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Superintendent Rick Smith speaks as the Hamilton County Board of Education meets on June 1.

Superintendent Rick Smith was given a four-year contract extension by the Hamilton County Board of Education on Thursday night.

Smith is now under contract until July 31, 2019, and will earn a yearly salary of approximately $199,000 for the four years of his contract. That's a slight raise compared to his 2013 contract, when the board gave him a $25,000 bump to $190,000. The 8-0 vote was unanimous of those present, with none of the board voicing opposition.

Board member Donna Horn said she voted yes for several reasons. She believes Smith is underpaid, as far as other superintendents go in the area.

"Bottom line is I don't want to see him leave and feel unappreciated," she said. "So I thought we really had to do this."

The momentum for Smith has been high over the last few months thanks to his vigorous campaign to increase the schools budget by $34 million and make Chattanooga "the smartest city in the South."

At June's school board meeting, Smith received the highest annual evaluation score from the board in his four years as superintendent.

Each year, the nine board members fill out a 50-question form evaluating different aspects of the superintendent's performance. Answers are on a scale, with 1 signifying "significantly below expectation" and 5 denoting work "significantly above expectation."

All told Smith received an average score of 4.02, which puts him in the "above expectation" category overall for the first time.

In other business Thursday, board members voted 5-3 against amending its independent bus driver's contract. The proposed addendum would have given drivers one day's pay for every four days of school missed due to inclement weather. Those in favor of the addendum to the contract wanted more security for the bus drivers when bad weather strikes and they aren't able to work.

However, opponents thought choosing one group for special treatment to wasn't right. Horn was among that group and voted no.

"We have all these hourly workers, and it's not their fault they can't go to work either," she said. "So I felt like if we can't do it for all of them, we have to wait."

The board also voted to change its scheduled September meeting date to Sept. 24.

Contact staff writer Evan Hoopfer at ehoopfer@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731 or at twitter.com/EvanHoopfer.

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