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Carter County School Board conducts August meeting

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton
The Carter County School Board met Thursday evening in their regularly scheduled August meeting.

During the Director’s Report section of the meeting, Dr. Tracy McAbee informed the BOE that the Middle College is off to a robust start to begin the school year.

As far as the schools in the system, the Director advised that everyone was putting their shoulder to the door and doing a tremendous job as well despite the COVID once again being a thorn in everyone’s flesh as COVID numbers continue to rise region-wide.

With the sickness hampering both students and staff, Dr. McAbee said that a good job has been done in covering open classes for teachers who have been out and that a couple of the schools are getting close to not being able to cover the classrooms.

He also advised that extra cleaning and spraying as custodians are coming back in on Wednesday evenings to do extra cleaning.

There are several part-time cooking positions that are needed to be filled along with more subs needed in the same capacity.

A gentleman was present asking to be heard by the board but due to the process of calling into the Carter County Board of Education secretary and asking to have their name placed on the agenda to be recognized to speak for five minutes during the meeting.

He was allowed to voice his concern toward the end of the meeting. Anyone who wishes to speak to the board needs to be aware of the process so they can be recognized on the agenda.

The BOE also approved the SRO MOU with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department which currently can guarantee at least 10 officers at this time with a total of 16 needed. Ten of the positions will be paid by the school system with the other six positions covered by the county.

Currently, there are not a lot of people applying for positions within the department which is lending itself to the shortage.

Dr. McAbee also informed the board that he had received a 12-page written proposal from Five Points which had appeared before the board during their recent workshop and shared about a potential health clinic possibility for employees of the school system.

He advised that the issue needed to be delayed until the next meeting so everyone will have time to review the proposal.

One of the potential issues will be locating a physical location where such a clinic could be placed.

The board also voted to select an architect for the Hunter Elementary school project with Danny Ward recommending the board stay local to support local businesses.

In other business, the BOE approved the recommendations of School Board Transportation Director Wayne Sams for a pay increase for substitutes and drivers who take students on field trips.

The elephant in the room surrounded the current rise in COVID and masks requirements.

Dr. McAbee advised that with Governor Bill Lee’s recent legislation that counties couldn’t put a mask mandate in place that even by putting a mandate in place in the school system, there is the option for parents to opt their children out of wearing masks which would basically put the system where it is now.

There are no options for virtual learning available as was in place in the last school year. However, if a student is out for COVID, they may be able to go to Canvas to keep up their work until they can return to school if they have internet availability.

However, teachers are also currently printing out packets for students out of school so they can continue with their work until they return. Teachers will have to use personal and sick time should they be out with COVID.

The bottom line according to Dr. McAbee in regard to masks is to do what the state is telling the county what they can do.