Five things to look for on Thursday's school board agenda

Five things to look for on Thursday's school board agenda

August 15th, 2018 by Meghan Mangrum in Local Regional News

In this March 2018 staff file photo, Hamilton County school board member Karitsa Jones speaks during a board meeting.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

The Hamilton County Board of education meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at 3074 Hickory Valley Road. The policy committee will meet prior to the regular session at 4:30 p.m., followed by the superintendent evaluation instrument committee.

 

The Hamilton County school board meets Thursday for the first time since students returned to class last week. After an eventful summer and the election of two new soon-to-be board members, there's a lot on the agenda.

Here are five things to watch for during the meeting:

1. School safety update

There are currently only 27 school resource officers in 25 of 79 Hamilton County schools, according to Lt. Eric Merkle of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

A presentation by Kenneth Bradshaw, the district's new chief operations officer, to the board should explain why that is and what's being done about it.

Earlier this year, after the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, school safety and security once again became a hot-button topic.

Superintendent Bryan Johnson added $500,000 to the 2018-2019 budget to add additional school resource officers, but four vacancies have also opened up because of promotions and medical leave.

The safety updates will come a few days after Gov. Bill Haslam announced that almost all of Tennessee's public schools had completed their required school safety assessments, as well as $35 million in funding for school safety and security enhancements.

2. Possible discussion of test scores

The Tennessee Department of Education plans to release school-level TNReady results for grades 3-8 and high school end-of-course exam and TVAAS scores Thursday morning.

Last month — also the same day as a Hamilton County school board meeting — the state released overall state and district-level data.

Though elementary school students in Hamilton County's public schools saw slight improvements, students in middle and high school fell further behind, according to the test results.

Thursday's release will give educators, parents and the community a look at how students are performing across the district, if schools like those in the Opportunity Zone have seen improvements under new leadership and whether the TNReady testing struggles in the spring seemed to affect certain schools more than others.

School administrators and board members will more than likely comment on the scores, as they did at the July board meeting.

3. Farewell to two board members

The results of the Aug. 2 general election mean two new faces are joining the school board.

Jenny Hill defeated Michael Henry for the District 6 seat that became available when current board member Joe Galloway announced he would not run for re-election.

Newcomer Tucker McClendon also will join the board after usurping incumbent David Testerman for the District 8 seat.

Recognition by Johnson of board members Testerman and Galloway is on Thursday night's agenda.

The two new members officially start in September.

4. Several updated policies

District policies regarding background checks for volunteers and contractors, making changes to transcripts, grading, truancy and sexual misconduct will all be discussed.

Board member Kathy Lennon, of District 2, who serves as head of the policy committee, has been fervently working on policy updates required by law, as well as other updates.

Previously, former assistant superintendent of student services Lee McDade managed many of the policy updates, but Lennon feels it is the board's responsibility.

Several of the updates will be up for a second public reading — two public readings are required before the board can vote on the measure. Check back with timesfreepress.com for policy updates after the board meeting.

5. Operations plan presentation from new chief

Bradshaw, who took over after long-time school leader Lee McDade retired, will address the board for the first time since taking over operations of the district.

His presentation will address new developments, updates and long-term plans for several areas under his purview including school safety and security, facilities and maintenance, transportation, and food service.

In his sights are a seven- to 10-year capital improvement plan and exploring efficient transportation options, according to the agenda released last week ahead of the meeting.

The school safety update will also be rolled into Bradshaw's presentation, addressing school resource officer vacancies and other changes the district has planned.

Also, according to his presentation, Soddy-Daisy and Hixson high schools' football field renovations should be completed by the end of this month — just in time for their first home games.

Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.


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