By Carolyn Bahm
Arlington unanimously approved Supt. Tammy Mason’s contract with an annual salary of $143,000, a business vehicle, health insurance, and other benefits. No performance bonus is included.
Lakeland approved Supt. Ted Horrell’s contract with an annual salary of $132,600, a $200 monthly car allowance, mileage reimbursement for business-related travel beyond 60 miles outside of Lakeland, a cell phone allowance of $150, health insurance, and other benefits. No performance bonus is included.
Vehicle discussed in Arlington
Arlington school board member Danny Young approved Mason’s contract along with the other board members present but said he has reservations about potential liability to the town and the school district if there should be an accident with the vehicle.
“It takes one accident to wipe out a school budget, and especially to wipe out such a young budget,” he said.
Arlington school board member Barbara Fletcher said she also had initial concerns about the expense of purchasing a vehicle, but it made financial sense when considering the cost of frequent necessary trips to Nashville. (See more details about the car purchase here.)
Arlington school board chairman Dale Viox said he appreciated Mason’s willingness to work with the board and come to an agreement on the contract. “I think the contract speaks for itself,” he said. “I think we’re getting a great deal, honestly.”
Mason told the school board, “I appreciate the board coming together, and I think it’s an example of the work that we’ll have going forward. It’s going to be vital that we continue to work together like that and come to a consensus. This is just a very small piece of what we’re about to do, and so I’m glad that is behind us. And again, thank you and I appreciate the cooperation we have working together.”
Mason continued, “I’m honored to be the face for the schools of Arlington and I vow to you that I will work tirelessly to make sure that we have the better school system around and in Tennessee.”
Fewer students in feasibility study update
Mason also discussed the updated feasibility study she had just received. Little changed from the original study, she said, but the biggest factor is a reduction of about 500 students. The first study assumed that Shelby County Schools would allow kids in the unincorporated area (mostly around Macon, Cordova and Eads) to continue going to their currently assigned schools.
“Obviously, that impacts the amount of revenue coming in,” Mason said, “but I feel confident that once we get together and this board approves a good open enrollment policy that many of those students will return to our district.”
The latest figures show projected enrollment of 4,100-4,200 students for Arlington schools, she said.
Superintendents discussing cooperative services
Mason also said she and other new local municipal school district superintendents would have their third meeting Tuesday. They planned to evaluate possible cooperation on services such as transportation and nutrition, among others, as recommended by Southern Educational Strategies (SES), a Memphis-based consulting firm. She said SES envisions a structure led by an executive board of superintendents and perhaps school board chairmen, if they so choose, to oversee that cooperative agreement; an executive director would be chosen for each of the areas that are part of that agreement.
Another immediate priority is to put together a communications system to answer citizens’ questions, Mason said. She hopes to have a basic website in place to answer frequently answered questions within the next couple of weeks.
Viox asked Mason to update the board about the school district’s calendar. She said that she and other superintendents have discussed mirroring the calendar of the Shelby County Schools (SCS) and tentatively come to a consensus that they should do so. They have reviewed a draft of that calendar, which is typically approved around the end of January or early February. She said that calendar is similar to the previous year’s, with the first day being Aug. 4.
Some superintendents have discussed having more flexibility in the start time because of the amount of work in launching new districts, but Mason said recent discussions are leading them toward mirroring the SCS calendar.
Following that calendar will provide consistency for students and ensure that teachers do not go without a paycheck, Mason said. Options include waiting for SCS to approve its calendar before Arlington adopts its own, or assuming that SCS will approve the draft and going ahead and mirroring the draft calendar. This calendar topic was among those scheduled to be discussed at the Tuesday meeting of local superintendents.