County teachers facing 'double whammy'

Lack of raises concerns Mason

By AUTUMN HUGHES
Posted 5/22/20

Hard numbers from 2020-21 fiscal year budget haven’t yet been presented to the Bradley County Commission, but one part of the upcoming budget garnered some discussion among commissioners Monday.

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County teachers facing 'double whammy'

Lack of raises concerns Mason

Posted

Hard numbers from 2020-21 fiscal year budget haven’t yet been presented to the Bradley County Commission, but one part of the upcoming budget garnered some discussion among commissioners earlier this week.

Commissioner Tim Mason said he is concerned about the Bradley County Schools budget, noting several teachers in District 6 have called him “upset about the step pay raises being taken away.

“Not only have they had a tax increase, but now they’ve had their raises taken away,” Mason said during his district report. “This is a double whammy to them."

He added, "After doing some further digging, I have found out that this will affect several hundred teachers. As far as I’m concerned, we have the best school system around and I don’t want to lose teachers to other systems because they pay more.

Mason continued, "I am not knocking the school board or anyone for the difficult decisions that I know have to be made. I just want to voice my concern."

During his report, Vice Chairman Thomas Crye said the county commission’s Education Committee met last week and heard updates from Bradley County Schools on the classroom expansion projects at North Lee and Black Fox Elementary schools, and the Partnerships in Industry and Education (PIE) Center, as well as a review of the school system’s 2020-21 budget. Crye noted the schools budget is largely dependent on sales-tax revenue, which is down as a result of COVID-19 safety measures.

The schools budget was discussed more in-depth at a recent Bradley County Board of Education meeting, in which District 7 board member Jerry Frazier voiced his objection to the proposed budget if only for the eliminated step salaries typically guaranteed to teachers in the next fiscal year, meaning teachers due for a raise are “missing out.”

“Our teachers we hired expect a certain salary schedule and the only way we’re able to do that is through the budget,” he said, arms crossed. “I’m not attacking anybody. It’s just a personal opinion and I have a problem with it.”

District 3 board member Ted Bryson said he also had a problem with teachers “not getting the money.”

Board Chairman Troy Weathers said he met with a number of teachers and explained the conundrum of making cuts in lieu of having to lay off any teachers. When weighing the two options, he said teachers were happy to have jobs amid the pandemic and didn’t want anyone to suffer a different fate.

“Not one teacher said ‘I would rather have a raise and you cut teachers.’ No one,” he said, adding that administrators pleaded that if a raise to their salary meant cuts to their staff, they’d rather take no raise at all.

Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis is slated to present his budget proposal to the county commission at the June 1 meeting, with commissioners scheduled to vote on the 2020-21 budget on July 6.

In other business, the county commission:

• Approved a resolution authorizing the county mayor to negotiate and enter into an agreement with Amburgy Residential Properties LLC (doing business as Premiere Roofing) to provide roofing services at the Bradley County Health Department for an amount of $47,999.

• Approved a resolution to rezone property at Wilhoit Drive S.E. and Dalton Pike S.E. from FAR Forestry/Agricultural/Residential property to C-2 General Commercial. A public hearing was held on this rezoning request.

Bently Thomas, director of Bradley County Planning and Inspections, told commissioners notice of the public hearing was published in the Cleveland Daily Banner with information on how residents could share comments.

“We didn’t have any comments at all,” Thomas said, adding the rezoning request was recommended unanimously by the Bradley County Regional Planning Commission.

• Heard from Commissioner Charlotte Peak, who said residents of Bluebird Trail, off Spring Place Road, have asked her about lowering the speed limit on that street. She asked for it to be included on the Road Committee’s next meeting agenda.

• Heard from Commissioner Dennis Epperson, who asked about the next Road Committee meeting, suggesting perhaps the Tennessee Department of Transportation could bring information about possible roundabouts for an intersection in the area of Harrison Pike and Prospect.

Epperson said he knows of at least 300 homes “on the books” going into the Prospect area, but the entire community is growing and infrastructure needs to be looked at.

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