BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Education Committee got a look at the year ahead for the Greene County School System on Thursday.
Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk and her Central Office staff updated members of the committee concerning Common Core-related curriculum changes, capital projects and energy savings.
Dr. Kristi Wallin, kindergarten through eighth grade curriculum supervisor, repeated the Common Core presentation she recently presented to the system's Curriculum Committee.
The vast majority of U.S. states have opted to adopt Common Core State Standards, but there has been some controversy to the change, and some states have opted not to adopt the standards.
Wallin described some of this controversy as "misunderstandings," such as, she said, relating to the collection of student data.
The supervisor assured the committee that the new assessments associated with Common Core, Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), will not change or add to the amount of data that had already been collected during TCAP assessments.
The federal government will also continue to have no access to student-level information, she added.
In other business, David McLain, assistant director of operations and academic services, updated the commissioners on $700,000 worth of capital improvements that the system undertook over the summer.
The majority of those projects are now well underway or complete, McLain said, including roofing, painting and HVAC renovations.
The system also installed several safety entrances at the schools that did not already have such entrances in place, including West Greene and South Greene high schools.
Mclain also assured commissioners that rumors of sinkholes at Nolichucky Elementary School and Chuckey-Doak High School are not true.
Nolichucky experienced some settling of the floors that has been corrected, while Chuckey-Doak has an ongoing drainage project, he explained.
Finally, McLain reported that the county high schools' auxiliary officers can only work 100 hours per month, limiting them to 25-hour work weeks. This will require extra officers to maintain security at the high schools, he said.
He further urged the commissioners to continue considering providing Security Resource Officers (SROs) to the schools.
SROs are post-certified and employed by the local law enforcement agency, while auxiliary officers do not have the same certifications.
"That's something we need to look into as a county to provide that safety for our schools," he said.
In final business, Steve Tipton, the system's energy specialist, reported that the school system has saved approximately $450,000 since the energy-savings program was implemented in June 2012.
This figure, he said, is based on the analysis from Cenergistic, the company that implemented the program.
Savings are based on the amount the system would have historically spent under similar weather conditions.
"Steve has done a great job on this," Kirk said. "And our custodians in our schools, they're key.
"I'm very, very proud of this. Our implementation has been pretty flawless."