On Monday night, the Campbell County Board of Education approved an incentive program for some teachers, that are eligible, to take early retirement.  The board hopes the retirements will help offset a shortfall in the upcoming school year budget.CLICK HERE to see details and print a copy of the Certified Employee Retiree Medical Insurance Incentive Program.  Crystal Creekmore, chairman of the school board, said teachers can call the central office, 423.562.8377, if they have questions.  The deadline for this school year is June 1, 2019, though the incentive runs through the 2019-2020 school year, according to Creekmore.

You can see Monday’s meeting HERE on demand.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 05/16/2019-6AM)

Below is the story from Monday night’s Board of Education meeting:

School board approves early retirement insurance incentive

At the end of a long meeting, the Campbell County Board of Education voted 7-2 to approve a program it hopes will offer an incentive for some teachers to take early retirement. The board hopes  the retirements would help alleviate the estimated $1.8 million shortfall in the upcoming school year budget.

The program, labeled the Certified Employee Retirement Medical Insurance Initiative, would enable retired teachers to retain full medical insurance longer after retirement.

Not every board member was in favor of the changes. Johnny Byrge challenged the proposal, asking, “Are we going to put the budget shortfall on the backs of teachers?”

Director f schools Jennifer Fields and  finance director Jeff Marlow both endorsed the plan, Marlow pointing out that the number of teaching positions that the county currently supports cannot be maintained in the face of state cutbacks in BEP funding.

“We’re talking 27 positions, if some voluntarily retire, anything will help balance the budget,” Marlow pointed out.

“At the end of the day, my concern is the pupil to teacher ratio,” Byrge argued, claiming that one math class at Campbell County High already has 35 students for one teacher. Fields said in some of the smaller schools, one class has only five students while another has eleven.

Board member Faye Heatherly made the motion to approve the plan, covering teachers over 65 with 20 years of experience, while a second motion covered younger teachers. Both plans were approved 7-2 with Byrge and Jeffery Miller both voting “no.”

This discussion played out in front of a nearly empty courtroom, but less than two hours earlier, the room had been packed to overflowing with parents and students, all present to recognize the winners of the grades 3-5 reading competition. Student winners from all county elementary schools were introduced and presented for photographs. The students were then invited to pose for a group photo outside the courthouse, with the room quickly emptying out.

Meanwhile, the board went into an executive session that lasted over 40 minutes, with everyone except board attorney Dail Cantrell, Fields and Marlow asked to vacate the room. The discussion involved a lawsuit and another pending lawsuit, but no details were offered to the public or media when the board reconvened the meeting.

The board then approved a list of bids, most of them covering a variety of supplies and projects for the upcoming year. Four bids were approved for the sale of some surplus equipment and two surplus vehicles no longer needed by the school system.

The board also unanimously approved tenure for a list of twelve teachers who have completed five years of teaching and been approved by a review panel.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 05/14/2019-6AM)