Tue
Mar 4 2008
08:01 am

McGriff applied for the Knox County job during one of the most critical times for the Roane County school system. Many of its current facilities are outdated and in decline and the board is seeking $47 million from the county commission to fix the problems.

(link...)

Things that make you say, "Hmmmmm....."

I'm as shocked as you seem to be, WC!

Lessee now... she got the BOE to agree to renew her contract before it was even up. Sounds gung-ho for Roane County to me. Almost immediately after she renews her contract ('scuse me, but isn't that contract an agreement to work for Roane County?), she turns around and applies for a job in a nice juicy metropolitan county, kinda like the one she left to come here. Exactly what does that say about her commitment to Roane County? It sure as hell raises questions in MY feeble little mind! Is she showing us that if she doesn't get what she wants, she knows how to rattle our chains? If being told no for the first time (hasn't she gotten everything else she wanted) is enough to induce her to leave, do we want (or need) her to stay?

The Good Doctor said: “I don’t see that as a negative,” McGriff said. “In fact, I see it as a positive for Roane County that they would consider my candidacy.”

She sees it as a positive... how nice. To me that translates: "Roane County should consider itself lucky to have somebody as stable and potentially in demand as me honoring the county with my presence." Oh wait - we're HONORED by someone who signs a contract then seeks employment elsewhere almost immediately after signing it. Right!

I really hope to see input here from Tyler and Earl. I respect Tyler and Earl greatly, but I do hope they're not disappointed to see me not in a rush to worship at the altar of McGriff today :-)

RB

Costs

At a joint County Commission/School Board meeting your question was raised and discussed.

The cost to renovate the school Board building was closer to $4,000. The changes were made to save energy, plus accommodate the move of the central office staff that was in the Midtown Ed. Center. The Board did have to replace the roof as the old one was leaking - which had to be done whether there were any improvements or not.

Board member Tyler Overstreet was passionate about holding down costs on the new roof and his research saved the school system $20,000 over what the architect has said was needed for that roof.

As for the car, the van she was driving was old and unsafe. Even had quit on her. Before the new car was purchased the car had quit on her between Wartburg and Oneida late one night coming back from a district meeting. The breaks had gone out another time.

If you feel there are other questionable expenses made by the school system, please post them on this forum and I feel sure that Mr. Overstreet and myself will be glad to research them for you.

Anonymous -

It don't get better than that.

Earl and Tyler will tell you the way it is, and you can take it to the bank.

McGriff I don't know well personally. Both these men I do know well and I place serious faith in what they say. They are open and above-board.

RB

In need of attention, eh?

It is obvious that she knows that, or the request for $47 mil wouldn't be there in the first place. That project was not hatched in a vacuum that didn't include her. What's in the plan is public information, as it was in a resolution prepared for County Commission and was also prepared prior to that for BOE approval. If you really wanna know, you can find out, if facts is what you're after. It ain't a state secret.

Given the tightness of money in our fair county, I think you can say it's a safe bet that when cutting dollars is talked about, the school buildings will get priority. Our BOE, while they do some things I don't always agree with, isn't a bunch of dummies. And the DOS can't manipulate the budgets for such a project in secret. And this board isn't gonna allow anybody to make fancy-schmancy changes at the school board building while other more needed things are ignored.

You've already seen Earl's correction to $4000 from what was rumored to be a $100,000 expense. Rumors never got us anywhere but in trouble. I suggest we dispense with treating them as if they were true and find out what the truth is if something is bugging us. Then we can talk about facts, not rumor and innuendo. Earl - and Tyler - will bring us the facts. We've seen that.

Liking McGriff as a person and recognizing and respecting her accomplishments for the school system are two different issues. I think I still don't like her very much. But ya gotta give even the devil his dues, and that's not the same as equating her to the devil. Bottom line is: we didn't hire her for a popularity contest, nor for me to personally like. If she does her job and does it well, she gets the respect and recognition for competency, whether I like her or not.

BTW - I assume none of us is expecting a perfect person?

I still don't like the fact the she applied for the Knoxville job. But think of this: As an employee tied to the TN State Retrement system, her retirement is tied to a percentage of the HIGHEST FIVE YEARS of earnings in her employment history. What would YOU do if you were in such a system, and had an opportunity to improve your earnings by 2 - 2.5 times? I may not like it, but I gotta recognize the reality.

