PERRY — The Houston County Board of Education decided Tuesday it will only renew the contracts of certified part-time retired employees with multiple skill sets working in the schools — those with additional certifications or who sponsor extracurricular activities.
The motion was approved in a 4-3 vote by board members Toby Hill, Marianne Melnick, Helen Hughes and Griff Clements. Board Chairman Tom Walmer, along with members Skip Dawkins and Fred Wilson, voted against it.
Walmer would not say how many personnel were affected by the vote until the individual staff members are notified.
“They provide a valuable service,” said Superintendent David Carpenter before the vote. “We tried to be methodical with this.”
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In Houston County, there are 29 part-time retired employees, earning annual salaries from about $10,000 to almost $80,000, according to records obtained by The Telegraph. Many are teachers at elementary, middle and high schools all over the county. The majority of the staff members on the list, about 20, make about $30,000 a year.
Officials say they provide instruction in critical areas that otherwise may not be staffed, such as Advanced Placement or other courses, and save the system the costs of benefits.
There also are several central office staff members among the part-time retired employees.
In other business, the board unanimously approved a budget reduction plan that will cut $16.5 million in costs to the school system.
The plan, which builds on one presented to the board April 28, removes local supplement step increase for certified employees, as well as experience-based step increases for classified employees, for a savings of more than $699,000. However, eligible employees will receive step increases on the state level.
More reductions in contract days and salary grade pay will result in a savings of about $117,000.
The approved plan affects 191 jobs in the system. The majority are reduction in force cuts: 82 classified staff, which do not require teaching certifications, and 92 certified positions, which include teachers. An additional seven positions will not be replaced, and 10 jobs were moved to grant funds.
Of the total jobs affected, 102 are certified positions. About half of those are staff retirements and resignations, said Stephen Thublin, assistant superintendent for finance and business operations.
The board also unanimously approved several new hires, all internal candidates, for top positions in Houston County schools.
Eric Payne, principal of Bonaire Elementary School, will become the system’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. Payne replaces Wanda Creel, who left Houston County to become the superintendent in Barrow County.
Rose Powell, a teacher at Feagin Mill Middle School, will become an assistant principal at Houston County High School.
Chris Brown, a teacher at Tucker Elementary School, will become an assistant principal and Career, Technical and Agricultural Education supervisor at Veterans High School.
Vickie Jordan, a literacy coach at Centerville Elementary School, will become the assistant principal for instruction for Eagle Springs Elementary School.
Becky Daniel, a senior purchasing agent at the central office, will become the system’s director of purchasing.
Several board members also noted the Tuesday meeting was Carpenter’s last as superintendent. He will retire May 28 after a 35-year career in Houston County schools.
“Mr. Carpenter has given us leadership other systems could only dream of,” said Hill.
“He’s steady, has absolute integrity, no bit of ego and only works for the best of the school system. We (could not have had) a better person to lead us through this series of crises than him.”
After all the board members made remarks, the audience stood to give Carpenter a round of applause.
“In difficult times, it’s great to be with the people we have here,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter then thanked staff, teachers and others within the school system.
“The Houston County school system will always be near and dear to my heart,” he said.
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.