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November 14, 2012

Knott’s contract not renewed by Clarksville School Board

Board also approves teacher contract, tables New Tech agreement

CLARKSVILLE — A vote to allow their superintendent’s contract to expire at the end of its term came at Tuesday’s meeting of the Clarksville Community Schools board of trustees.

Kim Knott, who has led the district since 2010, will no longer be the superintendent after her contract ends on June 30, 2015.

Her contract came up as a portion of the personnel report. After Bill Wilson, board president, asked for a motion, board member Mike Kane moved to not renew it.

The motion was seconded by board member Doug Wacker, and the vote came to 4-1, with Wilson as the sole opposition.

Wilson said the board has a lot of time before they consider starting a superintendent search committee, but also said the relationship the district has with Knott may not end after the termination.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to happen,” Wilson said. “With the non-renewal of an administrator, you do issue those at the end of a year for whatever reasons. But that doesn’t mean that’s the end of the working relationship.”

Kane declined to comment on the vote.

But the board also voted to table entering into an agreement to join the New Tech Network.

The district has worked to purchase the old Value City building in Clarksville to turn it into a New Tech high school facility, which teaches through service-based projects and a different kind of educational model. Entering into the agreement costs about $400,000 through five years.

Though the measure had a motion and a second on the floor, Jim Bemiss, board member, said he still had reservations about jumping right into the deal.

“We’ve been kicking this can in all directions for about 18 months now,” Bemiss said. “I know I sound like a wimp for saying this, but I’d really like to kick this down the road another month and make a decision on it in December.”

He said he’s worried about making sure students who don’t attend the New Tech program still get a high quality education.

But other concerns were also brought up. During his opportunity to speak, teachers association president Dean Gray urged the board to make sure signing an agreement wouldn’t put the corporation in bad financial shape, given its recent layoffs and school closure.

Kane said though the payments were to be made to the New Tech Network over five years, he wanted to make sure the district had an opportunity to opt out of the agreement should something change along the way.

Wilson said he didn’t want to see the opportunity of New Tech slip through the board’s fingers, especially since they’d spent so much time thinking about making the move.

“I hate to say this, but we’re a dying corporation because of enrollment,” Wilson said. “And it’s not because of people leaving, it’s because of not having as many [people living here]. We had over, I think it was 150 cash tuition people come into our corporation, which speaks volumes for what’s going on here and the potential for what could go on.”

He said decisions made by boards decades ago locked the corporation into a geographic area that led to the situation it’s in now.

The board voted to table the measure until its meeting in December 4-1, with Wilson opposing.

The board also ratified a new contract with its teachers.

The contract raises the base salary of full-time employees hired in August 2012 to $36,000, as well as promises teachers hired for the last school year to have their salaries raised to that level.

The fringe benefit agreement outlined in 2011 will remain intact through 2013 and other salaries will remain the same, but the contract also has language outlining merit-based pay, per new state regulations. The contract was passed unanimously.

In a press release issued the day after the vote, Knott said she was happy to see an agreement reached by the teachers association and the board.

“The board is very pleased with the efforts of the two negotiating teams,” Knott said. “This agreement was predicated on new Indiana Laws and unchartered bargaining waters. Our teachers have worked very hard these past two years to implement instructional change required by new state laws, and the [Clarksville Community Schools] board recognizes this work.”

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