Prior to the regularly scheduled school board session, the finance committee met to discuss the school budget. Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Purchasing, Christy Jordan, gave a presentation to the board describing in detail where the school system receives funding and how money is being spent across the county. The finance meeting ended with discussions about contract renewals with independently contracted bus drivers and our contract with Durham School Services. The board agreed to hold a work session on Dec. 28 at 3 PM to further discuss all contracted bussing services. 

The regularly scheduled board meeting began with statements from board members and the superintendent regarding Woodmore Elementary. Steve Highlander, Karitsa Jones, and Kirk Kelly all thanked the community for their continued support and praised Woodmore Principal Brenda Adamson-Cothran for her strength and leadership during this tragedy. A moment of silence was held for the 6 children who lost their lives in the bus crash and prayers were shared for all affected families. There will be a Christmas for Woodmore event on Dec. 17 from 12-4 PM which will include fun activities for the community and presents for over 100 students at Woodmore Elementary.

The Loftis Beta Club was recognized for receiving 1st place in the Power of Tower competition, making them state champions two years in a row. They are qualified to go to Disney World in June to compete nationally. The president of HCEA, Dan Liner, approached to board to discuss the importance of implementing the community schools model in Hamilton County and asked the board to add this to their discussion at their upcoming strategic planning work session in January. Kirsten Johnson, the Harrison Elementary PTA president, addressed the board about the dilapidating conditions at Harrison Elementary. She described hazardous conditions including sewage backup, faulty heating systems, chipping lead paint, and lack of space for classroom activities. District 4 board member, Tiffanie Robinson, agreed to host a work session to prioritize facility repairs, and student board member, D’Andre Anderson, applauded the teachers at Harrison Elementary for continuing to be exemplary educators despite their working conditions.

All items on the agenda were approved which included a vote on the selected calendar for SY 2017-18, the second and final reading of Board Policy 5.305, and the renaming of the PALS Center. Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly walked the school board through the updated TN Report Card available on tn.gov and discussed the iZone plan the school system has begun to implement in the 5 priority schools across Hamilton County. The iZone plan includes strategies such as: increased truancy officers, additional bussing options, a PATHS program to improve college and career readiness through literacy, ACT bootcamp, a WAY program for students who don’t fit into the regular school day, a new mentoring program for new teaches, community school expansion, principal coaches, and a new principals network.

The meeting closed with a discussion about municipalities wanting to breakaway from the Hamilton County school district. Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Lee McDade, has met with one of the municipalities and has offered assistance in investigating the breakaway. Many board members voiced that they believe our system is stronger together and that we should all work to support an informed decision.

The next agenda session will be on January 12th at 5 PM. There will be a work session prior to the meeting at 4 PM to discuss the superintendent selection process with Coleman Lew and Associates.