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Hamilton Schools Central Office raises in dispute

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Callie Starnes
WRCB Eyewitness News Reporter 

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - We investigate salaries at the Hamilton County Schools Central Office. They are high-paying jobs, funded with your tax money.

School board members called into question Thursday night the need to raise the pay for five employees.

Four are program coordinators; the fifth is a school nurse.

Superintendent Jim Scales says they're overworked, but some board members say at a time when they're looking to cut 45 teaching positions, and fill a $10 million gap, a pay raise for anyone doesn't make sense.

School system employees have a lot to say off camera about the proposed salary increase, but no one we spoke with Friday would go on camera.

The only people making their opinions public are board members, who are divided.

The Hamilton County School Board is nearing its budget deadline. A revised version includes pay raises for five employees.

"This is a recommendation from the superintendent to try to be fair to people we have asked to do more than their share," Janice Boydston says the employees are working three jobs for the price of one, and they should be compensated.

But other board members argue now is not the time.

"It is ridiculous to think we are going to take programs away from children just so we can give someone in the central offices a raise," says board member Rhonda Thurman.

Records obtained by Eyewitness News last August show School Health Director, Sheryl Rogers makes about $61,000 a year.

Community Service Coordinator, Lakweshia Ewing: $62,000.

Gloria Moore and Nancy Reed are both coordinators, each paid $76,000.

And Alvena Kaufman, also a coordinator, makes $77,000.

We wanted to know about the work load those five have taken on.

We attempted to reach the employees but our calls were not returned. Instead, we received a call from Spokesperson Danielle Clark saying they did not want to comment.

Thurman suggests the jobs go out for bid, to see who is willing to do the work for the current salaries. "If these people don't want to do it for that let them go somewhere else and see if they can make the same amount of money out in the private sector. I promise, they will not."

But Boydston argues, taking bids would not ensure the same level of expertise. "The bottom line is I want the very best, it's not about just filling the position."

"I will not vote for it, no way, with this in there," Thurman says.

Combined, the salary adjustments amount to about $51,000. The board plans to vote on the budget on June 2nd.

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