By Holly Roeder
The Chester County School Board met in regular session Thursday, September 22. All members were present, with Becky Hutcherson attending the meeting virtually. The meeting was held at East Chester Elementary, where students presented a “Leader in Me” program, outlining Seven Habits of Happy Kids.
Clay Rogers was welcomed to his first board meeting, representing District 2. It was announced that there is an open position for the District 1 representative which is expected to be filled with the November elections.
After approving the agenda, the first item of business was to elect a board chairman. Hutcherson nominated Shane Connor, with Ben Cupples seconding. Connor was elected by acclamation, the vote unanimous.
The next item was to name Vice Chair. Hutcherson nominated Ben Cupples, and Jeff Harris seconded. Cupples was named by unanimous vote
Hutcherson was elected Legislative Representative by acclamation, in a unanimous vote, being nominated by Cupples.
Moving on to delegations, Debbie Maness approached the board requesting a reconsideration to return to the State insurance plan from the current private health plan, and/or to give plan members an option to switch back. According to Maness, she was making the request partially due to having been with the private plan for a number of years, stability of the state plans and a desire to allow the teachers a voice in the process. Superintendent Troy Kilzer responded that the current plan benefits in Cigna are the same the Blue Cross Blue Shield state plan benefits. He further explained that the plans are compared regularly, and as they noticed last year the state plan was cheaper, they had planned to switch to it if it was again this year, however, the private plan was $1 cheaper, and they elected to stay with it.
Concerning a property for sale by the school system, about .8 acres with a block house, Superintendent Troy Kilzer reported having received two bids since bids opened Sept. 14. One from Steve Hite for $5,000, the purpose being to use as a sand blast shop for his auto body shop. The second bid was by Clay Morris for $10,060, for real estate value. The board voted unanimously to reject both bids.
The board voted to accept the recommendation to change the grading scale of credit recovery in accordance with the new Tennessee 10-point grading scale. According to Kilzer, the most a student can earn through credit recovery is a D, which was previously, a 70. This grade has been adjusted to a 60 for D.
Regarding recommendations which will be sent to state legislature for discussion, the board voted to recommend leaving the decision of grade retention at local levels
“One test is not the best measure to determine whether that student is capable of success or not,” Kilzer said.
The second resolution concerned drawing educators’ time away from instruction time. Kilzer explained, “In some cases their duties and additional duties are significant, and it impedes their opportunity to teach students well…We request that the state government look at those duties they’ve assigned in addition to what our teachers are hired to do..” The board voted unanimously to recommend the state consider revision of these duties.
Dr. Elizabeth Saunders approached the board requesting to move forward with the process to submit North Chester/Vincent High School for historical consideration with the National Register of Historical Places. There was some discussion of what this would mean for the building, including possible renovations to one room such as the cafeteria or gymnasium, versus the whole building. The building is currently being used by the school system for classrooms, office space and storage.
Connor asked Dr. Saunders what would be the ultimate goal in this endeavor. Her response was that the first goal would be to have North Chester/Vincent included in the National Register, and later the possibility of acquiring grants for renovations. The board questioned whether the grants would require matching funds from the county. Kilzer stated someone he had spoken with at the Tennessee Historical Commission reported the grant would require 40% matching funds.
James Vincent also approached the board, stating they are simply asking for the board’s support in getting the process started, permission to go into the school to get pictures and measurements for the application process.
Saunders continued to say the historical register process could lead to renovations and further community use for North Chester.
Cupples made a motion to support the process of achieving historical status, and Harris seconded. All were in agreement and the motion passed to a standing ovation by the crowd.
In other decisions, Kilzer asked the board to authorize school fundraiser requests, which the board approved unanimously.
The board also voted unanimously to include cargo pants/shorts and carpenter pants and shorts in the accepted dress code policy.
In final business, the board approved the budget plan.
Before the meeting adjourned, Kilzer reported State Board Representative Larry Jensen recently visited the school, observing classes and programs, and meeting with teachers and students.
Finally, Kilzer updated the board on bus situation. He said there are 11 potential drivers ready to test, that two have been ready for a month. According to Kilzer Hardin Co. is also three routes down, “Everyone is short on drivers,” he said.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 20 at Jacks Creek Elementary.