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Collier’s son only teacher affected from cut

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Aytes says he ‘didn’t know who’ taught driver’s ed

By Damon Lawrence

The budget cuts the Roane County Board of Education made last month hit home for County Commissioner Bobby Collier.
Collier’s son Robby taught driver’s education at Roane County High School.
That was one of the things the board cut to balance its budget after the Commission refused the school board’s request for a 14-cent increase in the property tax rate.
Collier expressed his dismay with school officials at Wednesday’s budget committee meeting.
“The only extra course that we have in high school is driver’s education, and it breaks my heart to cut that,” Director of Schools Gary Aytes said.
“How many teachers were affected?” Commissioner Ron Berry asked.
“We only had one full-time driver’s ed teacher,” Aytes replied.
That teacher was Robby Collier.
“He lost his job and lost his school,” Bobby Collier said.
“He did not lose his job,” Aytes replied.
“He lost that job,” Collier responded.
Though the elder Collier was on vacation when the Commission voted 13-0 to keep the county’s property tax rate the same for the 2013-14 fiscal year, he supported the move.
He asked Aytes if getting rid of driver’s education was payback for the Commission denying the board’s request for a tax increase.
“Mr. Collier, I will promise you I didn’t even know who the driver’s ed teacher was,” Aytes said. “I thought Robby was a special ed teacher.”
Robby Collier will be a special education teacher at Midway High School this year.
“I appreciate the fact that you all let him go back and pick that up, because he’s got an extensive background,” Collier said.
“He’ll do a good job down at Midway.”
Aytes and school system business manager Eric Harbin appeared before the budget committee to request approval of the budget amendment the board made last month.
The committee approved it 4-0.
The full commission will take the matter up at Monday’s regular meeting, which is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Kingston.
“I’ve got every bit of confidence in the world that he’ll buckle down and do what he has to do to be a good teacher, because he likes teaching,” Collier said of his
son.
“He was a great loss for that school,” Aytes said. “Not necessarily the driver’s ed being a loss, but losing that person.”
During discussions about the tax increase earlier this year, Aytes said he informed the budget committee that driver’s education was the only place the board had to cut in a high school.
“That is it,” Aytes said. “We can’t cut math. We can’t cut science. We can’t cut history.”
The school system saved $50,000 by cutting driver’s education.