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News Board of Education begins process of rehiring teachers

Wednesday afternoon employees with the Macon County School System gathered at the central office to bid Interim Superintendent Dr. Jim Duncan farewell. Dr. Duncan assumed the role of superintendent a year ago after Dan Brigman announced he would be leaving Macon County. In appreciation of Dr. Duncan's guidance in leading the district through difficult financial times, Board Chairman Jim Breedlove (right) presented Dr. Duncan and his wife Sandra with a plaque. Photo by Brittney ParkerAfter being forced to notify dozens of teachers that their jobs were not guaranteed in the 2013-14 school year because of a lack of funding, after a closed session during their June meeting, the Macon County Board of Education voted to begin the process of hiring those positions that are essential to the education process.

The Board of Education was originally granted $7.1 million from county commissioners for the 2013-14 school year. Because of budget cuts to public education on both the state and federal levels, Macon County was compelled to inform 31 first year teachers that their jobs would not be available next year. In addition to the teachers who were laid off, 11 positions that were held by interim and probationary teachers, will be absorbed completely.

In an attempt to keep staffing as close to the current level as possible, before approving the final budget for the county, commissioners increased the $7.1 million allocation to the school system by $220,000 in order to hire back some of the 31 teachers that were laid off earlier this month.

During the closed session Monday night, as one of his last duties as interim superintendent, Dr. Jim Duncan directed the board in a vote to rehire those teachers.

Barry Woody will assume his duties as the principal of Franklin High School beginning July 1."We authorized the advertisement of all of the available positions in the school system that have become vacant through resignations, retirements and the probationary teacher positions that were laid off,” said Dr. Duncan. “While not all of those positions will be able to be filled because of the continued uncertainty of funding from the state, the majority of the teachers who were laid off, will have the opportunity to reapply and those positions will be filled.”

The Board of Education also submitted a formal letter to county commissioners requesting permission for flexibility in the use of $430,000 earmarked for a two percent teacher supplement during the 2013-14 school year if funding obligations call for it.

Board of Education members received permission from county commissioners to use the board's discretion in redirecting the $430,000 to other financial needs, if needed next year.

"We don't plan to use those funds for anything other than the supplement at this point, but just wanted the flexibility to do so if needed next year," explained Dr. Duncan.

According to Duncan, the school system may be better off financially starting out next year due to a decrease in kindergarten enrollment.

In other news

The June meeting of the Macon County Board of Education marked the last meeting that would be directed by interim superintendent Dr. Jim Duncan, who was hired last year to fill the vacancy left by Dan Brigman's resignation. After a year with Macon County, Duncan will be officially replaced by Dr. Chris Baldwin, Franklin High School's current principal, beginning July 1.

"When we started this process, I am not going to lie, we were a little nervous," said Board Chairman Jim Breedlove. "But after being given Dr. Duncan's name and interviewing him, I think it is safe to say that the board felt confident in our choice to hire him. He has done an excellent job leading this board through an extremely tough transition process. We are so fortunate to have had him to guide us through the last year and the financial troubles we were faced with."

"I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend my 44th year in public education with Macon County," said Dr. Duncan. "Sandra and I have lived in Macon County for going on six years now and I have enjoyed being able to see the county from this point of view and being able to do whatever I can to help the education system in Macon County. This board and the leadership you have in Dr. Chris Baldwin really do have the best interests of the students in mind while moving the district forward."

When Baldwin was hired as the school system's superintendent, Franklin High School's vice principal Barry Woody was hired to be the school's new principal. Current Union Academy principal Kris

Reis is being transferred to replace Woody as vice principal of Franklin High School.

During Monday night's meeting, the board unanimously approved the transfer of current Cartoogechaye Elementary School principal Randall Shepherd to Union Academy to replace Reis as principal.

The Cartoogechaye principal position will be advertised and interviews will begin soon.

Current Mountain View Intermediate Vice Principal Collette Lovell's resignation was also approved Monday night and will become effective on July 1. That position will also be advertised with interviews to follow shortly thereafter.

The Board of Education also formally approved the 2013-14 contract for the continuation of the Lindamood-Bell Program on Monday. Contract details include an agreement for Macon County to commit $170,050 next school year to continue the program and to allow more teachers to be trained.

Board of Education chairman Jim Breedlove noted that the Lindamood-Bell Program is funded through "At-Risk" and Title I funds and no local funds are used.

Mountain View Intermediate Principal Mark Sutton asked the board for permission to allow the school's PTO to move forward with establishing a playground at the school. When the school was built, playground equipment was not included in the overall cost and the facility currently has no outside recreation facility. According to Sutton, the PTO has raised $15,000 to begin construction of an outside recreation facility, with the goal of building a track, baseball field and playground equipment as funds allow. The board approved Sutton's request with the understanding that all necessary permits and procedures must be followed.

The Board of Education will meet again on Wednesday, July 3, at 6 p.m. for a continuation of Monday night's meeting.


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