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Board green lights teacher raises; money yet to be designated

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By Jennifer Caldwell

It may have been the last meeting for four school board members, but that didn’t stop the group from carrying on with business as usual.
When an agenda item dealing with raises for all certified employees came up for discussion outgoing board member Mark A. Wells wasted no time in making a motion in favor of the action.
Dr. Michael Martin, director of schools, commended the board on their support of the measure, but requested that he be given time to come up with a funding mechanism for the raises that will cost the system somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000.
Martin reported that their were several different options to look at for funding the $500 raises including adding the expense in the upcoming budget, cutting existing items or asking the commission to raise taxes.
Despite Martin’s request for more time to put together a plan to fund the raises, Wells was determined to forge ahead with the measure.
“This is the last motion I will make as a board member and I want to make it for the teachers,” Wells said.
The raise proposal received unanimous support from the board, but board member Faye Heatherly had a comment to add as she cast her vote.
“I vote yes and I hope Dr. Martin can find the money,” Heatherly said.
The issue of pay for school nurses was also raised during the meeting.
Heatherly requested that the board hear from a spokesperson for the LPNs employed by the system concerning the discrepancy in pay between LPNs and school secretaries.
“When we provide medical services for these students our license is on the line. A secretary could not do our job.  ou (the board) could not do our job, but we could do the secretaries’ job,” Emma Nolan, school nurse, said pointing out that her position requires a license and support staff does not.
Although the board discussed the matter for a several minutes no conclusion was made about how to deal with the gap in pay.
As the meeting wound down 22-year veteran of the board Walt Goins took time to bid his colleagues farewell.
“I’ve enjoyed working with all of the board members. It has been a wonderful experience. I’m going home happy,” Goins said as he wished his successor Rector Miller good luck.
Wells was also nostalgic about his time on the board.
“I want to thank you for the good times and the adversity. I think adversity is what has moved this board forward and I hope I have brought as much to the table as I have taken away,” Wells said.
Bo Buckner said he had enjoyed his tenure, but couldn’t say he was sorry to be leaving.
Heatherly expressed some sadness with her departure.
“I’m sorry I won’t be able to continue my service to the county. It has been a wonderful journey and I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot,” said Heatherly.