract questions and language. Board Chairman Larry Harris said a special called work session on the subject would be set for late April.
In other business, the BOE got some good news in regard to Blountville Middle School. Sullivan County Schools Maintenance Supervisor Joe Mike Akard said the school's exterior walls are structurally sound.
"As far as structure, it (Blountville Middle School's exterior) is still as perpendicular as the day it was built," Akard said.
Some concern over the exterior walls was raised during a special called work session in late March when BOE members got a chance to tour the building. Akard said his staff took six separate measurements on the exterior walls and found no deflection greater than one-fourth of an inch.
Akard said the system is now waiting for a report from the fire marshal, but will then be able to move forward with repair or renovation of the building.
Some residents, however, have a different idea of what should be done with the school. Blountville Middle School PTA President David Hoelscher presented the BOE with a 400-signature petition for the construction of a new K-8 school in Blountville.