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City School Board discusses differentiated pay, teacher rewards

NEWPORT—In a somewhat lengthy meeting Monday, Aug. 19, members of the Newport City Board of Education aired their views about several topics.

With all members present, the group first turned their attention to the topic of differentiated pay for certain teachers during the 2019-2020 school year.

Such pay, in the past, has been used to pay teachers for work in certain after-school programs, as well as for teaching classes out of their subject areas.

Board member Linda Powell questioned the use of such money to pay a teacher for ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching in an after-school program and for paying a music teacher for teaching first grade physical education. “To me, they are not the same,” Powell said.

Director of Schools Sandra Burchette pointed out that, unlike the past, ESL “now has to be provided during the school day.”

Newport Grammar School Principal Michael Short added later, “Next year we’ll have to have certified PE teachers for all grade levels anyway.”

After further discussion, board member Mickey Powers noted, “There are too many planning periods. In the future, I’d like to see the plan for differentiated pay earlier to give the board time to look at it before we vote on it.”

Board chair Jan Brooks echoed Powers’ comments, stating, “I’d like to see it at the June meeting. That way we’ll have the summer to review and study your proposal.”

In turn, Burchette then asked board members to provide her with any “ideas” regarding the differentiated pay by May of 2020.

Board members also addressed the topic of what, if anything, to do for teachers whose students’ test scores are in the Top 5 percent of the state.

Last year, according to Burchette, teachers with “5’s” (the highest possible score) received a $1,000 bonus while those with “4’s” earned an additional $800.

The year before that, Burchette added, no such rewards were given.

Board member David Perryman voiced concern about such practices, noting, “I fear this will promote the practice of teaching to the test. I do, however, believe there should be some sort of reward to hard work.”

When questioned directly, Burchette stated, “I do commend teachers for their good work. I think it’s great to let them know how we appreciate their hard work, but sometimes such practices may hurt the morale of teachers whose students don’t do as well on the tests.”

A third topic of discussion for the evening centered around the school’s annual Beta Club trip.

On Monday’s agenda, the board was asked to approve the club’s 2020 trip to Disney and Atlanta. However, Brooks led a discussion as to why certain earlier destinations, such as Boston and New York, have been replaced.

Amy Burchette, Federal Programs Supervisor, explained that Boston had been dropped as a destination several years ago because of the added cost of having to have a second bus driver.

Board members expressed interest in such destinations as Charleston, Savannah, Williamsburg, and Chicago and agreed to postpone any action on the club’s request until their next meeting.

During the recent Newport City Council meeting board members were recognized for receiving the 2019 Board of Distinction honor from the Tennessee School Boards Association.

Alderwoman Louanna Ottinger presented the board with their certificate of recognition.

The board’s September meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 17. Board members approved changing the regular meeting date, Monday, Sept. 16, because of a conflict with the Fall District Meeting.


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Corbell indicted on several charges

NEWPORT—A Knoxville man has been indicted on a number of charges after he was involved in a vehicle pursuit from law enforcement on June 25.

Trevor Justice Corbell,24, Knoxville, was indicted by a Cocke County Grand Jury on charges of evading arrest by motor vehicle, reckless endangerment with deadly weapon involved, driving under the influence, violation of implied consent, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, resisting arrest, aggravated rape, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, theft over $1,000, speeding and failure to maintain lane.

Corbell was initially facing charges from the pursuit, but upon further investigation by the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office, it was found that Corbell was involved in the sexual assault of a female earlier that evening before the pursuit took place.

On June 25, Cocke County Sheriff Lt. Michael Whitmer was patrolling the area of West Highway 25/70 near Thinwood Drive when he observed a Dodge Caravan “swerving” in between the lines along the highway. Lt. Whitmer said as he attempted to catch up to the vehicle, the driver, later identified as Corbell, accelerated his speed.

Lt. Whitmer then attempted to conduct a traffic stop. However, Corbell did not stop and continued on West Highway 25/70 toward the Newport city limits.

The pursuit ended a short time later after Lt. Whitmer performed a PIT maneuver on Corbell’s vehicle.

Newport Police Officers were then called to the scene to assist with the arrest.

Patrolman Paul Weber said when he arrived, he ordered Corbell and a juvenile male subject to exit the vehicle. However, Corbell refused to comply with instructions.

According to the report, Ptl. Weber tased Corbell and removed him from the vehicle where he continued to resist arrest and was tased once more.

Corbell was then apprehended without further incident.

Ptl. Weber said in the report that Corbell had an odor of alcohol about his person, bloodshot eyes, and slurred speech. Corbell admitted to consuming rum prior but would not state how much. The juvenile male was also intoxicated.

Officers attempted to administer field sobriety test to Corbell but he refused to participate.

The juvenile was cited for curfew and underage consumption.

Following Corbell’s arrest, Cocke County Sheriff Detectives continued an investigation after they were called to the Newport Medical Center to take a sexual assault report.

Investigators learned that Corbell had sexually assaulted a female at her residence and then fled the scene in her vehicle minutes before the pursuit.


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Jack Farm selected as potential justice center site

NEWPORT—Members of the Cocke County Legislative Body recently made the decision to use the Jack Farm property off of Cope Boulevard for a justice center site.

Gary Carver, Corrections Committee Chair and Commissioner, asked CLB members to make a decision between the Jack Farm and County Courthouse during Monday night’s meeting.

“I would like for the commission to approve one of the sites,” Carver said. “Once the site has been chosen, Mayor Ottinger and I can negotiate with engineer firms to have the geotechnical studies done on the site. We will make decisions and run with things until we need another vote.”

The commissioners asked Carver his opinion on the two sites, as he has done the analysis for both locations.

“In my opinion, and based off what we can afford and the feedback on staffing, it’s my recommendation that we go with the Jack Farm,” Carver said.

“It gives us room to expand and creates more opportunity as a whole for the county.”

Commissioner Forest Clevenger made a motion to accept Carver’s recommendation and use the Jack Farm as the future site.

The motion passed unanimously.

Carver noted that money would only be spent on the necessary studies to see if the Jack Farm site is a viable option.

If not, the committee will pursue other options, or do more in-depth studies on the courthouse and further evaluate its options for expansion.

The commissioners chose the Jack Farm and county courthouse because both properties are owned by the county.