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McKENZIE (September 4) McKenzie School Board has a new member and four recently re-elected members who took the oath of office during the September 4 meeting.
LaShonda Williams is the newly elected member. Jan Latimer was elected after she served a short stint as an appointed member, and longtime members Jon Davis, Norman French, and Greg Barker (absent from meeting) were all re-elected.
As one of the first orders of business in the annual September meeting, the board selected members for leadership. John Austin was re-elected as chairman, Jan Latimer was elected as vice-chairman, Jon Davis was elected treasurer, and Lance Rider was elected as the member of the Tennessee Legislative Network with Norman French selected as the alternate.
As part of the good news disseminated was MSSD students and teachers achieved a Level 5 status of a possible 5 on tests measuring the educational growth of students as administered by the Tennessee Department of Education.
Refinancing the schools indebtedness was also approved unanimously if the school can save as much as $50,000 annually for the remaining four years on the bond.
McKenzie Special School District is expected to be debt free in just four years. The bond agents indicated they will shop for the best interest rates in an effort to reduce the 4.0 percent interest rate to possibly as little as two percent. A two-percent reduction would net annual savings of $69,323.13. Local financial institutions will be asked to bid on the bonds, said Lynn Watkins, director of schools.
The board amended the district’s Policy Manual to reflect new state laws on attendance, corporal punishment, background checks for school personnel, and the testing for lead in water fountains inside the school buildings.
Corporal punishment can only be administered to a student after notifying a parent or guardian. Watkins said the notification is not to seek permission, just to inform. There are students who are subject to an Individual Education Plan (IEP) provision, which disallows corporal punishment. Many times that involves students with special needs. The director said the administration of corporal punishment is not “worth it."
All personnel with contact with students, must undergo a mandatory background check every five years. Persons who refuse will not be re-employed. Persons identified through the Department of Children’s Services as a perpetrator of child abuse, severe child abuse, child sexual abuse, or child neglect cannot be employed by the school.
The new state law regarding attendance requires school officials to enhance its efforts through a three-tier intervention system to encourage attendance. The law is to reduce the number of truancy cases in Tennessee’s courts.
Testing for lead in the drinking water is also a new state mandate. Watkins said the school system has contracted with Waypoint Analytics to conduct the mandatory tests. It mandates all school buildings built prior to January 1, 1998 be tested.
The board approved budget amendments to account for $63,613 to enhance the security of the school campuses. A portion of the grant is recurring and the other is one-time money.
School enrollment is at 1,249 students, 40 below the current state funding level.