I wanted to update you on recent happenings by the Loudon County Board of Education as well as some of my positions on current issues.
First, at the previous meeting, it was decided to move forward with Phase 1b of the building program. This would include a combination of the current Loudon Elementary and Fort Loudoun Middle School into one Loudon Elementary School campus. Of course, about 12 of the 20 pennies of the tax rate have been used on Phase 1a of the building program leaving about 8 pennies for future construction. The county commission has indicated that they will not touch these pennies for the operating budget of the county or for other items besides education, and I hope that they keep their word on this promise.
The Board feels that the Loudon Elementary campus construction is at the top of the list in importance followed by some renovations of Loudon High School and some focus on the northern side of the county. At this time, the plan consists of the Loudon Elementary campus combination and renovation, Loudon High School additions and renovations, renovations and additions at Highland Park Elementary, and traffic solutions to the Eaton/North campus. As this continues to develop, I will continue to update here. I believe that it is important that we move with both urgency and caution with the building program to make sure we are making good progress while also ensuring that we are doing everything appropriately.
Also, a retirement incentive program is on the agenda once again. I support the program because it will reduce cost and be fiscally responsible. At the last workshop, I brought up that any employee that takes the retirement incentive should give up their seniority on the salary scale. This means that if for some reason a staff member came back under contract for a period of time, they would come in on the salary scale with zero years experience. I made sure that this was added to the resolution for the program to ensure that any retiring employees would truly save the system money. This will be discussed further at this Thursday’s meeting at 7pm at the Courthouse Annex.
The issue of public discussion and input regarding items on and not on the agenda has been hotly debated recently. This is now finally going to come before the policy committee on Thursday. After that, it should come up for Board consideration. As I have previously stated, I believe in the public right to speak at meetings about items on the agenda before agenda items are taken up, and then about to speak about items not on the agenda at the end of the meeting. I believe this allows the best communication between the Board and the public.
Some have also asked me about the issue of a Board retreat recently. I have indicated to Director Vance and publicly indicated that a retreat is a good thing for the Board to utilize, but that I am in favor of it being held locally (such as at LCTC) where it would not cost the Board and it could be used as a long workshop type session. I believe that a majority of the Board will prefer to have one at another location, though. Whichever direction be the will of the Board, I will participate in the retreat and represent my district. I have clearly indicated my preference on the matter, and I am but one vote.
Recently, I have been to the TSBA Annual Convention with our Board. It was a good experience with educational sessions on legal issues facing school systems, the changing state standards, and recent changes to state law and how these changes affect our system. It was a rewarding and educational convention.
I was also honored to have the opportunity to pronounce the words for the Loudon County Spelling Bee this past week as well. It was a wonderful opportunity, and I am so proud of students across the county. They are doing a great job!
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to e-mail me or call me at 865-635-6193.
I also urge you to check out www.LocalWeatherTN.com for any of the latest weather information as well as my profile at Examiner.com where I am a freelance meteorology contributor.