The school board meeting began with Dan Liner, president of the HCEA teachers union, announcing his excitement “about this meeting more than any other board meeting” because the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was finally going to a vote. The MOU was created by a committee of 13 individuals who represent the best interest of management, employees, students, and teachers.
The MOU was later ratified with an almost unanimous approval, with the exception of Dr. Greg Martin. Dr. Martin expressed concern over Insurance Section 9 which pays 60% of health insurance for 55 year old retirees who have worked for ten years at HCDE and 100% of the health insurance for teachers that have spent 30 years in the system. Dr. Martin stated “I just have a real problem with that aspect, because any other company, such as Volkswagen, would not give you insurance after only working for ten years.”
Highlights of the MOU include teacher’s individualized planning time, stipends (pending available funding) to teachers attending professional development, a 2% increase in teachers salary, a $250 teacher bonus around Thanksgiving, and a new Fringe Benefits section that gives teachers $20 per unused sick day to attract and retain teachers upon retirement if they announce their intention to retire by February 1 of the school year.
The Ooltewah girls soccer team then pleaded the board to find the funds for a girls soccer field. Ten years ago parents threatened a Title 9 lawsuit for not providing the girls team with a soccer field, whilst all the boys teams had one. The girls team now practices in the baseball field, and one community member voiced he felt that the team was “slowly becoming the black sheep of the community.” The soccer team is now being forced to reschedule three of their home games because of the painting schedule of the field they play on. The Lady Owls closed their request stating “we are only asking for equal opportunity.”
The July 21st session closed with the board voting on three superintendent search firms to interview within the next two weeks. The search firm finalists are Coleman Lew and Associates (6 votes), McPherson Jacobson L.L.C. (6 votes), and TSBA (4 votes).