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Covington Board Weighs Reclassification for Retired Educators Serving in New Roles

The Covington Board of Education opted to table an issue related to converting two head teacher positions to a newly created School Administrative Manager (SAM) positions.

Two teachers in the computer-based learning program at the Covington Adult School have served in their roles in the certified system for a number of years and since both have retired, they asked to be changed to classified employees so they can earn salaries equivalent to their experience.

Board chair April Brockhoff and board member Glenda Huff expressed concern.

Brockhoff said that she was not comfortable with the idea because the funds had not been earmarked in the budget for the positions, and also because she wasn't sure that such promotions would be fair to other teachers and administrators.

Huff said she needed more information on the issue.

Mike Ellis, one of the retired teachers who is asking for the change, requested a chance to explain his case.

"I have been in my position for eight years when I was asked to help design a program for these kids," Ellis said. "I was principal at John G. (Carlisle) for seventeen years, and all seventeen years were easier than what I am doing now. This is a question of fairness. Being retired, I have made $51,000 a year for eight years. I don't get raises. We have teachers who come to the school who make a lot more than me, and they don't know how to do the job if I am not there."

He said he could make up to $66,000 if his position were changed.   

Ellis's retirement also prevents him from working more than 167 days, so he donates the rest of the days he works, since a typical school year is over 180 days. Ellis told the board the position of SAM has already been created at Sixth District School, so it is not being created just for this situation.

Board attorney Mary Ann Stewart told the board that it was within its power to create the position, and then amend the budget to fund the position, but Brockhoff and Huff were still not reassured.

Board member Jerry Avery said he thought they ought to pay the man.

"Talk about teacher retention," Avery said, meaning that Ellis has stayed at the school doing his job, and will stay at the school, but he would like a pay scale commensurate to his job and knowledge.   

Avery said that that kind of loyalty and dedication to the students should be compensated.

But the board tabled the issue so that it could investigate it and gather more information.   

Director of Personnel Eric Neff told the board that he would answer any questions the board has, and Superintendent Alvin Garrison said he would help the board get any of the information they needed to make a decision.

In other action, the board accepted the compensating rate of 108.1 cents on real property with a 0.3 exoneration for a grand total of 108.4 cents for real property for every $100 value. The rate for personal property is 114 cents with a 0.3 exoneration for a total of 114.3, and is expected to produce $17,381.765 for the district. 

This marks the sixth consecutive year that the board has accepted the compensating rate only, rather than raise property taxes up to the 4 percent allowed without a public vote.

The board approved the District Facility Plan Hearing report, as well as buying guided reading materials for Sixth District and Ninth District schools.

Ken Kippenbrock, director of pupil personnel, gave some information about the YouthBuild program, and had a student come and talk about the fact that she didn't know what field she wanted to go into, and the classes helped her so that she was able to get her industry certificate in medical assistance. As a result, she has a job at St. Elizabeth Hospital and is going back to school to become an registered nurse. Before, she was working at Burger King, with no idea of what she wanted to do with her life. The program has a high rate of placement for students, Kippenbrock said.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor