The Dickson County Board of Education discussed changes in its coronavirus guidelines for the school year that begins Monday. Aug. 2 and issues with staff, particularly salaries, at its monthly meeting last week.
Director of Schools Dr. Danny Weeks said there was a delay in getting all the air conditioners cleaned and running in district schools, and he attributed it to school buildings being in use for summer school.
The updated coronavirus policies include:
• Masks and facial coverings will be optional for all staff and students;
• Staff will encourage handwashing during bathroom breaks, meals, and other times deemed necessary;
• Whenever possible, students will socially distance by three feet;
• Students and staff not feeling well should stay home, but normal attendance rules and guidelines will be applied;
• If a student has been determined to have been in close contact, meaning less than six feet for more than 15 minutes, with someone who has tested positive for the virus, the parent or guardian will be contacted and the student required to quarantine.
• Sporting events, field trips, and similar activities will return to normal, unless another organization sanctioning the event, such as The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, has different requirements for the event.
• Schools have reopened their doors to the community, such as visitors, package drop-offs, etc. However, some schools have specific policies in place just for their locations.
According to Weeks, the district has 11 unfilled positions for teachers and staff (guidance counselors, etc.) and employs approximately 680 licensed teachers. He stated that this was the district’s most difficult year finding teachers, especially ones for math and upper-division science.
Weeks showed the board a graph showing the reasons teachers left in the last school year. According to that graph, 45 teachers retired in the past year; eight cited monetary reasons for leaving; and 42 took another job.
Board member Josh Lewis said he wanted to see a specific category for teachers who said they left because they aren’t making enough money. Board member Steve Haley said that he wants to see that category broken down further to show those leaving for better paying public school jobs and those leaving for better paying jobs in the private sector.
Weeks said he would consider that possibility.
Lewis said that Dickson County doesn’t have enough teachers to support the school system and has to recruit teachers from other counties. Board member Patricia Hudson said that nearby counties are paying more to their teachers so Dickson County is losing teachers to other school systems.
Weeks said the district’s main competition for teacher salaries is Clarksville-Montgomery and Williamson County. Weeks said that last year, the starting teacher’s salary in Dickson County was $39,072 and the average salary for all instructional personnel was $50,885.
According to Tim Adkins, Communications Director of the Cheatham County School District, the average district-wide salary there is $46,252.
According to documents on Williamson County Schools’ website, teachers’ salaries vary from $43,150-$73,190 based on the teacher’s education level and years of teaching experience.
According to documents posted on the Clarksville-Montgomery County School’s website, teachers’ salaries vary from $41,138-$78,579 based on the teacher’s education level and years of teaching experience.
The board unanimously approved a proposal to build a barn/agricultural building at Dickson County High School. Weeks said that last February several donors expressed interest in contributing to Dickson County’s Career and Technical Education program for the building to be used by the high school’s Future Farmers of America program.
According to Weeks, the donors would cover 90%-95% of the construction costs, while the rest can be included in the district’s budget.
Board member Joe Underwood said he would’ve liked to have had more details about the project before it had been decided upon in the proposal.