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Johnson County schools back in session

Johnson County Schools will not be adding seat belts to its buses any time soon. The House of Representatives is currently reviewing legislation on the matter nationwide. Photo by Meg Dickens.

By Meg Dickens

A strong foundation is necessary for any successful structure. Education is no exception. That is why Director of Schools, Mischelle Simcox is focusing on this approach for the 2019-2020 school year.
Now that summer vacation is over; it is time for 2,059 local students to head back to the hallowed halls of learning.
“The beginning of a new school year reminds us that the future holds infinite possibilities,” said Simcox. “We are getting ready to start a brand new school year filled with excitement, hope, and possibilities.”
Johnson County Schools is in the process of several updates. The Johnson County Summer Reading Book Bus launched during this past summer and was a great success. Teachers can use the bus for additional classroom materials during the school year.
Simcox hopes to install additional School Resource Officers (SROs) at every school in the district. According to the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), an SRO is an officer deployed in a community-oriented policing designation to work with one or more schools. Whether this comes to fruition depends on grant applications currently being processed.
“We are always researching strategies and programs that will benefit our students. We make sure that all of our students are college and career ready,” said Simcox. “Safety is always a top priority, and we are constantly searching out grant opportunities to help provide our staff with additional resources.”
In higher education news, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) building at JCHS is in construction. The auto-diesel mechanic program will be available to students and adults in the Johnson County area starting in spring 2020. The Perkins Reserve Grant will fund industry certification tests for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department at the high school. Additional grants awarded to Johnson County include the 21st Century Grant, LEAPS, Gear
Up, Additional Targeted
Support and Improvement (ATSI), and the Adaptive Learning Technology (ADLT) Grant.
The State is providing additional funds for safety upgrades for the 2019-2020 school year. The regular safety budget goes towards maintaining precautions such as the Raptor Technologies program. This program allows schools to screen for sex offenders and custody violations and alerts officials and first responders during an emergency.
One safety concern for many is school buses. School bus safety is a prevalent issue of discussion. Arguments on seat belt requirements for these vehicles are ongoing. House Representative Josh Gottheimer proposed Congressional Act H.R. 2792, known as the Secure Every Child Under the Right Equipment Standards Act of 2019, to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on May 16, 2019. There has not been a decision as of yet. The previous bill with this goal failed.
Johnson County Schools will not currently install seatbelts. According to Johnson County Schools maintenance personnel, adding seatbelts would increase costs by approximately $20,000. They have, however, added cameras to bus arms for additional safety. Bus
recordings last for three
days, but officials can pull
this video if notified of an issue.
“I am excited about
beginning the 2019-
2020 school year, and I am looking forward to having
all of our students back
in class,” said Sicox. “I hope that
everyone is ready for the excitement of the new school year.”