Board votes today on Scales' buyout

IF YOU GOWhat: Hamilton County School Board meetingWhen: 5 p.m. todayWhere: Board offices, 3074 Hickory Valley Road, Chattanooga

Hamilton County School board members today will vote on a $282,000 contract buyout for Superintendent Jim Scales.

The board also is set to discuss an interim replacement for Scales, an item added to the agenda this week, said board Vice Chairman Jeffrey Wilson.

Board members also will consider allowing Scales to leave office on June 10, but continue to be on the payroll until the end of June, said Wilson, who said he is not in favor of the buyout or replacement talks.

Scales becomes vested in the Tennessee teacher retirement system if he works until the end of June. Vesting requires 60 months of service, said Blake Fontenay, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Revenue. The retirement system rounds service credit up to the nearest month.

After less than five years on the job, Scales has said he will leave the system July 1 if board members agree to buy out the remainder of his contract. Scales has said the school board initiated the buyout talks.

That's $202,000 in base pay, $62,981 for accrued vacation and $16,200 for unused sick time. The system also will pay his medical benefits through 2011.

On top of that, Scales will receive $18,000 annually in Tennessee teacher retirement and the board will repay him for attorney's fees related to the buyout negotiations, a figure that has not been released.

Despite Wilson's objections, there appears to be enough votes on the board to approve the buyout. Board members Mike Evatt, Everett Fairchild, Joe Galloway, David Testerman and Rhonda Thurman have indicated they will support the buyout. Along with Wilson, Chip Baker, Linda Mosley and George Ricks said they want Scales to finish his contract.

This week, schools spokeswoman Danielle Clark announced she will leave the school system June 30. She said she is taking a position in Colorado but did not offer specifics.

"I have enjoyed working with you, and it has been an honor and privilege to serve the students of Hamilton County," Clark said in an email to reporters. "I am proud of the accomplishments of HCDE in the last five years."

Scales, who came to Chattanooga from a deputy superintendent's job in Dallas, is the second superintendent since Chattanooga city schools merged with Hamilton County schools in 1997. His predecessor, Jesse Register, now is director of the Metro Nashville Public Schools.