Weakley County School Board
BY DAVID FISHER
Local citizens now have a greater role to play in the education of their children, thanks to new state laws.
At the Aug. 11 meeting, the Weakley County School Board approved a policy that requires the school system to research and respond to complaints concerning the content of library materials made available to students, based on their age and level of maturity.
After receiving a recommendation from those involved in the evaluation process, the board will make the final determination whether or not to remove the material from the library’s collection.
An existing policy regulating the choice of instructional materials and textbooks used in the classroom was revised in a similar manner.
Other revisions to school board policies included: the student grading system, honor rolls policy, background checks of school personnel, and separation procedures for non-tenured teachers.
Grade Scale Change
As the result of a state law that began July 1, Weakley County Schools have adopted a new 10-point grading scale for students in grades 1-12. The bill, approved by the Tennessee General Assembly, requires that high schools across the state move to the 10-point grading scale.
On the 10-point grading scale, students will receive an “A” for a score of 90-100; a “B” is 80-89; a “C” is 70-79; “D” is 60-69; and a grade that falls below 60 is an “F.”
Because letter grades determine grade point average, students who use the 10-point scale have an advantage in college admissions.
According to Frazier, “The majority of our neighboring states are already using the 10-point grading scale, and it’s important that Tennessee students have the same advantages as kids in other states. The change will help level the playing field and open up scholarship eligibility to more of our students.”
Honor Rolls Policy
The board approved the first reading of a new honor rolls policy that revises the grading score requirements for middle school and high school students. Under the revised policy, honor roll students must have a 90 (all A’s) or higher in each subject. In order to be listed on the merit roll, students must have an 80 (all A’s and B’s) or higher in each subject.
The second and final reading of a revised School Board policy regarding background checks of school personnel was unanimously approved by the board.
The revised policy states: “Background checks shall be required of employees at least once every five years after the date of hire. The board shall reimburse the employees for any costs incurred to perform these background checks and fingerprinting.”
Separation Procedures for Non-Tenured Teachers
Another item on the agenda involved a change to the separation procedures for non-tenured teachers.
“If a non-tenured teacher’s contract is not renewed because of loss of enrollment, we must specifically state that’s why they are not being rehired,” Frazier said. “In the past, we just told them if they would not be receiving a contract next year.” Otherwise, the policy remains unchanged, he stated.
The policy revision reads as follows: “If the reason for non-renewal is due only to the loss of funding for the position, then the notice shall include a statement listing it as the cause for non-renewal.”
After hearing from Director Frazier, the board approved the first reading of the revised policy.
Technology Acceptable Use Guidelines
The Technology Acceptable Use Guidelines for Weakley County Schools was revised to indicate filters are being used to prevent inappropriate material from being transmitted over the internet, as required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act.
The board approved a resolution amending the Federal Projects budget for the year ending June 30, 2023. Frazier stated the resolution requires no local dollars.
The federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides funding to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students.
The resolution transfers money from the line items for health services, which no longer require as many supplies as previously thought, due to the lessening of COVID 19 infections, and redistributes the funds to areas where the money is needed. This includes building improvements to cover construction management fees; the purchase of a hydraulic trailer for the maintenance department; and support staff stipend pay, social security and employer Medicare.
The board approved the appointment of newly elected District 5 School Board member Wendell Cates of Martin as the new Sick Leave Bank trustee.
Innovative School Models
Director Frazier informed the board about the status of the Innovative Model Grant, which is designed to help prepare students to get a job after graduating from high school. “We completed the initial application and have been approved,” he said.
The grant will be submitted in February 2023. Frazier stated Dresden High School will receive $1 million, Westview will also receive $1 million, Greenfield and Gleason will get $500,000 each, Dresden Middle School will be awarded $500,000, and Sharon will receive $200,000.
“This month, we’ll be getting with our administrators and do a walk-through to show them what this is going to look like,” Frazier said. “Then, we’re going to meet with our stake-holders in each building.” He added they would be looking at students’ future careers.
The two main goals of the program are to prepare students to move into a career after high school, and for the program to be sustainable. “This is one-time money and once it’s spent, it’s gone, so we want to be sure to get the equipment. We think this will promote what we’re doing with career opportunities and provide publicity to let our employers know what we’re doing” to get students ready for the workforce.
According to Frazier, enrollment has increased by about 20 students over the last school year.
Frazier announced Dresden High School Nurse Diane Lillegard has assumed the role of nursing supervisor for Weakley County Schools, following the retirement of Beth Kempton.
Another staff change involves hiring Tim Barker as the district’s new School Transportation Supervisor. The longtime educator began July 21. Barker fills the position left vacant by former Transportation Director Ron Byington. Frazier stated Barker is not from Weakley County and must learn the location of all of the roads, but he’s coming along nicely and is well qualified for the job.
Under consent items, the board voted to allow two foreign exchange students to attend Westview High School during the 2022-2023 school year.
The course list for students also received board approval.
Additionally, several field trips were approved, including those for: band, sports, agriculture, and students seeking Career Technical Education. At the high school level, CTE provides students with opportunities to explore a career theme of interest while learning a set of technical and employability skills that integrate into or complement their academic studies.
The board voted to hire the following non-faculty volunteer coaches for the 2022-2023 school year:
- Scott Hewett – Dresden Middle School football;
- Todd Maxey – Dresden Middle School and Dresden High School cross country and track;
- Dusty Gibson – Westview cross country and track;
- Luke Hughes – Gleason basketball;
- Chase Manley – Westview boys’ soccer.
The board also approved an extensive list of volunteer coaches.
Dresden School Board Member Josh Moore, who served as School Board chairman during Steve Vantrease’s absence, stated he believes Vantrease will be back for the board’s September meeting.
Moore announced board members have received tickets for the Weakley County Sports Hall of Fame.
“A lot of people in this room have had a part in this kick-off for the Hall of Fame,” Frazier said. “We appreciate your work. We’re going to celebrate a lot of our past students – their accolades and performances. It’s a tribute to some of the good things happening in our school system.”
The next School Board meeting is Thursday, September 8, beginning at 5:00 p.m. at Dresden Elementary School.