By Lacy Hilliard
The first Johnson County School Board meeting of the new year had a full agenda and several items in need of board consideration.
Paige Campbell Johns of Appalachia Service Project took the podium at the January meeting in an attempt to gain approval for a summer project in Johnson County. Appalachia Service Project is a Christian volunteer organization dedicated to providing home repairs for low-income families. Last year, Appalachia Service Project worked in the Trade community, providing home repairs to several families. Though the organization felt their efforts in Trade were successful, Johns informed the board that most of the requests for help are coming from the Laurel Bloomery community. Therefore, the organization sought approval to utilize Laurel Elementary School to house the 80 teenagers and program coordinators for a duration of five weeks in the summer. Board member Howard Carlton expressed a concern regarding the contract between Appalachia Service Project and the Johnson County School District: Im uncomfortable with some of the language used in the contract. It holds the school liable should volunteers be displaced due to pest infestation. Right now our schools are in top shape and if a pest infestation occurred, I would most likely say that it was due to (whomever) was using the facility at the time. Johns stated that the new clause in the contract was due to a bad experience with another school district and that she would be glad to approach the lawyer for the organization in an attempt to change the contract to ease the concerns of the board. The contract also stated that Appalachia Service Project would be responsible for paying a $6,000 lease to the Johnson County School District and Johns went on to say, We really want to work in Johnson County and we will be respectful of any boundaries set forth. Gerald Buckles asked Johns who would be responsible for the cleanliness of the building, to which Johns responded, The volunteers have daily chores in order to keep cleanliness. We hold high standards for ourselves. Kevin Long stated that due to Howard Carltons concerns about the contract, he felt more discussion was needed on this matter before it could gain board approval.
In discussions that occurred following the board meeting, the board decided to deny the request for use of Laurel Elementary School by Appalachia Service Project. When reached for comment, Howard Carlton told The Tomahawk, Weve worked really hard to get our schools clean and in good shape for our students, and Im not interested in seeing 80 kids living in the school. Both Howard Carlton and Director of Schools Morris Woodring said the volunteers of Appalachia Service Project had utilized school facilities several years ago and there were some issues. Though neither Woodring nor Carlton could recall specific incidents, all members of the board felt it in the best interest of the school district to deny Appalachia Service Projects request.
Also discussed at the meeting was a break-in that occurred at the Vocational School during winter break. School security guard Dave Quave reported the break-in on the morning of December 30. Upon arrival of the police, it was discovered that many items were damaged including computer monitors, a Smart Board, and a projector to name a few. The vandals also busted the glass out of various doors throughout the building and even used a torch from the automotive department to break into a safe that held cash as well as iPads. The total amount of damage done nor a breakdown of stolen items was available at press time. However, Chief of Police Denver Church told The Tomahawk, This matter is still under investigation, and also said the names (of alleged perpetrators) have not yet been released.
Gaining board approval at the January meeting was the revised agreement between the Energy Efficiency Council and the Johnson County School District. Led by Lisa Mullins, the council hopes that by making needed recommended revisions to the agreement, the district will be in better standing to receive energy-related grants. Also approved were the recommended (TSBA) Tennessee School Board Association changes to board policy in regards to the treatment of sports related injuries and concussions. Jimmy Crowder spoke to the board about the changes stating, The only change is that parents, coaches, and students must now fill out a form about head injuries that will be kept on file. The policy already in place prevents athletes from continuing to play when theyre suspected of a head injury.
The January meeting was concluded with a bit of news that surprised the board. Johnson County Director of Schools Morris Woodring announced that he will retire effective June 30 of this year after eight years as Director of Schools and 35 years in education.
In closing, board members spoke about Woodrings retirement. Howard Carlton stated, Well miss Mr. Woodring and we wish him well in retirement. Gerald Buckles stated, Mr. Woodrings done a wonderful job and he has a great staff. Kevin Long also went on to stay that Johnson County High School teacher Stacey Reece is retiring and Were losing a good teacher and we wish her luck in the future.
After it was assured that no further matters were to be called before the board, the meeting was adjourned.
By Lacy Hilliard