Kingsport BOE gives Ailshie raise, extension

Rick Wagner • Aug 7, 2015 at 12:22 AM

KINGSPORT — City Director of Schools Lyle Ailshie is getting a raise and other benefit increases that will bring his total compensation package to just shy of $190,000 a year.

The head of the school board, who proposed the increase from his old package worth about $184,000, said that puts him in the top 5 to 10 percent of Tennessee superintendents and directors pay. It also makes him the highest paid public official working in Kingsport government.

His pay is now $174,553 a year, his car allowance $10,999.82 a year and his home office allowance $4,388.80 a year.

The Kingsport Board of Education voted 3-0 with one abstaining and one absent for the increase and to extend Ailshie’s contract to 2019, the maximum four years ahead allowed by state law.

The increases are retroactive to July 1.

“I’m honored to be here in Kingpsort,” Ailshie said, thanking the board for what he called a vote of confidence.

“I get to work for some of the most awesome people you could pick,” Ailshie said. “I don’t think you have to worry about me running off anywhere.”

As of July 2014, his annual base pay, vehicle allowance and home office allowance was a total of $184,074.92. The base pay raise then pushed Ailshie’s annual pay from $159,000 to $161,385 retroactive to March 5, 2014, and then to $167,840 effective July 1, 2014, not counting other allowances and benefits.

BOE member Todd Golden abstained on the recommendation by BOE President Carrie Upshaw, while member Eric Hyche was absent.

Golden asked where the proposed new contract originated, and Upshaw responded that she came up with it and that Ailshie was amenable to it.

Golden prefaced his question by telling Ailshie he recognized discussing compensation in a public forum was difficult and left immediately after the board meeting.

Upshaw, Vice President Susan Lodal and the board’s newest member, Karen Reed-Wright, voted for the increase.

“I have been pleased with his work here, his leadership,” Lodal said, adding that he oversees about 1,200 employees and is one of 10 picked to serve on a Tennessee panel to choose new standards for schools statewide.

“His expertise is recognized across the state,” Lodal said.

Upshaw said the increase is based on accomplishments and performance of the school system and that Ailshie’s contract hadn’t been altered by the board since 2013. She said she doesn’t want Ailshie leaving Kingsport for another system.

“I know you’ve been approached by at least one” other system, Upshaw said. “I doubt we could find anyone who would do a better job.”

She said the consultant who helped do the search that landed Ailshie in 2012, Wayne Qualls, told her Ailshie was in the top 5 to 10 percent in years of experience among Tennessee directors and superintendents and that Kingsport was in that range in the quality of school systems statewide.

Among three pages of accomplishments achieved under Ailshie’s guidance were winning the SCORE Prize from the State Collaborative on Reforming Education and becoming a Level 3 entity in the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence, making it the only school system to make it that far in TCPE rankings.

Upshaw said among systems in the region and others against which KCS benchmarks itself, Ailshie is the leader in years of service as a superintendent or director with 16 years, including three with KCS and the rest with Greeneville.

Hamblen County’s director has 14 years, compared to 10 for Richard Bales in Washington County, six years for Gary Lilly in Bristol, seven years for Knox County’s director, five for Oak Ridge and two for Maryville.

The Sullivan County school board Monday made Interim Director Evelyn Rafalowski permanent director and offered her a four-year contract worth almost $125,000 plus a car allowance.

She has 38 years in the school system and has been in central office for 16 years.

Upshaw said reviews by the school board and employees in the school system indicate Ailshie sticks to guiding tenets for the system when leading and making decisions to improve the school system.

She also said he helped make the transformation from a central office to the Administrative Support Center.

After this year’s increases, the new contract puts Ailshie’s future increases in pay, home office allowance and vehicle allowance all based on a 2 percent increase per year plus a cost-of-living increase that is usually 1 percent.

However, this year included a 3 percent increase, which Upshaw said recognized accomplishments of the district over the past two years.

“Anyone would like to get that evaluation,” Reed-Wright said. He got mostly ratings of “job standard met” or, in many cases, “job standard exceeded” from board members.

As for employees, in the summary presented by City Attorney Mike Bllingsley, Ailshie got ratings of only 5.88 percent dissatisfied or very dissatisfied except for 11.03 percent in those two responses for “level of support for employees’ and “care for employees.”

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