Board discusses tenure and Caryville property

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By Jennifer Caldwell

When Dr. Michael Martin, director of schools, presented a group of teachers for tenure at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting the decision seemed to be a simple.

After hearing confirmation from Martin that all teachers on the list met the tenure criteria as prescribed by law, board members were poised to vote of the matter until Board Chairman Eugene Lawson pointed out a potential problem with three of the names on the list because individuals are in coaching positions.

According to Lawson, the board had previously negotiated language into the union contract making it possible to terminate coaches from their teaching positions at the point they cease to be coaches.

“If you quit coaching you quit your job,” Lawson said of the policy which was implemented in an effort to protect the teaching positions, like physical education, that coaches often fill.

As the discussion became more confusing, Board Member Johnny Byrge suggested the discussion be tabled until more information could be obtained.

Board attorney Dail Cantrell warned the board that despite language included in the union contract they could not keep coaches from being awarded tenure if they had been in their position three or more years and met all of the necessary criteria. Cantrell went on to say depriving them the benefit of tenure was against the law.

In an effort to clear up any uncertainty about approving the list, coaches included, Martin said all those under consideration had earned the right to be tenured.

“I promise I would not have put them on this list if they hadn’t met tenure criteria,” Martin said.

Relying on the advice of counsel and the endorsement of Martin, the board approved the tenure list unanimously.

Board members also took up the issue of the old Caryville Elementary School property.

Carla Jeffers, elementary education supervisor, was called upon to bring the group up to speed on a meeting held Tuesday morning with TVA regarding the property.

According to Jeffers, the meeting did not produce positive results for the school system.

“We really don’t own a lot of property at Caryville free and clear,” Jeffers told board members.

TVA surveys show that only approximately one quarter of the baseball field is owned without restriction by the board of education. Strict stipulations are placed on the remainder of the property should it cease to be a school which will make it difficult to sell.

Jeffers said County Attorney Joe Coker advised deed modifications would be needed to remove the restrictions before the school and property can be sold.

According to Jeffers the process to achieve a clear deed to the property will be very costly and time consuming with the application fee requesting removal of the restrictions starting at $5,000.

Byrge suggested using the building as a regional police training facility might be a viable alternative for the aging building. In response to Byrge’s suggestion the board requested Martin discuss the feasibility of Byrge’s plan with Sheriff Gary Perkins.

Results from a recent performance evaluation of Martin were also presented at the meeting.

Board member Faye Heatherly explained that Martin was evaluated by each board member based on nine criteria. Each criteria had scores ranging from one to four with four being excellent.

Heatherly reported after all evaluations were tabulated Martin scored 3.4 which placed him in the excellent range.

Based on his performance during his first six months on the job, the board voted to extend Martin’s contract from three years to four years. Martin’s contract extension will not include a salary increase.