Displaced workers subject of education committee

Friday, July 10, 2009

The education committee heard a presentation from the career center's assistant director about the services available to the displaced workers in Marshall County at their meeting Wednesday.

Chairman Larry McKnight wanted his committee members to know what the County employees whose contracts have not been renewed by the board of education could do about finding another job.

Director of schools Stan Curtis denied that these former employees were "displaced workers."

"I requested a list of the names," said McKnight. "I would have appreciated a response to that e-mail. No response is not acceptable. I'm not happy!"

Curtis gave no apology for not responding to McKnight, though he did say the names of the non-renewed employees "have been sent to the career center."

"Time are challenging, but we're putting people to work every day," the career center's Elaine Newcomb said in her presentation. Marshall County's unemployment rate stands at 15.7 percent, according to McKnight.

"Whatever it takes to get someone from where they are to back to work is what we'll do," said Newcomb.

"You all do a great job," McKnight said. He will request the newly created employee benefits committee to put together a policy "so when any county employee is displaced we give them proper assistance."

Discussion moved on to the question of who pays and how much for the four school resource officers. These are the police officers that patrol the three high schools and Lewisburg Middle School, and details of the current pay arrangements are outlined in today's article on the city council's meeting.

"No question we need four SROs," said McKnight.

"The city is asking for 50 percent (of the LMS SRO's salary)," explained Lewisburg city manager Eddie Fuller. "For five or six years we've just accepted what you've given us."

"We voted to send the agreement to the school board," added councilman Ron McRady.

"One of my concerns is a contract with no cap," McKnight said. "This is a school board decision, but it affects us with the budget."

"The proposed contract needs close scrutiny," school board member Craig Michael said. "I would not sign it without letting a lawyer look at it."

A lively discussion continued, with contributions from other County commissioners and officials who attended the meeting.

"In fairness to County employees, I'd like to see the salaries commensurate," commission chairwoman Mary Ann Neill said.

"Yes," said Sheriff's Department Captain Norman Dalton. "Our SROs should get equal pay."

"Same job - same pay," commissioner Wilford "Spider" Wentzel agreed. "To heck with this 'gentleman's agreement.'"

"We need to create an equitable situation for all parties concerned," said education committee member Billy Spivey. "It's imperative to be consistent."

Spivey's motion asking all parties to visit and consider the SRO issue in an equitable manner passed unanimously.