CHURCH HILL — Every Hawkins County Schools employee was approved for a 2 percent pay increase in this year’s budget except for one — an oversight that was corrected by the school board Thursday evening.
On Thursday the Hawkins County Board of Education voted unanimously to give director of schools Steve Starnes a two year contract extension, as well as increase his salary by 2 percent.
Board member Bob Larkins, who made the motion, noted that the raise, which amounts to about $1,800, is a well deserved token of appreciation.
“I would like to be the first person to congratulate Mr. Starnes on a job well done his first year,” Larkins said. “I think he’s done an excellent job, and I know I have talked to him on many occasions late in the evening, at night, weekends, holiday breaks — and he’s been at the office.”
Larkins added, “I think that is indicative of his commitment and his loyalty to doing his job and I’m totally impressed with him for the past year.”
Upon being evaluated recently by the BOE Starnes received a score of 4.34 out of 5. Of that score Larkins said, “That’s about as good as it gets.”
Larkins said that while in Gatlinburg recently he spoke to some of Starnes’ peers who said Starnes is highly respected in the region for his professional demeanor.
“They were complimentary of him, and I said, Dont’ get any ideas,” Larkins said. “He’s not to be solicited for a position.”
Shane Bailey, who chairs the Hawkins County Commission’s Education Committee, told the BOE Thursday he and his fellow committee members recommended a contract extension for Starnes.
“I’m speaking for all of the commissioners on the committee when I let you know how proud and of the job director Starnes has done this past year,” Bailey said. “He has enlightened us more than we could ever have imagined. He’s been transparent. He’s been open, honest — everything we could ask for in a director.”
There was an effort by board member Tecky Hicks to delay the vote on Starnes’ contract extension by a month, and when that failed, to limit the extension to one year.
Both attempts failed, and Starnes was approved unanimously for the two year extension and 2 percent pay increase.
Thursday’s BOE meeting was held at Volunteer High School.
In other business Thursday the BOE:
- Voted unanimously to appoint Chris Christian as board chairman for a second year. Larkins was unanimously appointed vice-chairman, and Debbie Shedden was unanimously name chairman pro-tem and the board’s TLN representative.
- Agreed to declare the Spruce Pine Grade School property near the Mooresburg community as surplus and advertise for bids to sell the property with a minimum bid of $10,000. The property is one acre of vacant land directly across from Spruce Pine Baptist Church on Route 31 north of Mooresburg
- Heard a report from Starnes that based on deed records the old Shilo School property on Housewright Hollow Road near Shiloh Baptist Church in the Stanley Valley community reverted back to the previous owner when the property ceased to be used as a school.
At the request of property assessor Jeff Thacker, the board authorized Starnes to issue a notice of abandonment for that property so that it can be added to the tax rolls, and the heirs who now own the property can have a new deed drawn if they so desire.
- Heard a report from Starnes that the former Lakeview School property is leased to the Lakeview Volunteer Fire Department until 2077 for public recreational purposes.
The fire department uses the property for fundraising tractor pulls, which Starnes said meets the terms of the lease. The BOE had considered declaring the property surplus and putting it up for sale.
- Agreed to quit claim the St. Clair Rotarian Park property, which is currently used as a county park.