County school board discusses absenteeism, sex education during workshop

The Carter County School Board had their monthly workshop Tuesday night, and among the topics discussed was a talk about the results of a committee meeting about possible solutions to chronic absenteeism in county schools.

Secondary Supervisor Danny McClain said the meeting was full of good ideas.

“The consensus was we normally allow three parent call-ins per semester,” McClain said. “We want to move to two per year.”

Chronic absenteeism was a point of contention for the board during their August workshop, during which some board members questioned tightening the threshold for students when many families in the county are unable to make those tighter quotas due to their environment.

Part of the problem is the state requires more accountability about this issue in three school systems, and chronic absenteeism does not differentiate between excused and unexcused absences.

“If you have six call-ins and then four unexcused, that is 10 absences,” McClain said.

As for time-to-time, McClain recommended the board look into it throughout the 2019/2020 school year and see how implementing it would look in each school before making an official vote on the matter.

Madeline Crawley with Centerstone gave a presentation about a possible sex education program in county high schools.

“We received a five-year grant from the Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health,” Crawley said.

The non-profit organization talked about “Making a Difference,” an abstinence-based, research-focused curriculum that would teach about the dangers of STDs/STIs.

She said the three-day program would not interfere with the general school calendar.

“It is not very invasive,” she said.

She said the program does require parental consent in order for the student to participate, and several notices would go out to remind parents to fill them out beforehand.

The program would take place during the ninth grade wellness classes.

County Commissioner Gary Bailey came bearing good news about his efforts to upgrade the schools’ technological capabilities.

He said they were hoping to do the bulk of the wireless work during the summer, but that timeframe did not work out.

“We are going to have to work during Fall Break,” Bailey said.

He said they are going to try to get three crews working to get as much done as they can during that window.

The next school board meeting is currently scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 19, at 5:30 p.m. at 305 Academy St. All meetings are open to the public.

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