RB

Answers to your questions

Here is the reply to your last post:

Everything that was done to the office was minimal. Repaint, some new carpet (the old was threadbare) and the kitchen. The only new furniture Director got was a $99 bookcase. Some items in the office belong personally to the Director. Two leather chairs now in the office are seat sprung - but no plans to replace them.

The renovation downstairs was paint, sheet rock and a window where a door used to be - all done by the school maintenance staff.

There was an office designer that that gave some ideas for FREE about renovation but their suggestions were too expensive and thus, used furniture was bought from the state warehouse. Chairs at $5-10 each; desks at $25, etc.

As for the car, the Directors contract calls for the Board to provide her with a car (always been that way). However, it is driven only for school business. It has never been driven to Alabama. The car is a basic model and has no extras.

There has been vague talk about converting MEC to the Central Office at some point, but at this time this are no plans to do so because there isn't enough space there and there is no money. The Board would have to approve any funds for that.

MEC

Given how tight money is, that we just got everyone settled in at the BOE building on Bluff road, the Board is in the process of trying to get money for a building program and that we have other serious facility needs - it does not seem to be an appropriate time to do some physical administrative moves. No harm in putting something like that in future plans, but not to try and implement at this time.

I would not support it.

Clarification RE: $'s

Dr. McGriff spent much less than $4,000 on her office, maybe $400 dollars for her office.

Now if you include the new energy efficient windows for the front of the building, updating the kitchen, adding an awning or two, some new tile and carpet, and finishing off the downstairs to include finished office space to house SPED, and minor modifications to be able to house the entire central office staff under one roof, then the costs would come close to, but under, $40,000 for total building renovations. I think Earl left off a zero when replying about all improvements (we just spoke).

It was a productive move to house all central office staff under one roof. Having some at MEC and the balance at Bluff Road wasted a great deal of money in terms of inefficiency. The ability to coordinate and cooperate worked for us by acting in this manner.

For the record, most all of the central office improvements were scheduled to be made prior to her being the DOS and would have been made regardless of who was selected to be DOS. Sometimes you have to invest money to step up to the next level of productivity. That is money well spent, not wasted. Our central office staff is a staff to be proud of and they are working hard for our students. In an earlier post, months ago, I addressed these issues and spoke to the high quality of our central office staff -- they just get better.

The roof Earl addressed was proposed to cost approximately $95,000 (tar and gravel) and I pushed for a foam roof that offers energy savings and has self-flashing features. We went in that direction and the roof cost about $44,000, a savings of $50,000. You could say we saved 50K on the roof to invest back into our building improvements. Sounds like smart money to me when you get a bigger bang for your buck. Foam roofs are a great solution for flat roofs.

Her old van as an issue? Yeah, I've been stranded on the side of the road late at night in that thing. It needed to be replaced and the new one was purchased at state prices, saving close to $8,000 off the price of a new auto. Reliable transportation is necessary to do business. Could she have scaled back, maybe, but it isn't all that fancy anyway, it's pretty standard as cars go.

Going to Alabama? Who thinks this stuff up? Pay attention and you'll see her auto parked at the Central Office very late in the evenings and some nights. That’s because she's there working, it is not a typical 9-5 job.

I think for years the BOE has considered MEC as a Central Office location but that isn't even in the planning stages. It's a very long range goal and not a formal goal. MEC would be a better location and facility to operate the Central Office staff from but that isn't our priority in the least. If someone comes along and wishes to buy the current central office for private development and the price paid was above market then it might self fund a move to MEC with improvements. Not likely, in this environment but we’ll consider any white knights and their generosity.

When it comes to buildings and facilities, our plan is to start in the elementary and middle schools first and work our way to the high schools. It’s a plan. That was phase one and it isn't off the ground yet. Phase two will address high schools. That gives us, you, time to think about how to proceed with our high schools. See Earl's blog for information on this subject.

I’ve tried to clarify. Questions? Email or phone me.

Maybe she was using it as a

Maybe she was using it as a ploy to make her "stock" go up. I wonder if the School Board would be foolish enough to consider tacking a bonus onto her current contract, since she has recognized herself as such a huge benefit to Roane County!

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