The Cumberland County Board of Education met in a lengthy session last night.
The meeting started with a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Martin Elementary School 5th grader Maggie Keyes.
NEW LOOK FOR SUMMER FEEDING BUS
Board members learned that the county will receive a grant and a portion going to the cafeteria will be used to wrap the summer feeding bus. This is a picture of what the bus will look like once Outlaw Graphics is finished with it:
PRINCIPAL RECOGNIZED FOR BEING SELECTED TO SERVE ON STATE GROUP
The board then recognized Justin Whittenbarger, principal of Stolen Elementary School, who was selected as one of 52 principals in the state to serve in the inaugural class of the Tennessee Rural Principals Network. The network is one part of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s Transforming School Leadership Initiative, which is a comprehensive approach to improve the preparation, retention, and development of Tennessee’s principals.
DECLARATION OF CONFLICT
Each school meeting, school board attorney Earl Patton reads the Declaration of Conflict and has the board members that it pertains to affirm they will vote in the best interest of the school system. The declaration reads:
Per TCA 49-2-202 Board of Education Members who have relatives (per the statue: relative means: Spouse, parent, parent-in-law, child, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, or any person who resides in the same household as you) employed by the system are asked to raise your hands to identify yourself. “Do you certify that the votes that you make tonight will be in the best interest of the school system, regardless of the effect that your vote may have upon the employment of your relative or relatives?”
The approval of the prior month’s meeting minutes and the agenda for last night’s meeting passed.
One person stepped forward when it came time for community comments. Ron Wiseman, who represented the school bus drivers in Cumberland County, wished to speak about an employee matter. He was quickly stopped by the board chairwoman, Teresa Boston, who told him it was a matter that the director of schools needed to hear first. Wiseman said they are six bus drivers short, three others were about to leave and action needed to be taken on this. The meeting then proceeded.
SCHOOL BUILDING AND PROJECTS UPDATE
Kim Chamberlin gave the board an update on building projects going on in the school system. The inside stadium renovations at Cumberland County High School is progressing well. Work on the outside of the stadium is expected to start at a later date. The track around the football field will be redone after the football season is completed. The construction of the new Crab Orchard Elementary School is going well despite the rain that fell in the past few days.
SCHOOL BUS GARAGE SHOOTING INCIDENT REPORT
District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway and Interim Crossville Police Chief Chris Kendrick addressed the Cumberland County Board of Education last night about school safety. They also spoke of the recent shooting at the school bus garage.
The incident left Joy Nostrom and Mark Gunter deceased. The alleged shooter, 74-year-old Warren Nostrom, was treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound then later arrested on two counts of first-degree murder.
School board member Robbie Safdie asked Dunaway and Kendrick how they rated the school systems response after the shooting took place.
While details of the shooting could not be discusses, Dunaway said the school system did an outstanding job of how it was handled in the aftermath.
“However, there are always things that can be evaluated in the face of tragedy,” said Dunaway.
The school system was notified of the shooting at 2:35 p.m. that day. The school bus garage was locked down leaving several buses and drivers unable to go on their routes. A few buses that left prior to the shooting doubled up their duties and got all the students home by 5:20 p.m., just an hour later that the usual last drop off.
When asked why no alert went out to parents, Kendrick said two reasons went to that decision. One, the shooting was over in a couple of minutes and there was no more threat to the school system. Second, an alert would have caused a panic as the event was already over by the very short time an alert could be sent out. While the shooting took place at the bus garage on Genesis Road, there was no threats to students including at nearby Stone Memorial High School and Stone Elementary School.
Kendrick said he has suggestions to make safety better at school facilities but would not speak of them in an open public setting. A private work session will be held soon with the school board, Dunaway and Kendrick to go over those ideas. The closed meeting is allowed under state law if the school board is discussing security procedures of the school system.
CHAIRMAN, VICE-CHAIRMAN, PARLIAMENTARIAN CHOSEN
The school board voted and selected officials. Teresa Boston will serve as chairman, Jim Inman as vice-chairman and Rebecca Hamby as parliamentarian. Robbie Safdie will continue being the TLN representative and Tabitha Webb is the recorder for the school board.
