County School Board continues conversation about consolidation Thursday

The tail-end of the Carter County School Board workshop got heated Thursday evening as the conversation about possible consolidation continued.

“We have been cutting fat, but not waste,” Danny Ward said.

The workshop followed last week’s workshop, during which County Schools Superintendent Kevin Ward put forth the idea of getting a Research Funding Proposal to bring an independent organization to do a study on the school system and come up with several options on how to solve the county’s continuing financial problems. On the list of possible solutions are forms of consolidation.

“We did a study like this in 2012, and we did nothing with it,” Danny Ward said.

Kevin Ward said the 2012 study involved internal politics, as it was done by two of the board members at the time. Further, he said the then-board did not even reach a consensus on whether the study should happen in the first place. Consulting an outside group, he said, eliminates that concern while providing long-term solutions as opposed to taking action without such research.

“You will only get a consensus with an unbiased opinion,” Kevin Ward said.

Kevin Ward’s proposed timeline says this external organization will collect data from September through December, and then provide the board with a list of options in January 2020.

Danny Ward said spending money on a study is pointless if the board does not act on the data presented, like they did in 2012.

“We are protecting people’s jobs without making a decision,” he said.

The two briefly discussed a supposed lack of communication in regards to the RFP.

“How many sessions have we had with us included in this conversation?” Danny Ward asked.

Kevin Ward responded by saying he did try to contact Danny Ward several times over the past week, but Danny Ward was too busy to speak.

“All it would have taken was to take a look at [what I sent you] and make a phone call,” Kevin Ward said.

Ultimately, no consensus was reached during the workshop, and the conversation about a possible research study will continue in their next meeting Tuesday.

In other conversations, the board discussed in more detail their plan to replace eight county school buses in five years. Wayne Sams said he worked on spacing out the replacements so the board did not have to spend the money all at once.

“The state determines how long we can use buses,” Sams said.

Sams asked to put the busses out for bid, which will be part of the items voted on during Tuesday’s meeting.

He also asked the board about the possibility of a new work truck for the maintenance team and a new Food Service truck.

These items, as well as cuts discussed during last week’s meeting, will come to a vote on Tuesday, April 16, at 5:30 p.m. All meetings are free to attend and are open to the public.

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