ROGERSVILLE — Although it wasn't a unanimous decision, the Hawkins County Board of Education agreed Tuesday to extend the director of schools search by two weeks and set a salary range between $90,000 and $125,000.
Current Director Charlotte Britton retires at the end of June, and the BOE wants to have her replacement in place by May 15.
BOE Chairman Randy Collier informed the board during Tuesday's special called meeting that in addition to the seven applicants previously reported, another two applications arrived after the March 12 deadline but were postmarked on time and would be considered.
Originally, TSBA Deputy Director Randall Bennett was going to meet with the BOE on Thursday to recommend the director search finalists to be interviewed.
The two new applicants are still undergoing background checks, but Collier said the TSBA was going to recommend three finalists for the BOE to interview from the original seven applicants.
Salary wasn't indicated on the first advertisement for the director position, although an applicant would easily be able to find out that Britton makes $90,250 per year.
Collier said Bennett had indicated to him that many people expressed an interest in applying until they found out the salary, which is currently fourth lowest among 20 school systems in Northeast Tennessee. It's also well below the state average of $108,820.
By a vote of 5-2, the BOE voted to advertise a salary range for $90,000 to $125,000. Collier and Vice Chair Holly Helton voted against. The new application deadline is April 2, one day before the next BOE meeting.
Leading the argument in favor of an extended application period was board member Chris Christian, who said upping the salary should increase the pool of applicants.
"I am sure that we have multiple line items in our budget that we can draft money from," Christian said.
Collier said he agrees that the director salary needs to be addressed. He said he is concerned, however, that it might cause a "snowball effect" among principals, who are paid nearly $20,000 below the state average.
Collier and Helton were in favor of interviewing the three current finalists before addressing the salary. They said if they find a qualified candidate everyone likes who will work for $90,000, hire that person. If not, then they could advertise again with a higher salary range.
Collier said the board shouldn't immediately jump into adjusting the salary until the first three finalists are interviewed. And if the overall timeline has to be adjusted, Collier said the BOE could appoint an interim director if a new director isn't hired before Britton retires.
Board member Bob Larkin said he agreed with establishing a range and negotiating a settlement somewhere in between depending on the finalists' credentials and experience.
"We should have had this discussion about money a long time ago, while we were making decisions about the timeline," board member Kathy Cradic said. "We're behind schedule now."
The three school systems that have lower director salaries than Hawkins County are Hancock County ($79,028), Rogersville ($88,260) and Johnson County ($86,667).
The top three paying director position in the region are Kingsport ($159,000), Johnson City ($147,472), and Bristol ($136,680). Sullivan County leads the eight Northeast Tennessee countywide systems ($129,654).comments powered by Disqus