The move, school board Chairman Michael Hughes said, means for sure that DeLoach will remain with the school system and won’t go to work “across the street.” That could have occurred if the General Assembly approves and the County Commission ratifies, by a two-thirds majority, a private act to put school finances under county Accounts and Budgets Director Larry Bailey.
The Board of Education voted 5-2 at Thursday’s regular meeting to approve a $5,000 stipend or supplement for the school system’s second assistant director, who would be joining Assistant Director of Student Learning Angela Buckles. That followed a work session during which the BOE discussed Cox’s request.
The board has no authority to say whether Cox can name an assistant director, but it must approve a salary or stipend. Wendell Smith is retiring as head of human resources July 1.
Member Mark Ireson spoke out against the proposal during the work session and the meeting, saying that the system had no assistant when he joined the BOE four years ago. However, Vice Chairman Randall Jones said those slots were in the 2012 budget, just not filled.
Ireson and Jane Thomas voted against the stipend, while Hughes, Jones and members Matthew Spivey, Paul Robinson and Randall Gilmore voted for it.
“I would love to see Mrs. DeLoach stay with us,” Ireson said, adding that a “ballooning” administration is not the answer, as the student population dwindled from 12,981 to 10,783 last year and schools close and consolidate.
Cox said the central office is understaffed as is and the move will not add a new employee.
“Is $5,000 enough? I don’t think it is enough,” Spivey said. “Anybody on the board would be hard-pressed to argue our lead team is overstaffed.”
Jones and Cox said most school systems have two assistant directors or superintendents and that the number of employees in the system, not the number of students, is the justification.
“It’s not up to us to send her or allow her. It’s up to her,” Hughes said.
Thomas asked in the work session if DeLoach, who oversees two accountants in the central office and two in payroll, has experience in human resources.
Hughes and Cox said her financial background would help her, as would other employees in central office.
“I have full confidence that we won’t miss a beat,” Cox said.
In other action, the board in 7-0 votes:
— Kept all fees for 2020-21 the same as this year.
— Awarded the high bid on the five-acre Holston Institute ballfield, declared surplus, to Keith Cate of Cate Communications for $51,000, compared to five other sealed bids opened May 27 that ranged from two at $20,000 each, one at $25,500, one at $26,000 and one at $50,005;
— Waived until June 30, 2021, a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy on personal leave and vacation because of the COVID-19 pandemic;
— Approved on a waiver of rules a policy requiring any employee who is arrested to notify the school system, although arrest would not result in automatic termination;
— Approved a contract renewal for board attorney Pat Hull;
— Approved a series of year-end budget housekeeping transfers and amendments.