BLOUNTVILLE - Members of the Sullivan County Board of Education hope a few suggested changes to current Director of Schools Glenn Arwood's contract will help eliminate some "gray areas," which have been subject to debate over the last few months.
"I think if we're going to look at this, these things (items of confusion in the director's contract) need to be spelled out so that if someone looks at it (the contract), other than ourselves, there's no question," said board member Ron Smith.
Arwood's 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.
At the April BOE meeting, members requested a work session to look at a few unclear items in the contract.
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."
The 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 in addition to the $102,000 base salary provided in the current contract.
Several board members raised concerns as to whether this meant that Arwood should be given a raise when the state mandates a raise for teachers.
"Benefits and money are two different things, I feel," said board member Jim Kiss.
The board asked that the clause in question be removed. Instead, board attorney Pat Hull will clarify language on salary in another clause and spell out exactly what benefits Arwood will receive. With the change, the BOE will set Arwood's base salary, and any change to that salary will be based on performance evaluations.
Other requested changes that Hull will make to the contract include a clarification to the "Expenses" clause of the contract, in which the director would only receive mileage on top of current travel expenses when driving his personal vehicle. In addition, the "Medical Examination" clause will now require the director to submit to a yearly medical evaluation at the expense of the board. Performance evaluations will also either be able to be developed by the board or chosen from an outside source.
In other business, Arwood and Sullivan County Schools Maintenance Supervisor Joe Mike Akard updated the board on the current status of Blountville Middle School. The system has been exploring options for repair of the building using either maintenance staff or a hired contractor.
Akard said material estimates would run approximately $198,000. Labor cost estimate if school workers performed repairs on the school would run approximately $71,084 plus an additional 20 percent for staff benefits.
If the project was sent to bid by an outside contractor, Akard said he estimated the cost to be approximately $600,000.
After repairs to the building are complete, board members said they would support looking at building a new K-8 or pre-K-8 school on site. Arwood said, however, all options for repair or building are still on the table.