BY SARAH GREGORY
School security was again a major topic of discussion when the Greeneville City School Board held its regular meeting Thursday evening at the Greene Center for Technology.
Board members gave unanimous approval to several capital improvements related to school safety and discussed the current school system/Town of Greeneville policy of having a Greeneville police officer posted during the school day at each of the six city schools.
The board approved security-related upgrades at Highland Elementary School, EastView Elementary School and Greeneville High School.
Highland and EastView will both have entry-door replacements performed by Keller Glass, the winning bidder.
Final costs for those improvements are not yet available, as tests must be conducted to determine whether the existing doors contain lead.
The presence of lead would increase the cost of disposal of existing doors.
Greeneville High School will have a safety door added to its rear entrance at a cost of $10,731. Keller Glass was also awarded that bid.
Fencing to prevent access to the GHS roof will also be added at Greeneville High School.
This particular safety concern "was not on our radar," according to Beverly Miller, assistant director of schools for administration.
After it was discovered that individuals had gained access to the roof, "this was moved to the top of our priorities list," Miller said.
That winning bid went to Rio Grande Fencing, which is expected to install a decorative form of functional security fencing.
The wrought-iron fence will feature sharp spikes that will prevent individuals from being able to climb over to access the roof.
SWAT TEAM REVIEW
Board members discussed other security-related topics following action on all agenda items and the report from Director of Schools Dr. Linda B. Stroud.
Stroud noted that the entire Greeneville Police SWAT team visited all six city schools on Wednesday to begin the process of a complete safety audit review.
School board member Jerry Anderson remarked that Greeneville police officers have been a great help in making observations and security suggestions.
Stroud also noted that feedback has been positive from parents, members of the community, and others concerning the decision to place an armed, trained, certified police officer in each school.
In other action, board members gave unanimous approval to a request to purchase new Internet filtering technology for use in the Greeneville City Schools.
City Schools have already been monitoring and filtering Internet content as required by federal law.
However, with changes in technology and recent initiatives that allow students to use their own personal devices -- computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. -- in school, the need for a different solution became more apparent.
The new product, called iBoss, will replace the Lightspeed solution the system has used since 2010.
Cost for the first year, which includes the software solution and a physical hardware firewall, will be $10,074. Subsequent years will have an annual cost of $5,400.
The measure was approved unanimously.
HAL HENARD UPGRADE
The board gave approval to a measure that would allow for renovation of restrooms in the upper level of the commons at Hal Henard Elementary School at a cost not to exceed $22,000.
The facilities receive much public use as numerous sporting and special community events are held at Hal Henard throughout the year.
Greeneville High School home basketball games are played at Hal Henard.
Because of the frequent use of the Hal Henard commons area, Miller noted that finding a window of opportunity for the project is difficult.
If possible, renovations will take place after the conclusion of the Greeneville High School basketball season and prior to a community event scheduled in early March.
Chief Financial Officer Nicole Buchanan reviewed the City Board's December Financial Statement and audit reports from the 2011-2012 school year with board members.
December revenues were listed as $2,855,141 bringing the year-to-date total to $10,874,902, or 44 percent of the overall budget.
Expenditures in December totaled $2,370,676. Year-to-date expenditures were listed at $11,295,531, or 45.7 percent of the overall budget.
Buchanan noted that property tax collections are less than they were at this same time last year but attributed the decline to timing, noting that more tax collections will come in closer to the Feb. 28 deadline.
She also reviewed reports of audits performed on the school activity fund and Board of Education fund. Both audits received an "unqualified opinion," which is the most favorable rating possible to receive.
The board made a change to the budget timeline as it prepares to begin the process of creating the next fiscal year budget document.
Board work sessions that had previously been scheduled for February were pushed back to April.
The change was made to allow time to receive information from the Tennessee Department of Education about state funds that will be available to the local schools in the next budget year.
Two policy revisions were passed without discussion on first reading.
The policy revisions, as explained by Buchanan and Chief Student Services Officer Jeff Townsley, are based on recommended updates by the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) and recent legal developments involving a lawsuit against Tennessee school districts by the federal government.
Policy 3.402 regarding special use of school vehicles will be updated to "ensure policy matches practices" already in place, according to Buchanan.
The other policy revision approved on first reading relates to Policy 1.802, which relates to Section 504 and Americans with Disabilities Act Grievance Procedures.
The United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) filed complaints against Tennessee school districts in May 2011.
Townsley explained that Greeneville City Schools made the decision to join 126 other school districts to resolve the complaint by making policy changes outlined by the TSBA.
The annual report for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2012, was presented, and Professional Development Coordinator Robbie Mitchell reviewed contents of the report with the board.
The booklet features the school system's new slogan and logo: "Cultivate the Mind, Impact the Heart."
The annual report contains vision, mission, and belief statements for the school system, charts outlining academic indicators of success, student accomplishments, financial information, and Board of Education goals.
The report will be distributed throughout the community through different channels, including through the Greene County Partnership.
The board recognized members of the Greeneville High School boys' cross country team, which recently won the state championship for the second year in a row.
Coach Larry Blalock was honored for winning Tennessee Cross Country Coach of the Year. Blalock was also applauded for being rated the best cross country coach in an eight-state region.
Also honored at the board were teachers from Hal Henard Elementary School, for becoming the first school in Greeneville City Schools' history to achieve all A's in academic achievement assessment in areas of math, reading, language arts, social studies, and value-added student growth.
The Board of Education itself was also honored as next week, Jan. 27 through Feb. 2, is being recognized in Greeneville as School Board Appreciation Week.
A proclamation was made at the last meeting of the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen designating the week in honor of the dedication of school board members.