The Board of Education at its regular meeting Tuesday approved a memorandum of understanding to join the Coalition for Better Schools, which is to lobby the General Assembly on education issues. Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said Public Chapter 305 on how county bonds for education are shared is a prime concern and that Johnson City and Bristol officials are looking at joining the coalition.
Johnson City officials have been at odds with Washington County officials about non-bond money to be used for county school construction and not shared, based on student enrollment shares, with the city school system.
Ailshie said about 30 cities have school systems statewide but he is not sure how many will join the coalition. However, he said City Manager Jeff Fleming asked the school system to join and that the city plans to join, too. The cost is $2,000 a year, which Ailshie said goes toward influencing lawmakers on legislation. He said the school system will keep its longstanding membership in AIMS (Association of Independent and Municipal Schools) and that the AIMS board has voted to join the coalition.
The board also approved a blanket textbook adoption for career technical education, which will remain until 2023. Science textbook adoptions come next year, followed by social studies the following year.
Also, the board got a report from the Roosevelt Student Leadership League at Roosevelt Elementary and a presentation about globalizing education programs at Sevier Middle and Washington Elementary. And as previously reported, the board voted to spend $400,000 to upgrade wireless access in pre-K through third grade classrooms throughout the school system.
In addition, the board recognized Dobyns-Bennett High School freshman Blakely Gamble for winning third place in the “Best News Story” category in the annual Tennessee High School Press Association awards at Lipscomb University March 5. Last year, she wrote a winning article about the OneKingsport program in the city as an eighth-grader writing for the Sequoyah Scribe at Sevier Middle.
Also, the BOE recognized Sevier Middle eighth-graders John Ryan, Fathima Shaikh, Gabe Tipton and Emma True for winning their categories at the National History Day regional competition at Tusculum College March 6. The four will compete in Nashville Saturday in the state competition.
This year’s theme, explained by eighth grade social studies teacher and competition sponsor John Mallick, is taking a stand in history. John did a research paper on “The Pullman strike of 1894: Taking a Stand for Workers,” while Fathima and Emma’s group exhibit is on “Equalizing the Playing Field: Taking a Stand in Women’s Soccer” and Gabe’s individual performance is on “Kings Mountain: Taking a Stand Against the British.” He won $50 for having the best project on Tennessee history at the regional competition.
In addition, the board recognized eighth-grader Sahil Gaba, captain of the Robinson Middle MATHCOUNTS team, and other team members. Sahil is headed to the 2017 Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition May 13-16 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. He placed first in the oral countdown and second in the written round of the state competition in Nashville March 18, and he also trounced Gov. Bill Haslam during an exhibition match when Haslam visited Robinson last month.
The team, coached by Sevier math teacher Lisa Bratton with help from assistant coach Cameron Buck and volunteer Greg Rasmussen, finished third in the state competition. Other members are eighth-grader Chandi Bhat, eighth-grader Ryan Herzog and seventh-grader Neekon Nejad. Robinson has had 16 consecutive first place wins since 2002 at the chapter level team competition, 10 top four finishes as a team at the state level and eight students going on to the national level since 1994.