By Meg Dickens
The Johnson County Board of Education met on Thursday, January 11th for their monthly meeting. All members were in attendance and ready to start the new year on a good note. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 PM and began with a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Chairman Kenneth Gregg gave the floor over to Dr. Mischelle Simcox and Edna Miller for employee recognition. This month’s honorees are members of the attendance review committee. This committee helps review student cases of five unexcused absences or more. The following men and women were recognized: Johnson County High School (JCHS) Assistant Principal, Maelea Gaylon; Mountain City Elementary Assistant Principal, Mary Ann Robinson; Laurel Elementary Principal, Leon Henley; Johnson County Middle School (JCMS) Assistant Principal, Mechelle Arney; Roan Creek Elementary Assistant Principal Jessie Lang; Shady Valley Principal Dana Smith; Doe Elementary Principal Teresa Stanberry; Courtney Guizzotti from the Department of Children Services, and Courthouse Youth Officer, Cole Gladden.
The agenda from last month’s meeting was approved and the floor was handed over to Chase McGlamery for an update on the high school. Second semester classes have started back this week. On the sports front, baseball practice is back in swing and the basketball teams are all doing well in their conference. Both JCMS and JCHS robotics teams are heading to Kingsport to compete to qualify for the state competition. Both schools already have a team that has qualified. On the educational front, the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department members are working hard towards their goal of offering technical college (TCAT) classes during the evening. The high school has also been informed that they are eligible to reapply for the Gear-Up grant.
The floor was handed over to Dr. Stephen Long for his presentation on the state report card. End of Course (EOC) scores showed Johnson County making great improvements in several areas. More recent data from this fall shows that improvement in Chemistry is continuing to skyrocket. Johnson County’s Three-Eight Percentage on Track was excellent. This is testing given to elementary through middle school students.
Both English Language Arts (ELA) and Science scores beat state averages by approximately four percent and all listed schools except Elizabethton. It is thought this increase is because the American College Testing (ACT ) practice tests are being implemented as early as the eighth grade.
JCHS graduation rates have reached an impressive high. 2017 numbers show a 96.5 percent graduation rate with 60.3 percent of graduates going on to college or technical school. ACT scores dropped slightly due to an increased number of students taking the test. Based on junior day and senior retake day data, 2018 projected scores come in at an average of 21. The number of students scoring a 21 or above this year has gone up by 4.3 percent. This is important because these scores qualify students for the Hope Scholarship.
The board moved on to the final reading of the policy updates. Mike Payne raised a concern about the early graduation policy in relation to CTE jobs. The policy states that these jobs must be 40 hours for the students to be eligible while the average job is 32 hours. This is under principal discretion and has not stopped students from graduating. With this concern settled, the policies were unanimously approved.
The floor was turned over to Tina Lipford to speak about the budget. The numbers for this past month and total expenses were discussed. December sales taxes were down while property taxes were increased from last year. An additional $6,000 was also collected from prior taxes. The board believes that the Abingdon Walmart may be detrimental for sales tax but the KFC and Taco Bell coming to Johnson County would be beneficial.
The board moved on to more general topics. Cameras were installed in five locations around local schools. As of now, they have been installed in all schools except Laurel Elementary, Roan Creek Elementary, and Mountain City Elementary and that will be rectified soon. The bridge at the high school is not making much progress. The crew did not expect the weather. The new bridge has been made and unloaded but the old one remains in place. More will be known after the meeting with TDOT at the end of the month. Chairman Gregg read a thank you card regarding teacher raises then thanked the board for all they do. Board members expressed general well wishes and then the meeting was adjourned.