School Calendar for 2019-20 Includes Shorter Fall Break, Longer Thanksgiving Holiday

March 9, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

DeKalb County students and teachers will have a two week fall break in October, 2018 but the following year the school calendar will return to a one week fall break in October, 2019 with a full week off for Thanksgiving in November, 2019.

The Board of Education Thursday night adopted the school calendar for the 2019-20 school year. The 2018-19 school calendar with the two week fall break was approved last year.

2018-2019 School Calendar

2019-2020 School Calendar

Up until this school year, students and teachers enjoyed a two week fall break with three days off for the Thanksgiving holiday. This past fall, the calendar was changed to provide for only one week for fall break and a full week off for Thanksgiving.

During Thursday night’s meeting, the school board voted 5-2 for the shorter fall break and longer Thanksgiving holiday for the 2019-20 year.

Members Jerry Wayne Johnson and Jim Beshearse voted no. Beshearse said his decision was based on a survey which showed a majority of teachers and school staff wanted a two week fall break . The total vote in that survey was 130 to 112. A recent WJLE on-line poll survey showed 615 respondents (62%) favored a one week fall break and a full week for Thanksgiving while 382 respondents (38%) wanted a two week fall break.

Meanwhile in his monthly report on personnel, Director Patrick Cripps informed the board that Margaret Curtis has been hired as cook at DeKalb West School and Josh Isaac Melton has resigned as educational assistant at DeKalb Middle School.

The Smithville Women’s Club will have to look elsewhere to have their Spring Blossom Pageant in April.

The board of education rejected a request for the club to have the pageant in the Northside Elementary School gym beginning this year and every year hereafter
The board did not want to give approval for this year and all future pageants and is asking the club to revise and re-submit its request.

Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III also read a letter from Cheryl Whitfield, a cousin of the late Rosa Stokes, thanking DCHS on behalf of Rosa’s family for honoring her in a basketball number retirement ceremony in January. “We are so happy to know that Rosa’s name and number will forever hang in the gym where she got the start to have a great basketball career. She loved DeKalb County and so do we. God bless you and continue to honor past players. This truly makes families feel special”.

Opioid Addiction and Prescribing Conference to be Held

March 8, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

The DeKalb and Smith County Drug Prevention Coalitions are partnering with East Tennessee State University and the Tennessee Department of Health to educate health care professionals and others about proper prescribing practices to curb the spread of opioid abuse.

The Opioid Addiction and Prescribing Conference, to be held at the DeKalb County Community Center at 712 South Congress Boulevard in Smithville, will be held on Tuesday, March 20 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. A dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Mitchell Mutter of Chattanooga, Medical Director of Special Projects for the Tennessee Department of Health.

The program is open to all levels of health care professionals including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, dentists and others interested in solutions.

Attendees will learn about prescription opioid misuse and abuse trends, risk management tools, new laws and regulations effecting pain management specialists, current prescription related trends, the Tennessee Controlled Substance Monitoring Database, Chronic Pain Guidelines, and identifying strategies to incorporate evidence based best practice standards for safe opioid prescribing practices into team-based care.

The registration fee for the event is $50 for health care professionals and $15 for all others.

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Director of Schools Given Contract Extension and Pay Raise

March 9, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

Based on overall high marks given by the Board of Education in a recent performance evaluation, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps has been awarded a one year contract extension and given a $5,000 pay raise, effective July 1, 2018.

During Thursday night’s regular monthly meeting, the Board voted 6-0-1 to grant the extension and pay raise. Those voting in favor were Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III and members Kate Miller, Doug Stephens, Danny Parkerson, Shaun Tubbs, and Jim Beshearse. Jerry Wayne Johnson passed.

With the $5,000 pay raise, Cripps will earn $90,000 per year paid in twelve equal monthly installments in accordance with the policy.

Cripps’ contract was to run through June 30, 2019, but with the one year extension, he will now serve as Director at least through June 30, 2020. Cripps has been Director since July, 2015. His original contract in 2015 was for two years to expire on June 30, 2017 but the Board voted in June, 2016 to extend the contract by two years based on overall high marks given by the Board in a director performance evaluation.

Cripps was recently evaluated again by the Board and given overall good marks.

During a work session prior to the meeting Thursday night, Board Chairman Evins said he preferred giving Cripps a two year extension but wanted the board to be unified on a decision. “No one can meet every goal but I think he (Cripps) has done as well as we could expect out of anyone in his position,” he said.

“My thought process is first and foremost is the Director doing a good job. That is the first thing to consider as far as I am concerned. I think he is and our evaluation indicates that. There are areas of improvement like there is with everybody. I am alright with either a one or two year (extension). I would prefer a two year (extension) but I would also like the board to be unified and agree and in good conscience go forward,” said Stephens.

