Dr. Stan Curtis, Director of Schools, ask the board to reconsider using $350,000.00 from the Fund Balance to help in retaining bus drivers. Monday, October 6, at their monthly board meeting. The school board reconsidered Dr. Curtis’ request and voted in approval of taking $350 thousand from tund balance.
Neighboring counties offer a more competitive package to their employed bus drivers. Cheatham County currently pays only an estimated $11 dollars an hour to ensure nearly 6 thousand students make it to and from school safely each day. Nearby districts offer between $13 and $18 dollars an hour to bus drivers and offer benefits to drivers who work more than thirty hours a week. At the present time, Cheatham County does not offer a benefit package to bus drivers.
Cheatham County employees 61 bus drivers to cover the routes in the district. Presently there are only 54 bus drivers employed for 61 routes causing the district to be 7 bus drivers short.
Nearly 600 students are waiting after school supervised by teachers and administrators because of the shortage of bus drivers. Due to limited drivers some students are being picked up in the mornings as early as 6:10 a.m. and not getting home until nearly two and a half hours after school dismisses.
“I can’t compete with neighboring counties without offering competitive salaries to retain drivers,” stated Curtis at the monthly school board workshop and board meeting.
Monday during the monthly meeting members voted to approve using $350 thousand from fund balance to offer competitive salary and possibly benefit incentives to help in retaining bus drivers. It will be taken to the County Commission for their approval. If approved by the Commission changes in bus drivers current pay and new hire pay could be in place by the first of the year.
Dale McCarver, former 30 year employee of Cheatham County Schools, was recommend by former Director of Schools Tim Webb to be terminated of employment in June of 2012.
McCarver was given a four day suspension, in April of 2012, for the removal of lights in the theater of Sycamore High School. The same lighting had been removed in 2001, while McCarver was teaching at SHS. He was accused of putting the safety of staff and students in jeopardy by removing emergency exit lights. Pleasant View Fire Department assisted in removing the lights helping McCarver provide a better environment for the students performing plays. Since 2001 inspections had passed that were performed by the State Fire Marshall’s Office.
Prior to McCarver’s suspension followed by termination, McCarver had articles printed in the I-24 Exchange expressing his opinion regarding Cheatham County Schools. Attorney Jennifer Noe holds firm on the opinion that former Director of Schools, Dr. Webb, had a personal vendetta against McCarver, which resulted in the termination of his position. The dismissal of McCarver’s employment with Cheatham County School’s was appealed with the administration’s decision being upheld at the appeal.
In March of 2013, McCarver filed a lawsuit in the Cheatham County Chancery Court. The court requested the Cheatham County School Board hear McCarver’s appeal and decide whether or not to uphold the previous decision.
Jennifer Noe, attorney representing McCarver, and Larry Woods, attorney representing the school board, brought the allegations and decision of termination before the school board at Monday night’s board meeting. Both attorneys were given 15 minutes to argue their side of the case before the board voted.
Upon conclusion of the informal hearing Monday night, the Cheatham County School Board voted unanimously to uphold the decision of termination of McCarver’s employment made by previous administration. McCarver will now file with Cheatham County Courts to appeal this decision.
James Gupton, newly elected board member, requested the board reschedule November and December’s monthly board meetings from Monday night to Tuesday night. Prior commitments would keep Gupton from attending the previously scheduled meetings. Workshops and board meetings were scheduled and approved prior to the beginning of the school year.
The school board voted unanimously in approval of Gupton’s request to move the meetings for the next two months. The board is suspending board policy for the next two months to accommodate Gupton’s request.
Gupton assured the school board that November and December were the only two monthly meetings posing a conflict with attendance. After the first of the year the school board’s monthly meetings will be moved back to the previous Monday night schedule.
November’s monthly board meeting would have been moved to Tuesday, November 4, to accommodate the requested change. Election Day is on November 4, 2014 causing a conflict with November’s meeting. A date has not been set for next month’s meeting as of Monday night.
Employees of the month were recognized throughout the district for their hard work and dedication at Monday’s board meeting. The public is encouraged to attend all board meetings.
Article by author published by I-24 Exchange Newspaper www.i24exchangehotspot.com