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Sullivan BOE to vote on director search, facility plan update

Rick Wagner • Feb 6, 2019 at 2:19 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County Board of Education members are to decide Thursday between two basic directions in the search for a new director of schools — using either the Tennessee School Boards Association or consultant Wayne Qualls.

Regardless of which search method is used, the board will consider a proposal to change policy to specify 10 years of experience in central office administration is wanted instead of the current three.

The TSBA search would cost about $6,500, while the Qualls one would cost $6,000. Other options of using a national firm for $20,000 to $25,000 or a do-it-yourself search didn’t seem to have much traction with the board. The new director will replace Evelyn Rafalowski, who recently announced her retirement after four years as director that capped a 42-year career with the school system.

WHAT ELSE IS ON THE AGENDA?

The BOE’s agenda includes an item to update the proposed facility plan implementation sequence from 2015, which has been a bone of contention because member Mark Ireson said he believes the board went on record planning to close Indian Springs Elementary as part of the construction of a high school to replace Sullivan North, South and much or all of Central high schools.

Ireson during the Jan. 31 work session proposed delaying that vote for a month, to the March 7 meeting, but Vice Chairman Randall Jones said he saw no need for that. The change also would remove language about an $8 million upgrade of Ketron Elementary to make it a K-8 school, since middle school students from the North zone are to go to the new middle school where South High is now.

“I think what the community is asking for now is clarity,” Jones said. “I think what the board is asking for is clarity.” Passage would require at least four votes among the seven board members. The board recently indicated it did not plan to consider the closure of Innovation Academy at all or the early closure of Blountville Middle and the middle school portion of Sullivan Gardens K-8, as introduced as ideas at a November work session.

The proposal would spell out what students would go where after the projected opening of Sullivan East Middle in January of 2020 and West Ridge High in August of 2021. “This puts it in black and white if you approve,” Jones said.

As a side note, member Paul Robinson of Bloomingdale said he thinks South should be renamed something else since the North students would be going there, although he said that would require getting all new sports and potentially band uniforms for the new middle school. Hughes and Jones said that was a good point and could be changed later. 

IN OTHER ACTION

Also Thursday, the BOE is to:

— Finalize a request for proposals for videoing board meetings. During the nonvoting Jan. 31 work session, board members indicated a preference for having the meetings hosted live on the school system’s website with no ads. Archives for meetings would be hosted there too.The board members also indicated support for having at least two “hard copies” of the video for the system’s archives and not to video work sessions.

— Have the first of two readings on a policy change on enrollment in college classes. The existing Policy 2.205 mentions early credit for four classes but will be changed to earn more junior and senior years. In addition, the policy change would allow grades from college classes to count toward class rankings and grade point averages and point out the school system is not responsible for transportation, tuition or fees.

— Have a review of a policy amendment on child abuse and neglect. Policy 6.409 would be proposed for a change to add, per state law, human trafficking to the language and specify that it be reported to state officials, not county or local ones, according to Karen Nave, supervisor of technology, communications and safety. 

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