BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Greene County Board of Education Chairman and long-time public figure Roger Jones will resign from the board during the board's October meeting, he officially announced on Thursday.
Jones and his wife, retired teacher Yhona Jones, will be moving to Knoxville, where he is now working as director of the city's branch of the National College of Business and Technology.
He formally announced his intention to resign near the close of Friday's board meeting, just prior to the selection of new board officers by acclamation.
Board member Nathan Brown will now serve as chairman. Board member Kathy Crawford will be vice chair. Trenda Berney will remain as board secretary.
During a lengthy resignation speech, Jones said it had been "an honor and a privilege" to serve the community over the years as a teacher, coach, board member, board chairman, county
issioner and mayor.
"It's time for this journey to end and another journey to follow," he said. "You can take me out of Greene County, but you can never take Greene County out of my heart."
He encouraged those present to regain their sense of community and get to know their neighbors again.
He said that he will retain some property in Greene County and will actively continue to read The Greeneville Sun and stay abreast of local happenings.
Brown and Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk each praised Jones' service to the community. Brown presented Jones with a plaque thanking him for his three years as board chairman.
Kirk noted that his expertise and experience will be "sorely missed" by the board.
The board did not discuss at this meeting the procedure for filling the board vacancy that will be created by Jones' planned resignation at the October meeting.
During her director's report, Kirk also commented on having attended the recent state senate hearings concerning Common Core, the new standards being implemented by the vast majority of U.S. states.
Kirk attended the hearings as an advocate for Common Core and said that the hearings reaffirmed her support for the standards.
Two board members, Kathy Austin and Deborah Johnson, also attended the hearing,
Austin said she was pleased with how the hearings took place.
She noted questions that were raised concerning the testing linked to the new standards, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), as well as how these changes will affect the collection of student data.
She said that she anticipates new legislation on these matters during the Tennessee General Assembly's spring session.
Johnson called on Kirk to put together a community presentation on how Greene County is implementing the new standards.
In other reports, the board heard from Assistant Director Bill Ripley on student enrollment, which is down by approximately 30 students, and on student growth data, from Assessment Supervisor Dr. Julia Lamons.
Budget Director Mary Lou Woolsey gave a budget report, in which she said sales tax revenue is up by 2.3 percent over this time last year.
Johnson questioned a $5,500 anonymous donation that was listed within the budget, saying that she is opposed to anonymous money because it "leaves lots of room to question the motive behind the gifts."
Finally, the board heard from three citizens concerning various items, including:
* Judith Sexton concerning Common Core, which she indicated she opposes as a gateway to communism, the "dumbing down of America," and as "paving the way to socialism and a one-world order."
She also called for the board to revoke all decisions made during Jones' time as chairman in which he has been working in Knoxville. Jones replied by stating his Greeneville home address.
* Donald Burchnell, a retired tradesman, emphasized the need for apprenticeship programs within the system and urged additional "craft or trade" training so students can become electricians, plumbers or contractors.
* George Carpenter, of Chuckey, spoke against the K-12 Incorporated's virtual academy, in which students may enroll to take online-only classes without any input from their local school system
This results in the loss of revenue to the school system and, last year, allowed the for-profit, Virginia-based company's top executive to make millions, he said.
Kirk nodded in agreement throughout much of Carpenter's statement and verbally agreed when he noted how poorly students of the program have tested.