One Houston County school board employee got caught up in the middle of a rather heated discussion at Thursday’s specially-called school board meeting.

The argument stemmed from a determination to permanently alter the pay scale for the maintenance supervisor position, a job that Dominick Curran has held for the last 12 years.

Rhonda Hicks, a representative of the Alabama Education Association (AEA), said the school board has been reviewing the matter for years. AEA is a statewide professional organization that represents public school employees in the state of Alabama.

She became frustrated that the board was discussing the employee’s salary in a public discussion.

“I understand that we are discussing a position, but there is only one person that holds this position and it’s public knowledge, and we’re discussing this person out here in public more so than we’re discussing … and that should be executive session,” Hicks said.

School Board Chairman Vince Wade responded that while he would like to discuss the matter in private but by law, they are not allowed.

The maintenance supervisor position, before Thursday, was on Level 2 of the support salary schedule with a pay scale of $43,605 to $47,495, although pay is weighted if they have a professional degree.

The current supervisor’s salary fell in the middle of the pay scale, but was also granted two $15,000 supplements to pay for duties that did not fall under the role of maintenance supervisor like construction.

Wade said that it was wrong to “hold hostage” 41 percent of a person’s annual wages in the form of supplemental checks twice a year.

The proposal was to move the position to Level 30, a schedule not currently being used, and absorb one of the supplements into the salary. However, the superintendent did not bring forth a fix to the pay scale – which started at $11,024.

Board members showed frustration with ambiguity over what they were being asked to vote on.

“I’m super disappointed that we don’t have a better plan than this,” Wade said to Sewell. “I’m disappointed and embarrassed and frustrated that this is the plan you brought us.”

With absence of direction of Chief Financial Officer Kerry Bedsole, it seemed that the decision would be delayed yet again before the next pay period.

But Sewell offered another solution to use Curran’s current pay as a standard, making the 12-year mark on the salary schedule for Level 30 $69,000 for Bedsole to use as a standard to create a scale, ensuring that his pay would not be altered. Curran is still set to receive one of the $15,000 supplements annually.

The board unanimously passed the motion.

Chalk Talk, an education notebook compiled by education beat reporter Sable Riley, appears each weekend in the Dothan Eagle and at dothaneagle.com

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