Start date for new Hawkins director of schools pushed back a month due to wife's health issue

Jeff Bobo • Dec 16, 2018 at 8:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The start date for future Hawkins County Director of Schools Matt Hixson has been pushed back a month to Jan. 31 due to a medical procedure his wife has scheduled for mid January.

Interim Director Reba Bailey explained to the County Commission’s Education Committee Thursday that if Hixson started Jan. 1, as was the original plan, his family health insurance plan wouldn’t kick in until Feb. 1.

Valerie Hixson is scheduled for surgery on Jan. 10, Bailey said.

Despite the delay of his official start date, Hixson will be attending two staff meetings on Jan. 4 — one at Cherokee High School at 8:30 a.m. for school staff west of Rogersville; the other at 1 p.m. at Volunteer High School for school staff east of Rogersville.

Bailey told the committee those meetings will be an opportunity for Hixson to address teachers and staff and introduce himself, and she encouraged county commissioners to attend as well.

Hixson and the Board of Education are in the process of ironing out the final details of his 3.5 year contract, which will pay him a base salary of $105,000 per year.

On Thursday evening, the BOE approved a final draft of that contract to be forwarded to Hixson for his signature.

Two changes approved by the BOE included the Jan. 31 start date as well as an adjustment to his vacation accrual.

Hixson had asked that his vacation accrual mirror that of newly hired teachers in that he would be given credit for his 17 years in education.

As a result, Hixson would receive 1.75 days per month until he reached the 20 year mark, at which time that would increase to two days per month.

Instead the BOE voted to give Hixson 15 days of vacation for the year beginning on day one and increase that to 21 vacation days per year in his second year.

Amending Hixson’s request was the idea of board member Tecky Hicks, who said he felt with Hixson’s wife undergoing a medical procedure, he might need the days sooner rather than later.

Board members Chris Christian and Debbie Shedden agreed, noting that with five children entering new schools in January, Hixson might need a day or two for them as well.

Chairman Bob Larkins said he’s confident the school system will be getting more than 40 hours a week from Hixson either way.

Hixson, the current assistant director with the San Jacinto, California, school system, was approved unanimously in October by the BOE to succeed Steve Starnes, who left Hawkins County Schools in May to become the new director of Greeneville City Schools.

Bailey, who previously served as Title 1 federal programs director, has been interim director since Starnes’ departure.

Education Committee officers

Thursday's Education Committee meeting was the first since new members were appointed by new Mayor Jim Lee.

Keith Gibson was named chairman without opposition, Nancy Barker was named vice chairman without opposition and Glenda Davis was named secretary.

The panel asked that Hixson participate in its March 1 meeting for introductions, after he’s had a couple of months to get situated.

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