During the work session, Tubbs recommended the board approving a one year extension with the $5,000 pay raise.”I think we need to look at putting in writing benchmarks of certain things that we as a board want to see accomplished,” he said.

“I think we need to identify some things (benchmarks) so that he (Cripps) knows exactly what the board is looking for to assimilate,” added Parkerson.

Director Cripps said during the workshop that he appreciates the opportunity to serve as Director and wants to continue to receive the full support of the school board. “Career wise, this has been the best three years of my career. I love my job but I do not want to be a stumbling block for this school system. I don’t want to be a hindrance. If we can’t all be going in the same direction and on the same page and if I don’t have your support, I don’t want the job because it cannot be accomplished without you backing me,” said Cripps.

Results of the Board of Education’s annual performance evaluation of Director Cripps in February show he is meeting “most” expectations of the board.

Cripps’ overall average score is 4.23 out of a possible 6 score.

In accordance with state law, the school board is required to develop and implement an evaluation plan to be used annually for the director of schools. Board members used a four page evaluation form to rate Director Cripps (1-5) in each of 60 areas from eight categories including on his relationship with the Board, the Community, Staff and Personnel, Educational Leadership, Business and Finance, Personal Qualities, Strategic Planning Skills, and Tennessee Specific questions.

A rating of “1” meant his performance was “Consistently Below Expectations”. A “5” rating signified that Cripps “Met All Expectations”. A rating with an asterisk (*) symbol or 6 meant he “Exceeded Expectations”.

Other ratings were:
“2”-Meets Few Expectations
“3”-Meets Some Expectations
“4”-Meets Most Expectations

Each board member scored Cripps in all areas from the categories on the form. The scores were then averaged to arrive at the grand total score. The forms were then sent to officials of the Tennessee School Boards Association where the scores were tabulated and averaged.

The Director’s strengths, based on the overall report, were his personal qualities and board relationship. Weaknesses were in strategic planning skills and community relationships.

A breakdown of the scores given to Cripps in the eight areas of evaluation were:

Performance Goal Average
Board Relationship

Community Relationships

Staff and Personnel Relationships

Educational Leadership

Business and Finance

Personal Qualities

Strategic Planning Skills

Tennessee Specific Questions

Grand Total

All other terms of Cripps’ contract remain unchanged from the original agreement in 2015.

Under the contract, the Board will provide a medical insurance plan for Cripps on the same terms that it is made available to other employees. The Director will be able to participate in any other insurance program offered by the Board on the same terms as any other employee of the Board.

Cripps will also be provided with an automobile and all expenses involved in said automobile for him to carry out his official duties. He may use the automobile for personal purposes not interfering with school purposes, provided he shall pay or reimburse the cost of all fuel during such use.

The Director’s year shall consist of 240 duty days of normal office hours. Vacation time should be avoided at the beginning and end of the school year. The Director serves and is on duty during regular school session. Non duty days include 10 holidays and 12 annual leave days.

Cripps shall be granted one day of sick leave for each month of contractual employment. Sick leave days shall be cumulative and unused sick leave days may be used for retirement credit in accordance with the policies of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System.

The evaluation of the Director shall occur no later than March 31 each calendar year during the term of the contract. The board shall review with the Director his performance, progress toward established goals, and the working relationships between the Director and Board, the staff, students, and community at large; and any other matters relative to the employment of the Director.

As part of the evaluation process, by July 30 of each year, the Director will present a Strategic Plan to the Board for the upcoming school year. The plan will incorporate the results of the Director’s most recent evaluation, will identify the strengths and needs of DeKalb County Schools, and will describe the Director’s Plan of Action to reach the goals adopted by the Board.

The contract may be terminated by mutual agreement of the parties or due to the retirement, disability, or death of the director. It may also be terminated by the Board for cause pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth in TCA, the Teacher’s Tenure Act. If the Board terminates the contract for cause, the Director would be entitled to no further benefits of compensation.

The Board reserves the right to transfer the Director to any position within the system; however compensation and insurance benefits included in this agreement shall remain in full force and effect for the duration of the contract as specified in Article 1. In the event the Director declines to accept the transfer, this contract shall be terminated and the Director would be entitled to no further benefits or compensation.

The Director retains any rights to tenure as a teacher that he has already acquired in the DeKalb County Schools. Even so, the Director understands and agrees that, upon the termination of his duties as Director, he will be placed in a position for which he is licensed and qualified by the Board or any subsequent director of schools. No rights to a particular position are retained by seniority or any other means, and the Board or any subsequent director of schools, as appropriate, has the sole right to determine placement. However after placement, he will return to the pay scale prior to his appointment as Director.

The Director will not hire immediate family members in new administrative roles. Prior job assignments are grandfathered.

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