The Blount County Board of Education was forced to fill midyear vacancies during last week’s meeting.
The openings were the result of employees taking the early-retirement option to keep from paying increased cost of healthcare benefits, which would go into effect after legislation passed earlier this year.
The legislation would drastically raise premiums and also increase the amount that teachers pay into their retirement.
“It was not as bad as it could have been,” said Blount County Supt. Jim Carr. “We had 29 employees in the system that took the early-retirement option but there were probably 50 or so that were eligible.
“This will have a real effect on those kids in the classroom.”
Carr said the 29 openings were widely varied. Two administrators – Susan Moore High School principal Steve Hallman and Cleveland Elementary principal David Bradford – took the early-retirement option and their interim replacements have already been named.
Others retiring included five elementary teachers, four high school teachers, three teachers at the Blount County Career Tech Center, two special education aides, two custodians, four transportation employees, one Child Nutrition Program worker, one maintenance employee, and various aides.
All of the new hires are temporary and the jobs will be reposted at the end of the school year.
Those hired last week: Craig Marsh, automotive service technology instructor, and Bobby Darrell Calvert, collision repair technology instructor, Blount County Career Tech Center; Julie Manning, teacher, Susan Moore Elementary; Ronald Keith Shadinger, physical education teacher, Cleveland Elementary; Kelly Marsh Winnett, teacher, Hayden Middle; Shannon L. Hollingsworth, teacher, Locust Fork Elementary; Caleb W. Longshore, social science teacher, Mary Brittany Purpura, family and consumer science teacher, and Adam Randall Edmondson, agriscience teacher, Susan Moore High; Sharla Renee Tibbs, math teacher, J.B. Pennington; Angela Gray Bencko, Child Nutrition Program employee, Hayden Elementary; Marsha Diane Sullivan and Greg Thomas, school bus aides, and Donna Suzette Gilham, special education aide, Blount County Learning Center; Melissa Lewis, custodian, Southeastern School; Phillip Barnett, custodian, J.B. Pennington; and Jeffrey H. Moss as maintenance technician/ electrician for the system.
The board also accepted the resignations of Hayden High teacher and coach Kevin Brown and utility school bus driver David Simmons.
In other business, the board acted on the recommendation of Carr and:
approved a field-trip request for 80 Susan Moore sixth-grade students to attend Camp Cosby in Alpine, May 7-9.
awarded Child Nutrition Program bids of $1,239,638.66 for food items to Osborn Brothers of Gadsden, contracted for the period from Jan. 2, 2012, through June 2, 2012.
contracted with a parent to transport her child to the Blount County Learning Center from Nov. 21, 2011, through May 24, 2012. She will receive mileage reimbursement at the board approved rate.
agreed to pay Leigha Rivera to teach pageant dances to seventh through 12th grade students at Appalachian participating in the 2012 Miss AHS Pageant. She will be paid $5 for each student participating in the pageant, not to exceed $210, from the school’s local funds.
Finally, the board held officer elections with Gregg Armstrong elected president and Bruce McAfee chosen as vice president.
Present at the Nov. 28 meeting were Carr, assistant superintendent Rodney Green, board members Armstrong, McAfee, Chris Latta, Craig Johnson, and Jackie Sivley, board secretary Karla Latham and several visitors.