Carter County BOE approves $100K for Chemistry lab

Published 10:53 pm Monday, September 20, 2021

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The chemistry lab at the Northeast State campus took another step last week as the Carter County School Board pledged $100,000 towards renovations.

The lab is part of the CTE Centralization project for Carter County Schools and will allow students to receive instruction without having to travel outside the county.

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“Having the chemistry lab will allow Carter County students, as well as Northeast State students, to complete their labs here in Carter County without having to drive to Blountville,” said Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby. “It will also give the students the credit they need to be considered for employment at Eastman and Nuclear Fuel Services.”

The $250,000 project will be funded by the school board’s contribution; $100,000 from the Carter County Commission; and $50,000 from the Three-Star Award the county received earlier this year.

Carter County School’s Director Dr. Tracy McAbee shared with the board about the importance of what is being done on the campus in regards to the CTE Centralization project to meet the needs of the students.  The input was provided by surveys asking what students planned on doing when they graduated high school.

“In our meetings, we started to look at the surveys and see what students wanted to do,” McAbee said. “Welding popped out as the number one thing students were looking at while the Cosmetology demand was there as well.

“LPN was another thing that students wanted to get started in high school even though they wouldn’t be able to finish it. The fourth one was Phlebotomy which is paying $13 to $14 per hour. We are looking at possibly doing Pharm Tech and Phlebotomy together.”

McAbee said one of the most important things was making sure to put guidelines in place to uphold the school system’s integrity to TCAT and Northeast State.

In addition to the CTE update, the board also reviewed employee insurance coverage costs, which increased by 2 percent. The board voted to pay the additional $137,172 for the employees. Currently, the board pays 80 percent of the total cost.

McAbee reiterated that the board is obligated to cover only 45 percent of insurance costs but has opted to pay more.  “We may not be able to sustain that if the insurance continues to rise,” board member Keith Bowers said.

Some board members also expressed disappointment with the insurance quotes provided. “I am really disappointed in Five Points as our insurance broker. They should be doing a better job of advising us,” said Danny Ward.

The BOE also voted to approve eight COVID days for the 2021-2022 school year. In doing so, those teachers who had to use personal time or sick days for COVID can have those days applied retroactively to the COVID days that were approved.

McAbee said  ESSER 2.0 funds would be used to give these days back. The days are only in effect until the end of the school year.

Prior to the start of the meeting, Tony Garland was nominated and re-elected as the chairman of the school board and Kelly Crain received the nod for the co-chairman.

During the director report, McAbee noted the following:
– The increase in sub pay that was recently approved added 20 subs to the school system.
– There have been 73 employees out for COVID to date resulting in a total of 492 days missed.
– ESSER 1.0 was approved with $70,000 of carry-over money which the school system wants to use to hire a school nurse for Unaka and Cloudland which means that each school would have a nurse. Those jobs will be posted.
– September is Bus Driver Appreciation Month and he took time to thank all the Carter County bus drivers for all they do.