TSBA FALL DISTRICT MEETING REPORT
Members of the Cumberland County School Board attended a fall district meeting September 13, 2018 in McMinn County. Tom Netherton received Level I boardmanship, Teresa Boston was presented Level 2, and Josh Stone achieved Level 4.
DISCUSSION OF POLICIES PERTAINING TO EMERGENCIES AND SECURITY
Board member Robbie Safdie requested this to be placed on the agenda but chose to send it back to the policy committee as a work session will be scheduled to discuss the matter further.
TSBA CODE OF ETHICS PLEDGE
The Cumberland County Board of Education is trying to attain a Board of Distinction status and to accomplish that, the TSBA Code of Ethics must be in place. The board last night unanimously approved the pledge that reads:
- I will at all times think in terms of “children first,” always determining other important things according to how they affect education and training of children.
- • I will seek to provide equal educational opportunities for all children regardless of ability, race, color, sex, creed or location of residence.
- • I will endeavor to appraise fairly both the present and future educational needs of the community and to support improvements as finances permit.
- • I will represent at all times the entire school community and refuse to represent special interests or partisan policies.
- • I will endeavor to keep the community informed about the progress and needs of the schools.
- • I will support the employment of those persons best qualified to serve as employees and insist on a regular and impartial evaluation of all staff.
- • I will support and protect personnel in performance of their duties.
- • I will not criticize employees publicly but will make such criticism to the director of schools for investigation and action if necessary.
- • I will recognize that authority rests only with the Board in official meetings and that the individual member has no legal status outside of such meetings.
- • I will refuse to make promises as to how I will vote on a matter, which should properly come before the Board as a whole.
- • I will make decisions only after full discussion of matters at a board meeting.
- • I will respect the opinion of other members and will accept the principle of the “majority rule.”
- • I will support full administrative authority as well as responsibility for the director of schools to properly discharge all professional duties.
- • I will support director of schools’ accountability for working and requiring staff to work within the framework of policies set up by the Board.
- • I will refer all complaints and concerns to the director of schools.
- • I will inform myself about my duties and responsibilities and current educational issues by individual study and through participation in programs providing needed information, such as those sponsored by my state and national school boards associations.
- • I will avoid being placed in a position of conflict of interest, and will refrain from using my board position for personal or partisan gain.
2017-2018 DATA PRESENTATION
Dr. Rebecca Wood, Chief Academic Officer for the Cumberland County School System, gave the 2017-2018 Data Presentation. The information was broke down into five areas: achievement, growth, ACT, Ready Graduate, Chronic Absenteeism, graduation rate, and district and school determinations:
The board then held a discussion about the pay for a human resource supervisor that will be hired soon.
The board approved an agreement with the UCHRA, a partnering agreement with the University of Tennessee, and a memorandum of cooperation for the redesign of instructional leadership program at Austin Peay State University.
WORK ETHIC DISTINCTION STANDARDS
The school board voted to accept a Work Ethic Distinction Standards. This is a program where students who meet the rigorous requirements of the Work Ethic Distinction Standard will be given an interview for employment at participating businesses in Cumberland County. It does not mean a guaranteed position but an interview. The requirement for students is as follows:
TEACHER INSURANCE REVISITED
Newly elected school board member Jim Inman placed this on the agenda to re-visit the topic of insurance plans for teachers. The previous board selected a plan earlier this year. With open enrollment coming up October 1, some were not comfortable with selecting a different option without research. School board member Tony Brock said, “you are asking us to make a decision in a couple of days when the previous board had months to research this and vote for one.”
Board member Tom Netherton took the matter further. “Let’s get teachers some raises along with the benefits they deserve. The upcoming board retreat in January can be used to talk about this in detail. The raises and benefits needs to be one of the top topics discussed at the retreat.
Board Chairwoman Teresa Boston then said they need to look at where the salaries for teachers are now and see how competitive they are to other counties. “We need to then work out a benefit and salary package the school system can afford,” added Boston.
The board then voted to table the insurance discussion brought up by Inman until a later date.
The board then approved several policies on first and second reading and the meeting was adjourned.