The Claiborne County School Board discussed two possibly controversial items during the recent meeting, held at Clairfield School - a possible cut in positions, and a policy that could possibly be contrary to the state’s Open Meetings Law.
During the director’s report at the end of the regular agenda, board member Bill Turner asked Director of Schools Connie Holdway to explain about positions that may be changed or cut due to budget shortfalls. Holdway explained that the funding coming in for the next school year is less than usual. In years past, the board has not had to layoff personnel; however, this year some positions are being cut or changed.
“We’re trying to hold on to as many as we can,” said Holdway, explaining further that they may not necessarily cut jobs, but people may be offered different positions in order to save money.
“We certainly don’t want people to be left without jobs,” she said. “We are trying our best to make sure everyone has a job.”
Five retirements will be absorbed, she said.
“We’re trying to do the same with less money,” said Chesney, to which Holdway agreed.
Holdway presented a new multimedia policy for the board meetings, which was recommended by the Tennessee School Board Association. The policy presented requires the agenda, materials and reports be available to the media upon request and for the chairman of the board and/or the director to be available after the meeting to answer questions for the media. The new policy was recommended to replace a policy approved in 2007, which stated that the media had to have permission from the board to have a camera in the meeting. That policy was deemed illegal because of the Tennessee Open Meetings Law.
“Because it is an open meeting, you can’t prohibit the media,” said county attorney Jim Estep.
Although the older policy was illegal, some board members wanted to add even more restrictions to it.
“I’d like to add the word ‘citizens’ to it and require them to have permission as well,” said board member Dave Chesney.
“We need to adopt what’s legal,” said Holdway.
“I think we need to be able to keep the media out,” said board member Bill Turner, adding that the media can “cause a ruckus.”
Board chairman Tim Duncan suggested that the policy be rewritten to consider social media and the issues the board members raised and they tabled the policy approval.
In other business, the board approved a list of teachers to be apprentice teachers for a third year, upon recommendation of the principals. They also heard that the Race for School Health and donations from area citizens and businesses raised $2,650 for the walking trail at Midway School.
The board approved a proposal from county Nutrition Director Jennifer Hernon to take bids for serving lines to extend the salad bars at both high schools.
The board approved leaves of absence for Rebecca Baker and Andrea Lakins. Resignations were accepted from Mindy Blocker and Hank Williams.
The board approved a request from the Tri-State Youth Choir to use school buses.
“This is one of the best things we can do for our kids,” said Chesney. “If you haven’t been to see them, you need to go. They are wonderful.”
In the director’s report, Holdway told the board and audience that testing has been completed in the system and there was good attendance.
“The students have done a great job,” she said, “and the teachers and staff made it as positive an experience as possible.”
The next meeting of the school board meeting will be June 14 at Ellen Myers at 7 p.m.