Carter County Board of Education continued discussion on future plans during workshop

Published 4:04 pm Friday, August 14, 2020

The Carter County School Board held a discussion-filled workshop via ZOOM on Thursday evening. 
Among items discussed on the agenda included speaker Dr. Keith Brewer, a graduate of UT and Vanderbilt, who had conducted a financial study with Hawkins County Schools. 
Brewer explained to the board his work in observing various documents and interviewing those within the school system in efforts to help reduce expenditures. Despite technical difficulties, board members were able to ask Brewer the amount of time and money this would take to have completed should he end up doing a study with them. He said it would be done by around Christmas with interviews as well, however, his work with observations would be 5-10 days. The cost would not exceed set amounts by the board.
In updates throughout the workshop, COVID-19 preparedness was a recurring topic. 
Tracy McAbee, director of schools, believed postponing schools by a week was beneficial to teachers. 
“I’m so thankful the board, and your foresight, postponed for a week, we surveyed those teachers and 85 percent said they needed more time,” he said. “Everything is still not great. We still have some content issues being uploaded, the folk here are doing great at getting that ready, but we are much more prepared getting ready Aug. 17 than we would’ve been Aug. 10.”
Among discussions surrounding schools reopening involved the amount of devices available and proposals to aid students should they have issues. McAbee stated that based on surveys sent out to parents/guardians to see who could use their own until more are ordered, the school system appears to be in good shape. Additionally, work to allow students to be connected to those who can aid in technical difficulties is being worked on. 
Budget amendments provided minimal discussion during the workshop and will be voted on at the next meeting.
Some minimal changes to the school calendar were mentioned such as a virtual school day on Nov. 4 rather than being closed after elections.
As all items on the agenda were met, Tony Garland, vice chairman, opened the floor to additional discussions on COVID in regards to school and sports.
Discussions began with Dr. LaDonna Stout-Boone, board member, discussing the issues surrounding reopening. This included the repercussions of people signing waivers to allow students to return to in-person learning and the legalities with it. 
McAbee joined in the discussion with a mention of asking for another week or so of 25 percent capacity in-person learning after next week. 
He said he believes it would be beneficial to teachers as it allows them more time to prepare for virtual and also see which students are in need of resources.
“The first week, we find out who they are, the second week, we get them back again so we can give them things,” said McAbee. 
Among the discussion that followed involved finding out which teachers would want to opt for such options in the future of possible virtual, in-person or both types of learning. 
Danny Ward, a board member, commended last week’s work in making decisions to postpone school and choices made thus far. 
“I think our board meeting last week, I think we did make some sound decisions and we need to continue making sound decisions,” said Ward. “We have to please the entire community, not just certain groups.”
To watch the full workshop, go to the Carter County Schools Facebook page under videos. The next board meeting held for online viewing will be on Aug. 20 at 5:30 p.m.

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