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A long time coming… Director of Schools VanHuss updates board on T.A. Dugger project, other events

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
The Elizabethton City School Board met on Thursday for their regularly scheduled April meeting in the Mack Pierce Board Room with a light agenda.

During the Director’s Report segment, Director of City Schools Richard VanHuss updated the board that summer school plans to help with learning are currently being put together and those will be brought forward during the May board meeting.

Also, Director VanHuss said that the ESSER 3.0 funding application had been released on Thursday. There have been meetings with each school principal to discuss what they would like to see in regards to the funds to help make up for the learning loss from the ESSER 3.0 funds.

He shared that each principal put their thoughts together independently but when they were gathered, many of the same ideas had been listed.

Director VanHuss also shared that the T.A. Dugger project is moving forward as part of those funds.

“Mr. Weems is working on updating those designs,” said VanHuss. “We are really excited about the possibilities there. It looks like we are going to be able to get more classrooms than we originally thought.

“It’s been a long time coming all the way back to 13 to 14 years ago when we started that process and it’s exciting to think that it’s that close to being a reality.”

Other items shared by Director VanHuss included informing the board that the teachers had received their bonuses in the April paycheck for those eligible.

Also, the roof renovations are nearing completion at T.A. Dugger with some guttering work all that remains.

Elizabethton High School graduation was set for Saturday, May 22, at 10 a.m. at Citizens Bank Stadium. Information will be forthcoming on how attendance will be handled in regards to social distancing at the stadium.

The T.A. Dugger Jr. High Band will also be presenting a concert on Thursday, April 22, at 7 p.m. inside Brown-Childress Stadium.

City Council liaison Michael Simerly shared with the board about the upcoming Trashercise pickup on Saturday and encouraged all of the students in the school system to come out and take part in the event to help clean up along the Tweetsie Trail.

Simerly also advised the board that any student who wanted to be a part of this year’s re-enactment of the Liberty Play will be paid for participating in the event.

During the regular agenda portion of the meeting, the board gave approval to the purchase of two instructional programs for the Cyclone Learning Camps which are the Sonday System-Reading RTI Program in the amount of $25,109 ($23,172 for program kits and $1,937 for teacher training) and Illustrative Mathematics – Tier I Math Program at a cost of $16,050.

That brought the cost of both programs to $41,159.

Also, the board approved the purchase of the Canvas Learning Management System and User Training from Instructure in the amount of $60,675 using funding from ESSER 2.0.

“Our teachers and staff spent a tremendous amount of time trying to use Google Classroom when COVID-19 hit which was the online platform that we used with distance learning and delivering that instruction,” Director VanHuss said. “In the course of that, it is a great program, but we found its taxing on the teachers.

“A lot of things are not user-friendly for the teachers such as linking up grades and things like that. Canvas is a significant step up from that and will be a better platform altogether and make things easier on the teachers as well.”

The BOE approved the three-year purchase of CASE Mastery Connect Benchmark assessment platform user ESSER 2.0 funds in the amount of $82,542.

Finally, an additional assistant volleyball coach was approved for Elizabethton High School and the board gave approval for the creation of a Summer Band Coordinator for the 2020-2021 school year with the current transition of replacing current band director Perry Elliott, who is retiring, and the hiring of a new band director which should happen within the upcoming week.

The next City School Board meeting is slated for Thursday, May 20, at 5:30 p.m. in the Mack Pierce Board Room.