Raise approved for David Huss

Raise approved for David Huss
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
Obion County Director of Schools David Huss has been granted a pay raise of roughly 5 percent.
After much debate, the Obion County School Board voted 5-2 Monday night to raise Huss’ salary to $110,000 — an increase from his current salary of $104,700 per year.
The board did not give Huss a contract extension this year, something which has been granted consistently in past years instead of a pay increase.
Action on Huss’ contract was tabled at last month’s school board meeting as board members continued to consider options and what would be feasible with the current economy.
As part of the director’s employment contract, upon receipt of a satisfactory annual evaluation, the school board may grant a pay raise and/or a contract extension. Huss received a favorable evaluation of 79.92 percent this year.
In past years, with the economy considered, Huss has consistently received contract extensions rather than pay increases.
Obion County School Board chairman Brian Rainey told board members last month it had been five years since Huss received a pay increase and he said the system had fallen behind in pay in comparison to other systems of comparable size. He also emphasized Huss is doing two jobs — the director of schools position, as well as finances and budgets, which was previously handled by a budget director.
Monday night, with all seven board members in attendance, the school board resumed discussion of Huss’ contract during its monthly session at Lake Road Elementary School.
“I, personally, think we have a good director. Our school system, as a whole, is going in the right direction, and I’d very much like to keep Mr. Huss as long as he is willing to stay with us,” Rainey said.
He then asked each board member for their input.
Vice chairman Diane Sanderson said people on the outside don’t realize Huss is doing two jobs — both director of schools and budget director — and she noted he has a good working relationship with county commissioners.
“He’s doing a good job,” she said.
Board member David Lamb simply told Rainey he was ready to make a motion on the matter, while board member Scott Northam said he didn’t have any comment at that time.
Board member Tim Partin said the board’s continued discussion of Huss’ contract has nothing to do with his not being a good director, but rather how much money is available for a pay increase at this time.
“It has nothing to do with not being a good superintendent, it’s just a difference in how much we can (fiscally) do at one time for a raise,” Partin said. “The last thing I want to do is start looking for a superintendent, but we also have to keep in mind what’s best for our system, and that’s been my stance from Day 1.”
Board member Fritz Fussell agreed and said some difficult funding decisions are ahead.
“I think Mr. Huss does a good job, has done a good job,” Fussell said. “It is a tough job to do both (director and budgeting) and make sure the budget’s in place, and it’s probably going to be a tougher job in the future.
“I was kind of disappointed to hear that Mr. Huss felt like some of us did not want him or maybe thought it was time for him to go. I know, personally, I think he’s doing a good job and I do not want to look for another director, but I also understand that the economic times that the county’s in is a situation we’ve got to take seriously. With that said, there’s tough decisions to make, even here tonight, on what to do. Again, I think Mr. Huss does a fine job.”
Board member Willis Easley said he’d like to see the school system retain Huss as long as possible, adding, “I think he does a real good job.”
Easley said everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and he said he’d like to see the board meet Huss halfway on salary. He said the first figure mentioned was $130,000 — “quite an increase” — and Easley said he had suggested  meeting halfway at $118,500 in earlier talks.
“Any raise we give him, I know there are some people in the county that aren’t going to be happy, but we’ve got to get past that,” Rainey said. “This is our job to look at the future for the Obion County School System and I think he’s done a remarkable job since he’s been here …”
Lamb made a motion to give Huss a 3 percent increase and it was seconded by Northam. However, Rainey made an amendment to the motion — saying “that’s nowhere near enough” — to come up to $115,000 for a raise of basically $10,000. His amendment was seconded by Ms. Sanderson.
Rainey’s amendment failed by a vote of 4-3, with Fussell, Lamb, Northam and Partin voting against it.
Lamb’s motion for a 3 percent raise equated to an increase of just over $3,000, but Rainey persisted in explaining Huss had not received a raise in five years. Lamb countered it was Huss’ fault from seeking contract extensions each year, but Rainey said the board could have given a raise at any time.
Rainey said when Huss’ original contract was negotiated, it included a 5 percent annual raise, but Huss told the board to take it out because it was too much money.
Fussell said the board hurt itself in past years by giving contract extensions, with the salary falling behind as a result.
“And we’re five years behind probably where we should be,” he said. “But I don’t think the condition we’re in we can make that up very quickly.”
Partin concurred, saying the board cannot do a significant pay increase all at once.
Partin made the motion to amend Lamb’s original motion to the $110,000 amount and it was seconded by Ms. Sanderson.
Fussell asked if Huss had any comment, adding he has a staff which respects him, evidenced by the number in attendance Monday night. He said Huss understands the board’s situation and he (Fussell) also understands Huss needs to do what is best for his family.
