School board shows solid support for Abernathy

Friday, June 13, 2014

By Karen Hall


The six school board members who were present at Monday's meeting showed solid support for Director of Schools Jackie Abernathy by unanimously approving everything she presented to them, except the proposal to pay $400 for a one-eighth page ad in Equal Opportunity Magazine, "the career magazine for minority graduates."

"They worried me to death about it," said Abernathy. "They've been emailing me daily. I told them I would bring it to the board."

An ad in the magazine could help recruit minority teachers, she said.

"We have too many other things to spend $400 on," exclaimed board member Harvey Jones Jr. and other board members agreed with him.

They approved Abernathy's organizational chart for the next year, with the addition of just one new position, a half-time payroll clerk.

Board members also approved her proposal to change social workers from hourly pay to salary, which is in line with the practice in surrounding counties, and agreed the transportation foreman's salary could be $45,000 per year. The person selected for that job will start on July 1, in order to get everything at the bus garage ready for the start of school the first week in August.

Abernathy also asked the board's permission to fill several open positions.

"Everybody's hiring now," she said. "I would like to fill the positions before all the good candidates are gone."

Salaries for these jobs are already in the budget board members have seen, she said, and the proposal was unanimously approved.

Finally, Abernathy recognized two longtime employees who are retiring: Sherry Park, whose last position was as principal of Marshall Elementary School and Deborah Wade, who has also been a principal, but retires from the job of coordinated school health coordinator. Park was hired into the Marshall County School System in August 1974, and Wade came just six years later, in August 1980.

"They will be sorely missed," said Abernathy. "We appreciate the many years you have put in for us."

School board member Ken Lilly laughingly remembered being disciplined by Park, right there in the corridor of Central Office, in the days when it was still Jones School.