BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
MARTIN (September 2) – Vice Chairman Joshua Moore led the September School Board meeting which included state recognitions, praise for farm to school efforts, and a call for increased messaging regarding the importance of masks during the pandemic.
Returning to the rotation of school board meetings held at the schools, members and an audience of school administrators and faculty gathered in the Westview cafeteria. As part of the tradition, Moore introduced Gloria Hogan, a Westview senior, HOSA chapter president and state HOSA officer, who led the pledge.
Westview Principal Jeromy Davidson welcomed the board and praised Hogan’s accomplishments as well as recent data reports revealing students had not experienced a sharp decline in test scores after the uncertainty of last year. He then shared a video of the school’s response to Garrett Dinning being named to the USA Special Olympics team, calling it “one of the most uplifting moments of the school year.”
Terry Sue Fanning, the executive director of Tennessee Educational Technology Association, presented Mark Maddox, the director of the technology department for Weakley County Schools, with a plaque noting appreciation for his term as chairman of the state board 2019-2020.
Nutrition Director Trista Snider received No Kid Hungry Tennessee recognition. The nonprofit working to solve problems of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world provided a plaque to honor the school cafeteria workers who excelled in their roles during the 2019 closure, summer months and accommodations due to COVID-19.
Steve Vantrease and Joshua Moore were re-elected to serve as Chairman and Vice Chairman. Kim Longacre was once again selected as the TN Legislative Network representative.
Samantha Goyret, executive director of Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network and consultant with Weakley County’s Farm to School Team presented highlights from the Weakley County Farm to School 2021 Action Plan. Copies of the plan are available at nwtnlfn.org. She also announced the student artists whose work will be featured in the soon-to-be-released Harvest of the Month calendar. They are Scarlett Lovell, Kimberly Mendenhall, Annslee Weatherly, Annabelle Lovell, Cara Webb, Kiya Davis, Maci Jo Buckley, Ellie Dodson, Lilly Beth Nevil, Madison Brewer, Tegan Stout, and AhLee Mae Burton.
In other business of the board, members approved a letter of commitment with Trane Technologies to pursue hiring of engineers to address heating and cooling issues at schools. They also affirmed the application for ESSER 3.0 funding which includes financial aid for adding social workers, and purchasing playground equipment, retrofitting buses for STEM and literacy, upgrading cafeterias, and building renovations.
As a calendar matter, the parent teacher conference date was adjusted to September 28 allowing for the first report card to be in hand.
During the report of Director Randy Frazier, he noted that the board had agreed to revisit the issue of the use of school buildings for community events during the pandemic. After a brief discussion in which Frazier reminded the board that such use had traditionally been on a case-by-case basis., the board agreed to make the schools available once again.
Frazier also reported issues that have come up due to supply chain problems. The bleachers at Martin Middle have been delayed from the planned summer installation to October. Approximately half the technology devices for every teacher have arrived, and interactive boards are on back order. He said that food vendors have notified Snider that buns and loaf bread are now difficult to get.
Frazier then shared statistics of COVID-positive and quarantining numbers from last year and the current year, underscoring the highest number out on a single day. After the school-by-school rundown, he noted the dramatic rise in positive cases among children.
The board then discussed possible strategies for addressing the rise. Reviewing guidance that allows for avoiding quarantine if all students – including the positive case – were appropriately wearing masks, the board asked for increased messaging to be shared with the public. Frazier and the safe and healthy team are already working on a letter to all parents with information on how to help keep students safe and in school.
The next scheduled board meeting is October 7 at Dresden Elementary.