Denning's raise irks Cleveland council

Denning's raise irks Cleveland council

September 30th, 2009 by Randall Higgins in News

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Cleveland City Council expects to meet with city Board of Education members today to learn why Schools Director Dr. Rick Denning got a raise in a tight budget year.

They also want more information on how the school system selected five contractors -- none local -- to submit bids for Cleveland High School's science wing.

The school board has an 8 a.m. information meeting. The council adjourned its Monday meeting until 3 p.m. today so it could talk with the school board.

Councilman Richard Banks questioned recently why Dr. Denning got a 4 percent pay raise when the city is trying to save money. "It looks bad to the public," he said.

Mr. Banks suggested and council members unanimously approved a motion to ask the school board to reconsider the raise. City Manager Janice Casteel sent a letter last week to school board Chairwoman Peggy Pesterfield.

In her response to Mrs. Casteel, Mrs. Pesterfield said the school board also is struggling with difficult times. Teachers are getting only scheduled STEP raises this year.

Dr. Denning's 4 percent raise "will help him towards his last five years of employment for his state retirement. It states in his contract that any raise that is in excess of what the teachers receive will be donated to the Bradley/Cleveland Education Foundation to help teachers pursue National Teacher Certification."

A small amount also is being donated to the Teen Learning Center, she wrote.

The donation provisions cover Dr. Denning's entire contract to June 30, 2013, Mrs. Pesterfield wrote.

School board members set up a process to narrow the number of bidders for the high school science wing, but some council members have questioned why that needed to be done.