White County Board of Education recently approved the winning bid to build an indoor batting facility for White County High School softball during its July 13 meeting
The facility will be constructed on the high school property adjacent to the front WCHS student parking lot and the county-owned tennis courts. The building will be similar to the one located at the WCHS baseball field. Installation of the utilities will allow for possible future expansion of the facility. (See the complete story in the sports section of today’s Expositor.)
In other business, Board Chairman Bob Young reviewed meeting policies/guidelines and provided a preview of the meeting agenda for the July 13 meeting.
Jayson McDonald, vice chairman, and Dewayne Howard disclosed they have spouses working in the school system, but their statements and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of their spouses and are intended to represent the will of their districts. The board then approved the agenda and the recorded minutes of the June meeting,
In other business, the board approved proposed pay scales for two positions not addressed with the other proposed pay scales in previous meetings.
Another matter of business included the addition of a second school resource officer for White County High School. Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger said the school system would ultimately like one male and one female SRO at the high school. He also explained a grant to White County Sheriff’s Office would pay the salaries of one SRO per school in the district. With the addition of a second SRO for the high school and this new grant, the school system will go from paying the salaries of eight SROs to just one. Dronebarger also mentioned White County Middle School may lose an SRO, in which case one of the high school SROs would fill that vacancy while looking to hire another.
Next on the agenda was approving the redirection of the “Ask the Board” link on the White County Schools website.
The link now takes the user to a blank form that the user fills out and submits. The website says, “Members of the White County School Board would like to address any questions that White County citizens may have about the school system. Board members will address these questions at their monthly meeting.” The site then forwards the completed forms to the director’s email, not the board members.
Dronebarger stated he is happy to address public concerns and questions but feels it is misleading for him to do so if the public believes they are speaking to school board members. The board discussed several options to redirect the link, eventually settling for users choosing a specific board member’s email. The individual email addresses of board members and Central Office staff are posted on the White County Schools website.
Other items of business included the board approving the appointments of three volunteer coaches: Ashlynn Phillips (WCHS softball), Leah Mullican (Northfield cheerleading), and Amanda Dodson (WCHS volleyball), pending the successful completion of the required background investigations.
The board then moved to the election of board officers. Three members were nominated to be chairman: Bob Young, Dewayne Howard, and Jayson McDonald (who declined his nomination). Bob Young was reelected chairman in a 4-3 vote. Jayson McDonald was reelected as vice chairman, and Dewayne Howard was reelected Tennessee Legislative Network Representative.
In new business, the board approved McDonald seeking the Tennessee School Board Association vice president position. McDonald has served in the TSBA leadership program for four years. He now serves as treasurer. The board acknowledged how fortunate the district is to have McDonald filling such a prominent role within the TSBA.
Earlier in the meeting, the board approved several proposed policy changes. Many of these changes directly responded to new legislation or recommendations from the TSBA. Policy 1404 was unapproved and moved to new business after several members, led by Howard, were concerned about policy wording that limited the time for public comments.
The board now allows public comment during meetings by those who sign a request sheet before the meeting starts. The previous policy called for a written request and prior approval for a member of the public to address the board about an item they wish to add to the agenda, or an individual could address the board about an item already on the agenda by signing up on a form provided before the beginning of the board meeting. Each speaker would then be limited to five minutes. The new policy would maintain the five-minute limit, establish a 30-minute time limit for the public comment section of the meeting, and allow the public to address the school board by signing up before the meeting.
Howard and others were concerned the 30-minute time limit might keep some members of the public from being heard. Mr. Young felt that some limit must be established to keep meetings from running indefinitely. After much discussion, the board agreed to approve the policy as written but add it to next month’s meeting agenda for reconsideration.
Other board members in attendance were Diana Haston (District 1), Adam Hickey (District 3), Sherrie Stone (District 6), and Tracy Fowler (District 7)
The next meeting of White County School Board will be 6 p.m., Aug. 10, 2023, at the board of education building, 576 Hale St.
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