School board member attends meeting by Web
Published 12:45 am Friday, March 20, 2015
Members of the Carter County Board of Education made history last night as one of the members participated in the meeting via the Internet.
Board member David Buck is ill and was not able to attend Thursday’s meeting at Unaka Elementary School in person, but that did not stop him from fulfilling his elected duties. The school system’s technology department set up a computer tablet connected to the Internet, and Buck took part in the meeting by using the FaceTime application. The app allows users to chat and see real-time video feed across the Internet.
“I believe we may be making history tonight,” board member Kelly Crain said at the beginning of the meeting.
Thursday’s meeting was the first time the board held a meeting where someone participated by video conference. Prior to the meeting, Crain said the board checked state law to ensure Buck’s participation would be legal.
After the meeting started, a microphone was placed in front of the speaker on the tablet so all those in attendance to could hear Buck when he spoke. Buck was able to participate just like the members who were present in person by making motions, commenting during discussions and casting votes.
Crain helped out by operating the tablet during the meeting and turning its camera toward who was speaking so Buck could see them as well as hear them.
As the meeting was concluding, both Crain and Buck praised the work by the school system’s technology staff for making it possible for Buck to take part despite his illness.
During the discussion of new business, Career and Technical Education Director Mickey Taylor informed the board of an offer that could benefit the school system’s agricultural program.
A family approached the school system with an offer to allow the system’s agricultural programs at Unaka High School to use the 26-acre John and Patty Drop Farm located near Unaka Elementary School, Taylor said.
John and Patty Drop died and left the farm to their niece, Frances Meyers, who contacted the school system about using the land.
“The family has an interest in having Unaka’s Future Farmers of America utilizing the land to address hunger in the area,” Taylor said. “This thing has the potential to be huge for our agricultural program.”
The students in the program could raise produce, which could be used by the school’s nutrition program or be donated some to local food banks.
“We could raise some livestock there,” Buck said.
“That is part of the plan,” Taylor responded. “We could raise some livestock, process it at Unaka High School and give it away to the community.”
The offer was made only recently, Taylor said, adding details would have to be worked out between the school system and the family before anything could proceed.
“We don’t know a whole lot about it at this point,” he said. “This just kind of fell in our laps this week.”
Despite not knowing all the details yet, Taylor said he felt reaching an agreement to use the farm would not only benefit the agricultural programs but the entire school system as well.
“It’s endless what we could do with this,” he said.
Crain made a motion to authorize Taylor to work with school system Director Kevin Ward and the board’s attorney to work on an agreement with Meyers regarding the use of the farm. The motion was seconded by board member Craig Davis and passed unanimously on a vote.
In other business, the board approved a one-year contract with District Solutions for the placement of advertisements on the system’s school bus fleet.