BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The final audit of the recent West Greene High School expansion and improvements revealed a project total of nearly $1,029,000: over its original budget, as anticipated, but by a much smaller amount than had been expected in late 2011.
Greene County Board of Education Budget Director Mary Lou Woolsey made this announcement at Thursday's meeting of the board, during which Roger Jones was re-elected chairman, Nathan Brown vice-chairman, and Melissa Batson as secretary.
Nearly a year ago, the board had announced that the West Greene project was projected to go $150,000 over its original $1 million budget, despite the 10 percent contingency costs that had been included in the budget.
The amount over budget continued to decline, however, as the remaining portions of the project came in under their anticipated costs and other savings were realized.
The Chuckey-Doak High School fieldhouse project is also now complete, the board announced on Thursday.
Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk estimated that the fieldhouse project came in about $65,000 under its nearly $524,000 budget.
In light of these savings, the board voted to approve the concept and maximum scope of a paving project for the road leading down to the C-DHS football field and concession stand area.
Kirk told the board that she will be presenting a full list of capital projects for consideration during the October board workshop.
She questioned whether the board would prefer to wait to know the full scope of the projects needed before approving the C-DHS paving, an option that was preferred by board member Kathy Austin.
"I would like to commend [Facilities Director] David Myers and the maintenance department. They did a great job in coming under budget," Austin said.
"But it seems like the budget that we had was to build the fieldhouse comparable to North Greene's and South Greene's.
"It seems like, if we have any money left from this building project, that it would be really good for us ... to put that back in Undesignated. It would speak to the public that we're in good faith, to save money when we can."
Board member Kathy Crawford explained that the concept for the paving project came as a recommendation from the Building Committee as a result of the area turning into "clay mud" when it rains.
Chairman Jones also noted that the road frequently washes out.
This was the first board meeting for newly-elected member Tommy Cobble, who also defended the need to move forward with the project.
Cobble stated that he has spent much of his time volunteering at Chuckey-Doak and has long seen the need for paving to at least go down the road, if not to extend around the concession area.
"There's no need of not doing this since we've got the money," he said. "This is needed."
The board approved the concept for the project 6-1, with Austin voting against it, but several members noted their desire to consider during the bidding process only doing a portion of the project, in order to save money.
The board was also divided during consideration of an agreement with Terra Shares and the Tennessee Valley Authority to lease roof and land space for the placement of solar panels.
Following contract negotiations, the school system was able to negotiate no costs to the system to allow the placement of the panels and receive approximately $26,000 per year for the leased space.
However, some members expressed hesitation after Terra Shares President John Atkins explained that there would be a 20-year contract.
The board voted 6-1, with Crawford opposed, to amend the motion to have Kirk and County Attorney Roger Woolsey review the contract and make the final decision.
The board then voted 3-4 to approve the motion, meaning that the agreement failed.
However, the board requested to hold a workshop with Woolsey and Atkins to further consider the matter.
While the board approved most agenda items unanimously without discussion, one such item failed for lack of a motion.
Kirk explained to the board that the system is in need of a new delivery truck to supply the schools with paper materials.
However, the truck that was proposed for purchase on Thursday cost $9,999, just $1 short of the $10,000 amount that triggers the bidding processes.
Since the amount was so close, Kirk recommended that the board not approve the purchase and wait to receive bids.
Following this recommendation, the item failed for lack of a motion.
The board unanimously approved on final reading a number of items, including various policy revisions recommended by the Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA:
* allowing school board members to attend school board meetings electronically -- in other words, by computer -- if doing so is requested for work-related reasons or family emergencies, and if a quorum of the board is physically present at the meeting;
* significant revisions to detail and define Charter Schools;
* evaluation of the Director of Schools, adding minimum required sections to the evaluation plan, including job performance, student achievement, and relationships with employees, board members and the community;
* suspension/expulsion/remand: adding a notice requirement in which parents and guardians may request within five days of receiving the notice an open appeals hearing (otherwise such hearings will be closed to the public); and,
* a new policy, Safe Relocation of Students, which allows for the relocation of students for their safety or to intervene in a physical altercation between students using reasonable force.
The board also approved the following policy revisions on first reading:
* editorial revisions to Assignment/Transfer and Procedure for Granting Tenure;
* Suspension Practices for Tenured Teachers and Separation Practices for Non-Tenured Teachers, detailing the holding of pay during a pending investigation, as well as other procedural details; and,
* Student Wellness, adding language emphasizing the county's commitment to the CDC's Coordinated School Health program.
In addition, the board approved the following manual revisions:
* a new procedure for Leave of Absence requests that are longer than one year;
* editorial changes defining "bullying" to include communication by electronic means;
* a new report form for harassment/bullying; and,
* an added offense under Discipline Procedures addressing clothing exposing "underwear or body parts in an indecent manner" that could be disruptive to the learning environment.
Other items unanimously approved included:
* budget amendments for Title programs, the 2012-2013 Extended Contract;
* out-of-state field trip requests;
* Adrian Sauceman as a volunteer coach for the boy's basketball team at Mosheim Elementary School;
* the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Preschool and Part B completion reports and carryover budgets;
* the IDEA Preschool $75,000 discretionary grant for purchasing technology for 3 to 5-year-olds with disabilities;
* the Safe Schools Grant; and,
* a time change of the next meeting from 5 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The board also discussed and approved reconsideration of the TSBA Convention vote from the August board meeting, in which the board decided to not pay for board members to attend.
Crawford brought the matter up for reconsideration, saying that it is important for the system to be involved in the meetings, which often include important votes that could affect students and schools in Greene County.
Other members agreed, and Jones recommended that the board "police" themselves so that, unless necessary, not all members are attending every year in order to save money.
In other discussions, the board considered broadcasting video recordings of the board meetings on cable television.
Jones explained that this would be at no cost to the system and does not require a contract.
This matter was only considered for discussion, however, and was not voted on during the meeting.
The board also recognized Wesley Harris for winning 12th-place at the National History Competition in Washington, D.C., and welcomed new student board members Maggie Keene, of Chuckey-Doak High School, Catherine Tadder, of North Greene High School, Cody Morgan, of South Greene High School, and Derrick Livingston, of West Greene High School.