First on the agenda, though, was the swearing in of the newest board member. Shannon England was sworn in by Claiborne County Sessions Judge John McAfee. England was appointed by the Claiborne County Commission to fill the vacant seat left by the death of Dr. Roy Ellis. England will fill the seat until the August 2012 Election. She and Steve Brogan are running for the seat.
The H.Y. Livesay Middle School cheerleaders were recognized by the board, with England telling the board and audience about their accomplishments. The team has attended several competitions this year, and placed first in county competition. Coach Tabitha Miles was recognized for her hard work with the team as well. Cheerleaders on the 2011-2012 team are: Kendra Pace, Cheyenne Sutton, Loren Gilbert, Mandi Bays, Heather Johnson, Hannah Price, Caitlin Murphy, Kennedy White, Emma Barnes, Ashlyn Roney, Faith Burdette, Olivia Robertson, Carly Howard, Emily Hoskins, Riley Martin, Kaylee Welch, Olivia Welch and Anna Wilson, the team manager.
Mike Wilmoth was also recognized during the meeting. Wilmoth is the longtime agriculture teacher for Claiborne High School. He was recently named the Tennessee Lottery Educator of the Week by WBIR-TV.
"Mike is professional, energetic and extremely unselfish," said board chairman Tim Duncan. "He's been a friend and mentor to a lot of students over the years."
SMMS will soon be getting a new serving line for the cafeteria, which was presented by Food and Nutrition Director for the system, Jennifer Hernon.
"The current one is over 45 years old," she told the board, which approved the expense. "This is a long-needed improvement."
The board heard from Trent Williams, who told them there were three bids for two new school buses. The winning bid was Central States, for $74,668 per bus. The system is looking at purchasing a used bus as well, which was approved in a previous meeting.
"By buying two new and one used bus, the routes will run fine," said Clifford Bunch, transportation coordinator for the system.
Bunch went on to explain that there will only be four spare buses for the county, and sports teams will have to look at leaving after the bus routes are finished.
"Early field trips will be non-existent," he said, "and games will have to be scheduled for after the bus routes have run."
Williams told the board that they are looking into a lease-to-own program because the system is soon going to have to do something about a large number of buses.
"We need to go ahead and look into this," said board member Bill Turner, "it's not going to work for the teams to leave that late."
During a discussion about several resolutions, board member Dave Chesney asked about the status of preschool at Springdale. Director of Schools Connie Holdway replied that the numbers are down and the program might have to move to TNT and/or the Alpha School.
"So you're not getting rid of the program, just moving the location," said Chesney, to which Holdway agreed. She also said the numbers at Forge Ridge's preschool program may be too low as well.
Several field trips were approved for the upcoming weeks, but Bunch urged the board to amend the motion to approve them to state "pending bus availability."
"We could run into a conflict," he said. "It's field trip time right now."
Board member Michelle Huddleston requested that the board be given more notice about field trips, especially given the problems with scheduling buses.
"I'm sure the idea for these trips occurred more than 30 days beforehand," she said. "We need more time to make plans. I really think we should look at more advance notice for trips."
The board also approved a gas card system that will be used to track fuel usage and costs.
In other business, the board approved the recommendation of the Claiborne County Education Association to have 10 built-in snow days and three days for in-service. They also approved a leave of absence request from Annette Overton.
They also approved a change to the evaluations that was approved by the state. The number of evaluations per year for apprentice teachers has been reduced from six to four, and the number for seasoned teachers has been reduced from four to two. The board approved the change unanimously.
"The state has allowed some flexibility," said Holdway. "This will take a lot off the teachers."
In the reports from board members, Chesney urged everyone to "enjoy yourself safely" during prom time. "Safety is a major concern right now," he said.
Turner asked about non-tenured teachers being rehired, and Holdway responded that most will be, but they have to wait until the budget is finalized.
Holdway mentioned that teachers feel they don't have enough input into policies, and she said principals will begin to go over the policies with them.
"By having more input, there's more ownership," she said, adding that she and other administrators have an "open-door policy" and urge all educators to visit.
"We value your input," she said. "Come to us at any time."
The next school board meeting is scheduled for May 10 at Clairfield. It will begin at 7 p.m.