Board of Education Budgets Pay Raises for Teachers and Other Staff

June 10, 2022
By: Dwayne Page

Although it’s not as large as the amount they received last year, DeKalb County teachers and support staff will be getting another pay raise with passage of the 2022-23 budget, and they have the Board of Education and Director of Schools to thank for it.

During Thursday night’s regular monthly meeting, the School Board adopted the new 2022-23 budget which includes a raise of $2,000 per teacher and other certified personnel (227 employees) and a $1,000 increase in pay for support staff (173 employees). Half of the ($2,000) increase for teachers is coming from the state and the rest ($1,000) for educators and support staff will be funded locally including plans to absorb projected increases in employee health care premiums.

Director Patrick Cripps will present the proposed spending plan for schools to the budget committee of the DeKalb County Commission next Tuesday night, June 14.

“In this budget we are requesting a $2,000 pay increase each for certified staff and $1,000 for non-certified. Some may think this is not much of a raise, but insurance (cost increases) really hit us hard this year,” said Director Cripps. “The aggregate across the board increase on insurance was 6.1% with some plans going up as much as 10%. Our people are not paid enough as it is. Some people think that teaching is an 8a.m. to 3 p.m. job and they work for nine months and that is it but what people don’t realize is that teachers put a lot of hours in including after work preparing for the next day. They put in a lot of hours in the summertime for the next year. They are required to do five days of professional development, but five days don’t touch it. There is more they have to do beyond five days. We have to continue to pay our people more. We have done very well with our budget over the years. We are setting good as far as what is in our reserves (approximately $12 million). We need to continue to increase our teacher salaries and if the state won’t do it, we need to. I am a firm believer in that,” said Director Cripps.

In other business, the school board granted tenure to the following teachers upon the recommendation of Director Cripps: Tabitha Farmer, Christian Merriman, Sarah Storey, Amy Fricks, Justin Poteete, Allison Collier, Teresa Jones, and Cristy Spears. “These teachers have successfully completed the probationary period of five years and received evaluations demonstrating an overall performance effectiveness level of above or significantly above expectations as required for tenure,” said Director Cripps.

The board voted to revise the credit requirements needed for students to graduate from DeKalb County High School.

“In the past high school students have needed 30 plus credits to graduate because the high school had been on a block schedule system. They are no longer on a total block system. Tennessee Department of Education requirements for graduation is a total of 22 credits. We are not changing anything to meet that requirement threshold, but we would like to reduce it locally down to the 22-credit state requirement instead of the 30 plus credit system we are under. We will stair step it back starting with 29 credits required with the Class of 2023 and 27 credits for the Class of 2024 and 22 credits for the incoming freshmen,” said Director Cripps.

High school lockers will soon be removed to make way for more classroom space. The board voted to sell the lockers by sealed bids as surplus property. Director Cripps said with students now using chrome books, lockers are no longer used or needed.

“The school is bursting at the seams with needed space for teachers and with the addition of the 1:1 devices at the high school students have computers in their hands and that’s what they use on a regular basis so lockers have not been used for several years now,” said Director Cripps.

The board adopted a differentiated pay plan for the 2022-23 school year as required by the state. Under the local plan two educators per school will be compensated to serve as academic coaches.

In his monthly personnel report, Director Cripps said the following employees have resigned: Cody Burton, teacher at DCHS; Danny Fish, teacher at DCHS, Charlene Hallum, educational assistant at DeKalb Middle School and Brent Simpson, teacher at DCHS.

In other business, the board voted to enter into a contract with STAR Physical Therapy to provide athletic trainer services at DeKalb County High School. The cost is $20,000 for the year beginning July 1, 2022. Athletic Trainers are responsible as health care professionals for the well-being of student-athletes. They are involved with injury prevention, assessment, and rehabilitation.

“There will only be one athletic trainer and he or she will be working high school football, basketball, and soccer games as much as possible. The athletic trainer will also float among the high school spring athletic sports. He or she will be at home games in spring sports but won’t travel to away games. In football and basketball, the trainer will be at home games and travel to away games as much as possible,” said Director Cripps.

Services provided under the contract between Star Physical Therapy and the DeKalb County School District are as follows:

STAR will make available a Board of Certification Certified Athletic Trainer that is licensed to practice in the State of Tennessee to:

1. Provide injury assessment at the school for students who request evaluation starting daily when school is in session.

2. Provide daily practice coverage involving injury prevention, assessment and rehabilitation. The Athletic Trainer will be present on campus until the last high school practice is complete or the last home school contest is complete whichever is later.

3. Coverage of all home and away varsity football games.

4. Coverage of all home contests for high school sports other than football that are held on campus as agreed to by STAR and the Athletic Director.

5. Coverage of special events and tournaments as agreed to by STAR and the Athletic Director.

6. The Athletic Trainer will be present 1-2 days per week during summer workouts or off-season workouts for high school sports. This schedule will be agreed to by STAR and the Athletic Director.

7. Work with school to maintain TSSAA health guidelines for athletic participation, physical forms, medical questionnaires, and injury records under HIPPA compliance.

8. Assist with arranging pre-participation sports physicals for high school students to meet TSSAA guidelines, and provide staffing from STAR to provide duties within the scope of their training and education.

9. Provide guidance regarding emergency procedures, including an emergency action plan specific to athletic practices and games at the schools.