“I want to keep him as bad as anybody else. I think he’s done a good job, but, again, we’ve got to look at what we’ve got to work with and go from there, and I don’t think we can do everything in one year,” Fussell said. “We’ve kind of dug ourselves our own hole, I guess you’d say.”
Huss said only that he felt compelled at last week’s orientation meeting to ensure the board was adequately informed about next year’s budget, adding he has never held anything back.
“So, whatever the will of the board, I can live with it,” Huss said.
Partin said there may be a misconception regarding how the board feels about Huss.
“Just because we differ on money terms does not mean we’re anti-Huss,” he said, reiterating he believes Huss is doing a fine job, but the board cannot make up a salary increase all at once.
“Don’t take that as being anti-Huss, because it’s not meant that way. And I don’t think anybody on this board feels that way,” Partin added.
The board then voted 5-2 to approve Partin’s motion to amend Lamb’s original motion and increase Huss’ salary to $110,000 per year. Partin, Fussell, Northam, Ms. Sanderson and Rainey voted in favor, while Lamb and Easley cast the dissenting votes.
There was no mention of a contract extension for Huss, whose current contract runs through June 30, 2016. He has been Obion County’s director of schools since mid-2006.
Other action
In other action during Monday night’s near hour-long meeting, opened with prayer led by Lamb, the school board:
• Voted 5-2 to stop the Reading Recovery program and instead implement an alternative, and less costly, reading intervention program for the lower grades.
Fussell made a motion seeking to table the decision until the board receives plans for an alternative reading intervention program, but it was defeated.
The board asked preK-3 supervisor of instruction Vikki Stevenson to provide plans for an alternative reading intervention program at next month’s board meeting.
• Recognized administrative/principal assignments for the 2013-14 school year.
The administrative assignments include Dale Hollowell, assistant director of schools/student support services; Nancy Hamilton, assistant director of schools/teaching and learning (includes responsibilities for grades 9-12 supervisor of instruction; Lesa Scillion, grades 4-8 supervisor of instruction/Title director; Vikki Stevenson, grades preK-3 supervisor of instruction; Mary Lynn Dodson, supervisor of special education/Coordinated School Health; Cynthia Rainey, supervisor of alternative education/attendance; Chastity Homra, Coordinated School Health; Judy Denman, supervisor of child nutrition; Tommy Victory, supervisor of non-instructional support services; Tim Maynard, supervisor of pupil transportation; Phil Graham, supervisor of maintenance; Jason Kendall, technology coordinator; and Linda Carney, director of finance.
The principal and assistant principal assignments include Dennis Buckelew, Black Oak principal, and Mary Coleman, BO assistant principal; Patresa Rogers, Hillcrest principal, and Travis Johnson, HC assistant principal; Sheila Stone, Lake Road principal, and Adam Stephens, LR assistant principal; Linda Crigger, OCCHS principal, and Craig Rogers, Greg Barclay and Russ Davis, OCCHS assistant principals, with Davis over career and technical education; Elise Braswell, Ridgemont principal, and Jon Kerr, Ridgemont assistant principal; Don Capps, South Fulton Elementary principal, and Laura Pitts, SFES assistant principal; and Keith Frazier, South Fulton Middle/High School principal, and Dana Craddock, SFM/HS assistant principal.
• Approved a consent agenda that included the monthly personnel, substitute teachers and financial reports.
The personnel report listed the resignations of OCCHS vocational teacher Coby Watts (effective end of the 2012-13 school year), central office payroll clerk Julie Parker, speech teacher Denise Wright (effective end of the 2012-13 school year) and OCCHS teacher Neal Cruce (effective end of the 2012-13 school year); a leave of absence for teacher Michelle Johnston; and the retirements of Lake Road teacher Pauline Cole, Hillcrest teacher Cheryl Cleek, Hillcrest principal Melinda McCullough, South Fulton Middle/High School teachers Jean Clark and Kenneth Jackson, SFM/HS custodian Johnny Sams, Lake Road maintenance employee Mel Carty, Hillcrest maintenance employee Fred Oslund and Hillcrest special education teacher Bonita Burpo.
All of the retirements are effective at the end of the 2012-13 school year, with the exception of Mrs. McCullough and Carty, whose retirements are effective June 30; and Oslund, whose retirement is effective May 30.
Substitute teachers added to the list this month were Cierra Miller, Kimberly Jackson, Leanna Fox, Betty Pannell, Jeriann Webster, Ginger Perry and Rusty Gibson.
• Approved an amendment to the General Purpose School Fund budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
• Reappointed Fussell to the Athletic Advisory Committee.
• Approved on first reading an amendment to board policy regarding class ranking.
• Recognized the South Fulton High School Beta Club for accomplishments at recent state convention.
• Was reminded this is Teacher Appreciation Week and expressed appreciation to the system’s teachers.
• Approved overnight student trips for SFM/HS’s Beta Club and SkillsUSA.
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Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.7.13

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