BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Board of Education will consider on Thursday four options to address the costs of the system's retirement loyalty bonus program.
The board will also consider:
* approving "career pathways" developed by a joint committee of the Greene County and Greeneville school systems and local industry;
* approving policy revisions, including those for procedures related to school intruders;
* approving changes to the board's committee structure; and,
* approving a "resolution of confidence in [the] Director of Schools."
The board will meet at 5 p.m., Thursday, in the board room of the James W. Parham Central Office Building.
The board will hold a workshop to discuss agenda items at 4 p.m.
In reviewing the system's retirement bonus program, the board will consider four options:
* no change;
* discontinuing the bonus program after five years;
* decreasing the bonus from 35 percent of the retiree's salary at retirement to 30 percent for those not qualifying within the next five years, and to 25 percent for those not qualifying within the next 15 years; and,
* decreasing the percentages as above but only providing the bonus within a three-year window of the time of retirement.
There will be no change to the program for anyone qualifying within the next five years, according to these options.
In order to qualify for the bonuses, teachers must have spent at least 20 years with the Greene County School System and must either have 30 years' total experience or have reached 60 years of age or older.
Retirees may also continue under the system's insurance program until they are eligible for Medicare.
Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk first brought the matter before the board because the current program lacks stability in that, if all the teachers who currently qualify for retirement should decide to do so in one year under the existing retirement bonus program, the school system could not afford the expense.
Kirk requested that the board revise the program in a manner that would result in a stable annual cost and an eventual reserve that would guarantee the system's ability to actually pay the promised bonus.
There are five "career pathways" that the board will consider on Thursday, including:
* health and science;
* business and finance, and,
* educational and professional services.
The pathways were developed by a joint committee of the Greeneville and Greene County school systems.
They are designed to restructure some curriculum so that students will choose a career pathway and take courses that will benefit that selection.
Wayland Seaton, High School Supervisor for the county school system, who has overseen much of the production of these pathways, has explained that they all contain college options.
He has said that the pathways also depict how students can "get off" the path into a job out of high school, or after achieving technical training or an associate's degree.
Combined, the career pathways will encompass about 95 percent of the job market in Greene County, Seaton said.
The pathways were developed based on five-year projections about local jobs that were made by the Greene County Partnership.
Among the policy revisions to be heard on Thursday will be the following on second reading:
* making it policy to meet at 4:30 p.m. on months when the joint city/county school board meets;
* making it policy to retain e-rate records for five years after the date of service, which County Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk said places in writing practices already in place for audits;
* maintaining a competitive bid process while using the Universal Service Fund (e-rate) for locating service-providers; and,
* updating language related to federal job titles in the system's non-discrimination policy.
On first reading, the board will also consider TSBA recommended changes, including:
* changes implementing at least one "armed intruder" drill per school year to the Emergency Preparedness Plan;
* title changes and changes to reflect state and federal laws in the In-Service and Professional Learning Opportunities policy; and,
* changes to reflect the new state law related to when a child must turn five years old to be enrolled in Kindergarten in the Compulsary Attendance Ages policy.
Other policy changes for consideration during the meeting will include consideration of revisions or new forms for the following: Public Records Request, Pre-Approved Field Trips, Request for Student Record Correction, Medication at School, Permission for Medication, and Chronic Head Lice Letter.
The committee proposal scheduled for board consideration includes only four "standing committees" -- policy, bid, curriculum, and long-range planning -- on each of which three board members will serve.
Previously all committees acted as standing committees but rarely met.
Under the proposed policy, other committees, such as the building, safe schools and insurance committees, would be developed as needed and disbanded after work is completed.
Board Chairman Roger Jones would appoint members to the committees, but all board members would be invited to attend any meetings.
Board members would also continue to attend certain administrative committees.
'CONFIDENCE IN DIRECTOR'
Jones also will present for consideration on Thursday a resolution calling for the board to state their confidence in the ability of Director of Schools Dr. Kirk to "carry out all administrative duties assigned to her by the Greene County Board of Education as as set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated and commensurate Board Policy."
The resolution cites Kirk's positive performance reviews for the past two years and the fact that the system is "making progress toward meeting the goals that have been established."
In other business, the board will consider:
* approving a pilot program for a school-based clinic;
* a new concession stand at West Greene High School, funded by the WGHS Booster Club;
* approving bids on AEDs and buses;
* approving a boys soccer co-op between Chuckey-Doak High School and Greeneville High School;
* approving volunteer coaches for West Pines Elementary and C-DHS;
* approving out-of-state field trip requests;
* approving disposal of buses #29, #50, and mini-bus #013;
* approving a South Greene High School boys basketball team trip to a Thanksgiving Tournament in the Bahamas;
* approving the Baileyton Elementary Association's hosting an elementary/middle school softball tournament;
* approving a budget amendment for Title programs; and,
* approving alumni football at CDHS.