By Meg Dickens

The Johnson County Board of Education met on Thursday, December 14th for their monthly meeting. There was a bustling crowd and no shortage of Christmas spirit in the boardroom. Several board members were decked out in Christmas attire from their Christmas party. The meeting was called to order at 6:01 PM and began with a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Johnson County Board of Education was recognized for its excellent performance with the Board of Distinction Award. The plaque was presented by Tennessee School Boards Association’s Northeast Director and Washington County Board of Education Member, Todd Ganger. The Award of Distinction is a prestigious award based on excellence in four key areas: planning, policy, promotion, and board development.
The board planned a surprise musical program from Shady Valley Elementary. However, the students were unable to make it due to illness. In place of this, Lorie Plank and Stephen Long lead the room in a verse of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.
Chairman Kenneth Gregg turned the floor over to Emogene South for employee and student recognition. This month’s spotlight was on outstanding Response to Intervention (RTI) math and language specialists and their most improved students. The RTI program exists to help struggling students reach their potential. The following specialists were recognized: Missy Timbs from Doe; Dana Smith from Shady; LaDonna Trivette from Laurel; Linda Mendenhall and Carol Stout from Mountain City; Shelly Henson from Roan Creek; Tamra Taylor from Roan Creek for English Language Arts (ELA); Kristie Chausse from JCMS; Aleta Gentry, Teresa Neimann, and Beverly Gambill from JCHS. The following students were recognized for their hard work and excellence in the program: Rain Williams, Allison Sutherland, Amiliana Salvator, Serenity Jones, Abigail Dickens, Sarah Morris, Ridge Buff, Emily Potter, and Preston Logan Miller.
The agenda was approved and the floor was then turned over to Chase McGlamery for an update on Johnson County High School. The students were active as always. The annual FFA dinner and auction brought in approximately $3,600. Several clubs, such as the National Honor Society and Student Council, are sponsoring families in the community for Christmas. The last day of school for this semester was December 15th and second semester schedules are now available to students. The basketball games will continue throughout break.
The board did its final reading of the recommended policy changes discussed last month. All passed unanimously. Discussion moved on to approving a contract between Johnson County Schools and Scribbles Software (ScribOrder). This software simply brings transcript capabilities into the 21st century. Transcripts would be free to current students. Dr. Simcox highly recommended it due to its efficiency and ability to bring money back into the community. Recommended updates to the Instructional Services Policy and Students Policy were read and discussed. These included an updated social media policy, an amendment to the early graduation guidelines, and an update to the attendance policy regarding notes. An additional salary lane pertaining to nurse practitioners was proposed and approved.
The floor was turned over to Tina Lipford to address the budget as the numbers for this past month and total expenses were discussed. Discussion moved on to the Pre-k and Headstart calendar budget approval and it was approved unanimously. A decision was reached on how to use the UTRUST grant funds. After extended outside discussion, it was determined the funds would be best used by replacing outdated teacher computers.
The board is working to get a technical college (TCAT) in Johnson County. Stephen Long met with Senator Lundberg about the possibility on December 13th and it reportedly went very well. The school would operate from the current vocational school and offer classes in HVAC, electrical, welding, nursing, and auto/diesel. Numbers show there is already a large portion of the students needed for these programs. Senator Lundberg has added a lane onto the coming year’s budget for this cause. Due to Tennessee Promise, students could attend for free. Not only is this school great for young adults, it is also a benefit to the community. Our sister school currently running in Elizabethton shows a minimum of 88 percent in job placement and 100 percent placement of program graduates. The Career and Technical Education Program has provisionally been approved for a partnership with Mountain States Health Alliance. Students will have access to site based learning and travel expense compensation.
The final point covered was the Tennessee Department of Transportation bridge construction at Johnson County High School. Adam’s Construction placed signs around the surrounding area, including the church. Due to confusion, steps were taken to scale them back. The barriers were placed for construction but it seems unlikely that demolition will start until after Christmas. There is still a lot of work required to complete construction.
The meeting wrapped up with more discussion of the Award of Distinction. The members were thanked for all their hard work and Serena Warren was thanked in particular for her part in handling the paperwork. The members wished everyone a Merry Christmas and the meeting was adjourned.