EMS principal Mark McGhee

Daniel Dye / The Herald

Elmore County Board of Education superintendent Richard Dennis introduces Mark McGhee, right, as the principal of Eclectic Middle School.

Elmore County Schools superintendent Richard Dennis introduced Mark McGhee as the new principal of Eclectic Middle School at the Elmore County Board of Education meeting Jan. 9.

McGhee is no stranger to Eclectic.

“I’ve lived in Eclectic all my life,” he said. “I graduated from high school there in 2004. When I got out of college I worked at Elmore County High School for a few years. I’ve most recently worked at Holtville (High School) as assistant principal.”

McGhee said he’s had a desire to lead a school for some time and the location of EMS is ideal.

“I’m probably partial, but there is no place quite like Eclectic,” he said. “We are certainly going to focus on student achievement and student growth. It’s good thing to go and to become part of a team where there are no huge issues.”

McGhee has a total of 12 years of experience in education with 10 of those at Elmore County Schools.

The EMS principal position came open Dec. 3 when Dr. Blair Andress transferred from the school to accept an interim principal role at Elmore County Alternative Programs (ECAP). 

Dennis and the board discussed three proposed changes to the school system’s personnel policies.

The board unanimously approved changing the work day of seven local school office jobs from seven to eight hours a day.

Human resources director Susanne Goodin indicated the seven employees who currently work in those jobs will have to apply for the updated jobs.

“Anybody who receives any compensation above what they already make, even if it is $1, I have to post that job,” Goodin said. “So, if they are currently a nine-month, seven-hour employee, I have to post a nine-month, eight-hour job. They will have to apply to it and ask for a transfer. Then once they ask for the transfer we will allow it and put it on the board’s personnel action sheet. The board will have to approve the transfers. All seven employees will be offered that.”

Dennis said the reason for moving from seven- to eight-hour days for these employees has to do with increased time schools are open and someone is needed at the front office.

“Our day has expanded some,” he said. “I think if you backtrack some years, we had a shorter day. The bigger issue is making sure we do not break federal employment guidelines, making sure they are getting compensated for their work.”

The second personnel policy discussed, which was not voted on, dealt with employees working second jobs while on a leave of absence from the school system.

“I will tell you this is not an attempt to eliminating them from second jobs,” Dennis said. “It is if you take a leave of absence in order to maintain the second job. That becomes a conflict for us. We are not talking about military and getting called to active duty. That’s a totally different situation and we will recognize situations like that.”

Goodin expanded on Dennis’ comments.

“We’ve had some situations where people were out from on-the-job injuries and they were working full time for someone else,” she said. “That’s what spurred the start of rewriting this policy. We do not think that’s appropriate or ethical.”

The third personnel policy discussed, which did not receive a vote, concerned salary changes.

“We have some inconsistencies that we are trying to clean up,” Dennis said. “What this means is there are same or similar positions in different departments with different pay scales. That would come across as looking unfair. We are trying to resolve that. From time to time we find errors and we try to correct those.”

Dennis updated the board on securing Basic Support Payments from the U.S. Department of Education’s Impact Aid program.

“We have done our Federal Impact Surveys,” Dennis said. “A lot of people associate it with the military. It’s not just military though. It involves people who live on federal lands or properties, people who work on Indian properties, civilian employees of federal jobs. If we have a qualifying percentage of our overall student population then we receive funds back from the federal government.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the payments help local school districts that educate federally connected children.

In general, to be eligible for assistance a local school district must educate at least 400 such children in average daily attendance, or the federally connected children must make up at least 3% of the school district’s total average daily attendance.

In other matters, the board:

• Approved bid to purchase indoor turf from Turf Factory Direct in the amount of $20,081.25 for Elmore County High School

• Approved Dec. 16 and 27 meeting minutes

The board will hold its next meeting at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 21 in its board room.