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Kingsport school board to oppose Educational Savings Accounts

Rick Wagner • Apr 14, 2019 at 2:14 PM

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Board of Education soon plans a formal protest vote against a school voucher bill of sorts making its way through the Tennessee General Assembly.

The five-member board at a called meeting tentatively set for 6 p.m. on April 23 plans to vote to oppose Educational Savings Accounts. The Sullivan County school board voted to oppose ESAs at its April 2 meeting.

That legislation, pushed by new Republican Gov. Bill Lee, also has drawn opposition from the Tennessee Education Association, Tennessee School Boards Association, Professional Educators of Tennessee and Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents.

Member Susan Lodal, long active in legislative issues affecting education, said at Tuesday’s BOE meeting that she would like to see the board vote to oppose the ESA bill, as Sullivan’s County’s BOE did earlier this month when it passed a resolution by member Matthew Spivey.

The ESA legislation would allow students in low-performing schools, none of which are in Northeast Tennessee, to use the money that otherwise would have gone toward their public education for homeschooling or private schools. Lodal said the measure would take money away from all public schools and open the door to full-blown vouchers.

“It’s gambling with the education of all students in the state,” member Todd Golden said.

The bill, repeatedly amended, would spend $125 million on vouchers over three years and for that time period hold school systems losing students harmless financially.

Lodal said another bill recently was amended to allow Tennessee teachers to carry firearms on campus with no training other than that required to get a gun carry permit.

As previously reported, the board Tuesday voted to amend its tobacco-use policy to clarify that electronic vaping was covered by the prohibitions on smoked and oral tobacco.

In other action Tuesday, the BOE:

— Heard a report on the Kingsport Academy for Teaching, informally called the KAT Academy, from Johnson Elementary School Principal Stacy Edwards and 10 of the student teachers from East Tennessee State University who went through the program. Edwards called it regular student teaching “on steroids,” and the student teachers said it gave them preparation for becoming teachers, including substituting, professional development and mentoring time with veteran teachers. Superintendent Jeff Moorhouse said plans are in the works to expand the program to other schools in the system if funding is available.

— Honored Kingsport City Schools Teachers of the Year at the pre-K-4, 5-8 and 9-12 levels, including the three representatives, respectively, who will move on to the regional level: Cindy Shaddock of Adams Elementary, Karen Bear of Sevier Middle and Lafe Cook of Dobyns-Bennett High.

Other elementary school-level honorees, all chosen by peers, included Julie Hall of Kennedy Elementary, Lisa Hazlett of Washington Elementary, Shauna Slemp of Johnson Elementary, Kindetta “Kaney” Thompson of the Palmer Early Learning Center, Seth Wallingford of Lincoln Elementary, Kristy Walters of Roosevelt Elementary and Kristy Williamson-Jackson of Jefferson Elementary.

Also honored were Stephen Baker of Sevier Middle, Leslie Clifton and Katie Kimbro, both of Robinson, Sarah Lamb of Jackson Elementary, Jessica Mullins of Robinson Middle and Norie-Anne Young of Sevier Middle.

Other high school honorees, from Dobyns-Bennett, were Katie Beth Boggan, Jimmy Burleson, Jana Engle, Kris Krautkremer and Jenny Rogers, and from D-B EXCEL was Brandon Lewis.

— Honored Johnson Elementary Principal Stacy Edwards as Principal of the Year and Chief Student Services Officer Jim Nash as Supervisor of the Year.

— Honored D-B Principal Chris Hampton for receiving the University of Tennessee’s William J. and Lucille Field Award for Support of Excellence in Tennessee Secondary School Leadership.

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