By CHRIS MENEES
If a proposed school voucher program is adopted, it will “change the face of education as we know it today,” Obion County Director of Schools David Huss said Monday.
Huss briefly addressed the issue at the Obion County School Board’s March meeting, held Monday night at South Fulton High/Middle School.
He told board members that he and other county leaders attended a meeting Friday in Dyersburg with education and county officials from across the region for a briefing on a proposed school voucher program, which would essentially provide state funding for private schools. Also in attendance were Obion County School Board chairman Brian Rainey, Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire and Obion County commissioner Danny Jowers, as well as Union City Director of Schools Gary Houston.
The roundtable discussion was set up by state Rep. Bill Sanderson of Kenton and provided an opportunity for both sides of the issue to present their arguments for and against the proposed program. For nearly two hours, area education leaders had discussions with a team of lobbyists pushing for the statewide school voucher program.
Huss told board members Monday night that those lobbying for the program are “pushing it hard,” adding it would significantly change the current education system if adopted.
He said Sanderson is, so far, opposed to school vouchers in the current form being presented and he said he appreciates his efforts. Huss said it will be interesting to see what comes out of the General Assembly in regard to the issue.
He updated board members about the school voucher issue during his director’s report at the end of an otherwise brief and routine monthly session.
In other action during Monday night’s 30-minute meeting, opened in prayer by board member Fritz Fussell, the school board:
• Recognized the SCOPE (Student Congress on Policies in Education) delegates from Obion County Central and South Fulton high schools. Among those slated to attend next week’s conference are OCCHS juniors Kaycee Mathenia and Korben Hagan and SFHS juniors Abby O’Neal and Ryan Harper.
• Approved a consent agenda that included monthly personnel, substitute teacher and financial reports, as well as a report of technology equipment declared surplus.
The personnel report for March listed the resignations of bus driver Teresa Decker and custodians Dennis Shannon and Frankie Ogden; and leaves of absence for OCCHS teachers Michelle Johnston and Daniel Johnston and Lake Road Elementary teacher Bethany Ellegood (extension for the remainder of the year).
Among the substitute teachers approved for addition were Michelle Love, Shauna Craig, Christopher Craig, Laurie Kissell, Leonard Davis, Christy Fulton, Jennifer Gurien, Stephanie Hall, Brett Lovett and Stephanie Scott.
• Approved a contract with Union City Coca-Cola Bottling Co. for extension of an existing agreement which ends in 2013. The board considered three different contract options and voted to approve a 10-year contract which includes contributions of $15,000 per year to benefit students, replacement of several school scoreboards and the placement of a marquee sign at South Fulton.
• Voted to approve an amendment to the 2012-13 fiscal year budget for the General Purpose School Fund, which was also presented to the Obion County Budget Committee at its session Monday morning. The amendment reflects an increase in non-recurring expenditures due to unexpected damage to Hillcrest Elementary School as the result of extreme drought conditions and due to the renovation of the old Career Technology Center building progressing more rapidly than anticipated.
The Obion County Board of Education office will be relocating to the old CTC building and its current office on South Third Street near the courthouse will be returned to the county. Huss said the board office is in line to be out of the current building by June.
• Approved on first readings amendments to board policies regarding an emergency preparedness plan, in-service and professional learning opportunities and compulsory attendance ages.
• Granted approval to overnight student trips for OCCHS’ Future Teachers of America and SFHS’ Beta Club.
Board member David Lamb was absent from Monday night’s meeting.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 3.5.13