The County School Board voted 7-2 on Thursday night to turn down a request by current I-Zone Director Sheryl Randolph for a one-year sabbatical while receiving half of her regular salary.
Joe Wingate said he got two graduate degrees while working, and Chairman Steve Highlander said he got three.
Chairman Highlander said most degrees now can be obtained online without having to go on campus - except in the Ivy Leagues.
Human Resources Director Stacy Stewart said the grant for the I-Zone director position was running out.
She said under the proposal that Ms. Randolph would apply for a new position, but would not actually serve in the post. The school system would need to hire an interim employee who would be paid a full salary.
Board members said that would amount to "paying 150 percent" for the position.
Rhonda Thurman said it was apparently the first such request since around 1980 when Don Loftis was the superintendent.
Ms. Stewart said she had not gotten another one during her 11 years over personnel.
Interim Supt. Kirk Kelly said Ms. Randolph wanted to focus in her studies at the Trevecca Nazarene program on how to turn a failing school around. Joe Galloway said that should be helpful to the school system.
There is currently a push to help boost the I-Zone schools to avoid take-over by the state.
Voting in favor of the proposal were Mr. Galloway and Karitsa Mosley Jones.
Opposed were Mr. Wingate, Chairman Highlander, Ms. Thurman, Tiffanie Robinson, Kathy Lennon, David Testerman and Joe Smith.