By Meg Dickens
There have been a lot of questions about the Johnson County School system’s insurance brokerage decision. The decision went through an extended delay because of questions and concerns. Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor and Director of Accounts and Budgets Russell Robinson came to the July board meeting to assuage concerns about the county brought up in the June session.
The original thought on a possible change came up right around when COVID hit. According to Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox, a potential broker was supposed to have made a presentation at the first canceled meeting during the pandemic. The board tabled the original motion and decided to appoint an insurance committee because it was something they believed should come from those affected. This 17-person committee made of Johnson County teachers looked over the information once presentations happened, and the majority ruled for a switch to Five Points. It is the same entity previously accused of bias from Board Member Gary Matheson.
As was mentioned in the previous article, the main stopping point for board members in June was new information that Matheson reported from the county, including hiring a new employee, added strain on the county, and a refusal for the county to change.
“That statement is correct in the long-term sense that we were looking at a long-term strategy,” Robinson clarified Matheson’s claims about hiring a new employee. “Depending on the volume that picks up, potentially, somewhere down the road, it could require an additional person in my office under my supervision. At this point, that is not the case. Like I stated to Dr. Long and Dr. Simcox, I’m treating the school system like any other entity in the county. I’m making the same commitment to you that I make to the county, the highway department, the sheriff’s department, and any other department in the county. If you’re making a change, we’re going to make that change work, and we’ll move forward with the best that we can.”
Both Robinson and Taylor assured the board that the county could and would make the board’s change work. However, Robinson believes the county’s cost will rise with the change because the original deal included both entities, which meant a larger “pool” of people. While on the subject of Matheson’s claims, Taylor denied that he opposed the Johnson County School Board’s potential decision, stating that the only conversation he had on the subject was about budget implications.
“I would like the record to reflect from your last meeting that I did not inform anyone that I was for or against Mark III or Five Points,” Taylor addressed the board when questioned by Matheson after the motion passed four-to-one. “I had not had a conversation with anybody about that. I’ve not attended any of your meetings where you’ve had presentations from those companies that came to talk about that. The only conversation I’ve had is with Mr. Robinson about the impact it would have on our budget.”
After the meeting concluded, a witness reports that Matheson confronted Taylor outside of Central Office. It was reportedly purely verbal. Nothing else is known at this time. For more information about Johnson County Schools, visit jocoed.net. Find out more about this issue in the previous article, published June 16. Watch board meetings live or in the archives on the Johnson County Schools TN Video Youtube channel.