By Dan Schlafer
Following the lead set by the Tennessee State Legislature as referenced in Tennessee Code Annotated Section 5-7-115, your Cumberland County Board of Education approved a measure to "authorize schools to include the Ten Commandments, Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, the Tennessee Constitution and other such historically significant documents" in school displays. Permissive in nature and certainly not required by the board at any of our schools, healthy debate on the subject preceded the unanimous vote. School system barrister Earl Patton cautioned the board that such displays "can't be for religious intent" but must be "purely historical in nature."
Recognized during the first meeting of the new year were Tennessee Association of Conservation District State Poster Contest Winners from Pleasant Hill and South Cumberland Elementary Schools. Presented with a certificate by Director of Schools Aarona VanWinkle were Callie Piper of PHES plus Hollie Shaw and Dasa'n Fant who hail from SCES. We're very proud of their work and congratulate them and their parents for a job well done.
Tennessee Legislative Network Representative Josh Stone revealed the Tennessee School Boards Association's Legislative Agenda for the session just begun. Among the priorities for local boards of education are fiscal independence, the continued authority to appoint our director of schools and the defeat school vouchers and additional charter school expansion measures.
Prior to the discussion of the "historically significant documents" issue, Counselor Patton reported on two current matters of legal interest to the education panel. The first involved a joint motion by both sides to "stay all court proceedings" in advance of a court mediation scheduled for February. A new matter recently filed which had previously been settled in our favor by the Office for Civil Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is still in the initial discovery phase of this litigation.
The Director of Schools Report included approval of a Resolution of Approval for Administrative Staff, a presentation by Deputy Director Rebecca Wood regarding Common Core State Standards and the announcement of TSBA's Annual Day On The Hill to be held in Nashville at the Downtown Sheraton and in the Legislative Plaza on Feb. 20.
Despite challenging weather of late, the Pine View Elementary School addition work continues at a healthy pace. Other discussion focused on a leaky roof
at North Cumberland Elementary and the seven portable classrooms on that campus. Additionally, an inspection of the CCHS stadium was requested to determine what improvements, if any, are needed to make the stadium more safe.
Policy Committee Chair Richard Janeway sought and won first reading approval three policy upgrades. Final approval for five others was granted as well.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, our Safety Committee Chairman Gordon Davis asked for approval of a resolution affirming School Resource Officers and asking the Cumberland County Commission to partner with us to place officers in each of our school. I look forward to this ongoing discussion and to doing everything we possibly can to ensure the safety of our children.
Ethics Committee Chair David Bowman reminded the board that disclosure of interest statements are due by the end of January. A show of hands indicated that several representatives have already taken care of that obligation.
With revenue and expenditures holding steady half way through the year, Business Manager Cindy Randol warned that local option sales tax collection is lagging more than $40,000 behind that which was projected by our County Commission's Budget Committee. "Using the average monthly collection to date, we will not meet the $7,900,000 required to balance our budget." This sounds like deja vu all over again, doesn't it?
The Consent Agenda filled with requests for approval of school volunteers, overnight and out of state field trips, bid specifications and the disposal of surplus property sailed through the process without objection.
On this historically significant night, I was once again reminded of how fortunate I am to be your voice on our board. Please don't hesitate to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or suggestions.