Departing board member Clarence Mabe made the motion at his final Washington County Board of Education meeting Thursday night. His motion, made at the end of the financial committee report, was to give an immediate $10,000 boost to principals in the county and a $5,000 raise to assistant principals, totaling about a $250,000 expenditure for the county.
“When the principal of one of our elementary (schools) can go to Johnson City as a kindergarten teacher and get a raise, we’ve got a problem,” Mabe said when he made his motion. “We have lost 25 administrators in the past two years because every year they get a better offer, and then they go, and I can’t blame them.”
Mike Masters seconded the motion.
According to data gathered by the state last year, Washington County principals are paid an average of $66,154 per year, about $20,000 less than the $86,384 state average, and well below the $99,255 average of Johnson City principals. According to the same data, Washington County principals are paid less than surrounding counties such as Sullivan, Greene and Johnson counties, but above the average salaries of principals from Unicoi, Hawkins and Carter counties.
|Principal Salaries by system
|TN State Average
Philip McLain was hesitant, and said he would like to take a look at the budget before making a roughly quarter-million-dollar commitment.
“I understand it, I like it, but you’re talking a lot of money,” McLain said. “I’m not against it, but I need somebody to tell me we’ve got the money and we’re going to have it year after year after year.”
Mabe said he had talked with interim Director of Schools Bill Flanary about the possibility of raises. Flanary said the money was in the budget, and said that almost half of the principals in the county turned in applications for jobs in other school systems over the summer. He went on to add that a central office supervisor took a job in another school system as an assistant principal for a $30,000 increase in pay.
“I’m sick of listening to this, ‘I had to do it because it’s too much money to turn down,’” Flanary said. “We’re training fine young principals in Washington County and while a quarter of a million dollars is a fortune, it may be the best money we’ll ever spend.”
Mary Beth Dellinger said she would like to see teachers get raises as well, and Keith Ervin said he didn’t see how principals could get a raise when board members were told in a budget meeting that no county employees were getting a raise.
“I agree that teachers, principals, everybody needs a raise,” he said. “I just don’t see how ... it’d have to come out of our fund balance.”
“This is something that should have been discussed with all of us, this is a whole lot of money,” Chairman Jack Leonard said. “I really feel like I was left out of the loop on this one. This is the first time I’ve heard about it.
“This should have been in some type of communication meeting.”
Mabe apologized, and Leonard suggested that the matter should be tabled and discussed at a later date, and McLain seconded his motion. The motion to table passed in a 6-3 vote, with Mabe, Masters and Todd Ganger opposing it. The new board can pick up discussion of the matter at a later date.