School Board Approves Background Checks Revision, Addition of School Sports
BY DAVID FISHER
DRESDEN (June 2) — Members of the Weakley County School Board considered a broad agenda during their regular monthly meeting on Thursday, June 2, at the Weakley County Board of Education conference room.
The first reading of a revised School Board policy regarding background checks of school personnel was unanimously approved by the board.
To ensure the safety and welfare of students and staff, the district shall require criminal history background checks and fingerprinting of applicants for teaching positions and any other positions that require proximity to children. Any cost incurred to perform these background checks and fingerprinting will be paid by the applicant; however the board will reimburse the applicant, if the position is offered and accepted. The cost of a background check is $35.
According to Director of Weakley County Schools Randy Frazier, background investigations were previously only required upon hiring; but due to a change in the law, background checks are required at least every five years after the date of hire.
School Sports Programs
The board approved expanding school sports programs at a couple of Weakley County Schools, as requested.
The board voted to add middle school softball at Gleason School. Gleason Principal Lee Lawrence, who also serves as athletic director, stated there has been quite a bit of interest in adding middle school softball over the past two years. He noted there are about 22 girls wishing to play the sport.
Golf and volleyball were added at Martin Middle School. Regarding adding golf to the lineup of sports at Martin Middle School, Frazier said there is currently only one person interested, however this has been the case in the past for other sports. Concerning adding volleyball at Martin Middle School, the plan currently calls for girls to practice at Martin Middle School and play their games at Westview High School
Advanced and College Courses Policy
An amended school board policy, dealing with advanced and college courses, which allows more students to be eligible to participate in honors classes, was approved on second and final reading.
The revised policy states: “Students in grades seven through twelve may enroll in available advances courses including, but not limited to: advanced English, language arts, mathematics, science, or social studies courses.
To enroll in advanced courses, students shall meet the following standards: TCAP scores at the “approaching” level or above from the most recent available test, A or B average in the content area(s) of the advanced class(es), pre-requisite courses (where applicable).”
Frazier explained the amended policy alters the policy’s language to bring it in line with college enrollment requirements.
Evaluation of Director of Schools
Regarding the evaluation of the director of schools, School Board Chairman Steve Vantrease said that the school board is required to evaluate the director once each year between the months of April and June. According to Vantrease, Frazier received an overall average grade of 4.69. Vantrease noted Frazier received exemplary ratings in all of these categories, scoring between 4.9 and 4.96. Additionally, board members had positive remarks for Frazier in the comments portion of the evaluation form.
“In light of Mr. Frazier’s outstanding performance and evaluation, and in consideration of his steady and stable leadership, especially during the last couple of years, I recommend he receive a raise in accordance with his contract and to bring into account the cost of living,” Chairman Vantrease said.
The director of schools’ contract has three options regarding a salary increase, and it states he is to receive the highest of the three options.
However, Frazier said, “I still have the option of not doing that.” He noted, if the teachers don’t get a salary increase, he doesn’t want one either.
The board approved a proposed budget for the Perkins Grant for FY 2022-2023 totaling $80,205.52.
These funds support the operation of the Career Technical Education Program in Weakley County Schools.
Frazier said funding that Weakley County Schools receives every year for the Perkins Grant program involves federal money only and no local tax dollars. The money will be used for: clerical personnel and benefits, construction, vocational equipment, professional staff development, travel and in-service training.
Frazier announced it was a tough budget year, due to various factors, including property tax projections being down, due to the December 10, 2021, tornado that caused extensive damage to homes and businesses across the county. He stated, although sales tax revenues are up, the cost of everything continues to increase. “So, we’re going to be creative in attempting to provide raises for school personnel,” he said.
Frazier stated the school budget for FY 2022-2023 should be completed by Tuesday, June 13, and there will be a called budget meeting on Thursday, June 16 at 4 p.m. to review the budget. This will allow also time for the Health, Education and Economic Development Committee to consider the budget
Due to School Board Chairman Vantrease having scheduling conflicts the next few months, the board agreed to move their regular board meetings in August, September, October, November and December from the first Thursday to the second Thursday, beginning at 5 p.m.
After the board adjourned, the 2022 retirees were recognized and celebrated. (See article “Retirees Honored at June School Board Meeting” by Karen Campbell.)