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Sullivan County BOE gives go-ahead to begin talks with Ohio-based company

March 4th, 2014 7:22 am by Rick Wagner

Sullivan County BOE gives go-ahead to begin talks with Ohio-based company

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County’s school board formally moved Monday night to negotiate a facilities study contract with Dublin, Ohio-based DeJong-Richter.

After a unanimous vote to reconsider a mid-January decision to negotiate with Knoxville-based Red Chair Architects, the board voted 7-0 to negotiate with DeJong-Richter instead.

The Kingsport school board is to vote for DeJong-Richter negotiations at its Thursday meeting, setting the stage for what county Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said likely would be a single contract for a joint Kingsport-Sullivan County comprehensive facilities study.

County BOE member Todd Broughton asked if the vote indicated the national firm would select a particular local firm with which to partner since Beeson, Lusk and Street Architects had been mentioned at a recent joint work session of the Kingsport and county boards.

Yennie said no, but that the final contract, which would require approval by both boards, would specify a local firm.

Shortly after the January county board decision, one of the main architects with Red Chair moved to Community Tectonics, another Knoxville-based firm.

The study will look at conditions of facilities, as well as enrollment and demographic projects and program needs for facilities.

On other matters, the board voted 6-1 to adopt a differentiated pay plan for 2014-15, which did not change the existing salary scale or implement performance-based pay but did use a state-mandated Teacher Leader program as a way for teachers to earn more money through stipends.

Broughton said he feared the incentives send a bad message to janitors and maintenance staff, who had their hours and thus pay cut, but member Randall Jones said the state has given the county enough money earmarked for Teacher Leaders pay for two years.

Broughton also said he feared principals’ “favorite” teachers would get the positions, but member Robyn Ivester said the program must be marketed so that teachers know that will not happen.

Also at the meeting, Assistant Director David Timbs announced four county schools that were on the “cusp” of being designated a Rewards School by the state of Tennessee. The four schools are:

 — Central Heights Elementary, led by Principal Jeff Hickam, for being in the top 6 to 10 percent of schools in academic performance. It was a Rewards School two years ago.

— Blountville Elementary, led by Principal Vangie Montgomery, which was in the top 5 percent for value-added scores but was not given Rewards School status because it had a subgroup achievement gap that widened.

— Indian Springs Elementary, led by Principal Karven Nave, which was in the top 6 to 10 percent in achievement and value-added scores.

— Holston Elementary School, led by John Weaver. It would have been a Rewards School except it was a Focus School last year and thus not eligible for Rewards School status.

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