The Cumberland County Board of Education met last night for their regular session.
Brown Elementary School was showcased to start off the meeting. Principal Stephanie Speich told the board the school is promoting its literacy campaign with several exciting programs. They offer accelerated reading for grades 2-8; the 6th grade participates in a 40 Book Challenge (more than half already have completed this) and 1st graders participate in a reading challenge. The school also hosts a family reading night four times a year with the theme “There is no app to replace your lap. Read to your children.”
An update on school-building projects was presented by Kim Chamberlin with Upland Design Group. Chamberlin told the board the roof is being repaired at the school bus garage and the renovation of the bathrooms at Cumberland County High School was completed. The football field at CCHS will be handed back over to the school next week after a final inspection is done. As far as the CCHS stadium, much of the inside has been gutted, including the old board room, as renovations there are in progress. Upgrades to the outside of the stadium will not get underway until this year’s football season ends. Chamberlin concluded with an update on the new Crab Orchard Elementary School project. Ground excavation is 50 percent complete. Crab Orchard Utility offered and put in water lines running to where the school will be constructed. Middle Tennessee Gas also gave their services to relocate their gas lines. The sewer issue at the school was addressed later in the meeting.
When Cumberland County schools go back into session next month, students and parents will see the national motto displayed near each school office door. A plaque reading “In God We Trust” will be placed in all schools in Cumberland County, as a result of a recent bill passed by lawmakers for all public schools. The plaques were shown to school-board members and the public who attended last night’s meeting.
School-board members then got a first look of a draft for the school system’s strategic plan and approved an agreement to administer the school-nutrition program.
The school board voted unanimously to send a resolution to lawmakers requesting funding for more school nurses. The main basis for the request is a staggering figure released last night. Last school year, school nurses documented 52,434 students seen. Of those visits, 44,949 students were returned to class (this number comprises students who either saw a nurse once or repeated times, especially in a deadly flu season last year). The number shows the powerful effect the flu season had on the county, given that the unofficial population of Cumberland County last year was 58,594. The current nurse-pupil ratio is one nurse for every 3,000 students in Tennessee. The resolution states having one nurse for every 700 students would greatly aid school systems statewide.
The school board them approved several policies on first and second readings.
The sewer issue at Crab Orchard Elementary School was next on the agenda in the Building and Grounds Committee report. A recent report shows there is plenty of land and soil on the campus for a new septic system. The old system was deemed beyond repair. Land where an old house was located on the west side of the campus is being considered for the placement of the septic system. The cost will be $390,000. This is cheaper than one alternative of connecting sewer lines to Crossville which would have run over $800,000. The school Building and Grounds Committee will consider the report and possible action soon.
The 2018-2019 pay scale for teachers and employees of the school system, including a 2-percent raise, was unanimously approved, pending acceptance from the Cumberland County Commission. Board member Robert Safdie posed a question after the vote: “What if the step raises were eliminated and use that money to bring the pay up to the state average for our employees? Then year by year, it can be adjusted.” A task force will be established this year by the school system to look at further raises for employees.