Franklin County Schools: Addressing Teacher Retention

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Responding to input received at the December workshop on teacher retention, at the Jan. 10 meeting the Franklin County School Board voted to provide term life insurance with a $20,000 benefit to all full-time school system employees. The board also recognized teacher of the year awardees.

Human Resources Supervisor Linda Foster presented two life insurance options: a policy paying a $10,000 benefit costing the school system $14,710 annually and a policy with $20,000 benefit costing $28,565 annually. Foster pointed out Franklin County Schools currently provided long-term disability insurance for noncertified employees, at a cost of $48,495 annually, but no one had ever used the benefit. County Finance Director Andrea Smith said the county formerly offered long-term disability to county employees but dropped the policy in favor of offering term life with a $10,000 benefit. Only two employees had received long-term disability benefits, Smith explained.

Offering term life insurance “could be life changing for families,” board member Sara Liechty said.

Board Vice Chair Lance Williams suggested dropping the long-term disability policy and providing term life with a $10,000 benefit, possibly revisiting the benefit amount in the future. The board decided, instead, to provide employees with the $20,000 benefit. Board member Sarah Marhevsky noted the $48,000 savings from dropping the long-term disability insurance would more than pay the premium for the $20,000 benefit.

Following up on another issue raised at the teacher retention workshop, Director of Schools Stanley Bean said the committees formed to address teacher dissatisfaction would likely report to the board in March. The teacher retention workshop reflected a need to address five issues: support, apathy, and morale; getting students up to reading level; social and mental health; pay; and community perception. The committees were charged with investigating why there was a problem, how to make improvements, and how to measure the success of changes made. “They may go in a different direction than we’re even thinking about,” Bean observed.

Bean announced the teachers selected by their schools as teacher of the year. The awardees will be the county’s nominees for recognition at the state level. Liechty suggested the recognized teachers receive a monetary gift, noting some school systems gave teacher of the year awardees $1,000 or more. The board will take up the suggestion at a February 7 workshop. The following educators were selected as “Teacher of the Year:” Beverly Smith (Broadview); Deborah Harris (Clark Memorial); Tammy Condra (Cowan); Sue Heaton (Decherd); Dana Knight (North Lake); Janelle Sullivan (Rock Creek); Donna Barnes (Sewanee); Paula Watts (North Middle); Jessica Allen (South Middle); Brittney Butner (Franklin County High School); Leslie Jones, Brook Davis, Karen Mathews (Huntland Elementary, Middle, and High School).

Reporting on federal Elementary and Secondary School Extended Relief (ESSER) funding, Bean said the school system was required to seek public input on the ESSER 3 Plan every six months. Going forward, Bean will include the invitation to offer input on the board meeting agenda and asked to be advised in advance of discussion topics so he could provide information if needed. Liechty requested additional information on plans for spending funds designated for teacher retention.

The board will meet at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 7, for a workshop on School District Goals and the Code of Conduct. The regular February board meeting will follow the workshop.

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