Opening the lines of communication between the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Commission is the drive behind a newly-formed committee's intention to tour all Greene County schools.
The Long-Range Planning Committee is a joint effort between the county school system and the County Commission.
Both school board members and county commissioners serve on the committee, which is chaired by Greene County Schools Assistant Director of Operations and Academic Services David McLain.
The committee met for the first time last month to tour schools in the western quadrant of Greene County. On Thursday, the committee met again to reflect on that tour.
McLain asked members to consider why the committee is conducting the tours.
"I hope we can work in conjunction with the County Commission a little bit more," School Board Chairman Nathan Brown replied.
Others quickly agreed, including the only county commissioner present, Robin Quillen, a member of the committee.
Commissioners Ted Hensley and Wade McAmis are also on the committee, but did not attend the meeting on Thursday.
"I think it should be an ongoing thing, and I think it can be done," Quillen said of a cooperative effort to maintain the school system's facilities.
She said that she is frustrated, however, at what she sees as a low level of support for the school system by some on the County Commission.
"I get frustrated because some of the people on the commission with me -- they're just not going to vote for education, and I don't know why," Quillen said.
School System Maintenance Director David Myers said he was pleased by the fact that the commission and the school board recently agreed to move $800,000 from school system savings into the system's Capital Projects Fund.
School officials aim to utilize these funds to complete a number of capital projects prior to the start of the next school year.
"That's a phenomenal, great amount. But if we don't keep at least $1 million each year in this Capital Projects [Fund], we're backing up," Myers said. "Just like $30,000 worth of painting [each year]; that's minimal.
"People think you're crazy when you come out with those numbers, but they don't know what you've got and what it takes. It takes $1 million per year."
Committee members also took time to reflect on their first tour of schools. They named some needs as priorities for next year, others as projects to recommend to community groups, and still others as low priority.
Among the items listed as needs for next year were the following:
* recording cameras and handicap bathrooms at Mosheim Elementary and Middle School;
* a school nurse at McDonald Elementary School; and,
* an awning, private guidance office area, enclosed library and new sewer drainage lines for West Greene High School.
McLain said he would contact members soon to set up a time to tour schools in the southern quadrant of the county.
Members praised this opportunity.
"You can physically see things, instead of just looking on paper," Tipton said, praising the tours as a better way to represent the community.
The committee also strongly praised the teachers, students and administrators in the schools for positive attitudes, engaging classrooms and good coordination.