The school board agreed this week to pay their interim director of schools more than the former director.
A draft of the contract for interim director Roy Dukes was presented to the board at their Tuesday meeting. In the draft his salary was $98,000 per year.
"This number is way too low for his years of experience," exclaimed board member Ann Tears. "I would like to see $106,000 to $108,000."
"It's a tremendous amount of work," said board member Craig Michael. "He should get nothing less than $108,000" (the amount that former director Stan Curtis was paid).
Chairman Mike Keny suggested $110,000 per year, and the board agreed.
The board's attorney Chuck Cagle specified that the contract was for a year, or until the new director begins, at which time Dukes would go back to his position of assistant director.
"The contract should state the intent that he resume the assistant position," Cagle said.
The attorney also pointed out that the contract could be renewed for another year if necessary.
Dukes is already driving a school system car, and the board agreed that he could continue doing this. If he wants to use his own car for a trip, he can claim the state mileage allowance.
Dukes took the Board through Marshall County's "Report Card" from the Tennessee Department of Education. As reported in the Tribune on Nov. 6, the county is in "good standing" with only Marshall County High School on the "Target" list because of its graduation rate.
"What we all want to do is get them all to graduate," Dukes said.
"If we know why they drop out, we can work to prevent it," Tears added.
"We really need a full-time attendance person," Dukes said.
"Most systems have a full-time person," said Cagle in answer to a question from board member Curt Denton about what was normal across the state.
"Is it a concern that our ACT scores have declined three years in a row?" asked Michael.
"Yes, it's always a concern," Dukes replied.
"So what's your game plan?" Michael inquired. "We have to find some way to be proactive or we won't see a reversal of the trend."
"Start with the 8th graders and find the areas they need help in," Dukes said, referring to preparation for the ACT test that is now a requirement for all high school juniors. In elementary schools, he said they would be looking at the curriculum and doing interventions.
"The elementary curriculum has had the most dramatic changes in the past three years," said Michael. "What message have you given the principals?"
Dukes replied that he had told the principals they were running their schools, though they have to follow the state curriculum and provide interventions.
"The principals have the option to change things to make it work?" asked Tears.
"Yes," Dukes assured the board.
"It's good to hear the principals are in charge," Michael said.
"The school will take on the personality of the principal," said Dukes, concluding this portion of the board meeting.