​Extended School Program Changes; Schools Budget Proposals

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Feb. 10 meeting, the Franklin County School Board approved a revised fee schedule for the Extended School Program (ESP). The board also gave a nod to plugging in wage increases in several categories to determine how the cost would impact the 2020–21 budget.

The revised ESP fee schedule proposed by program Coordinator Kim Nuckolls eliminates variable rates for students participating in the program on a part-time basis. The new rate is $20 per day for full-day attendees and $10 per day for afternoon after-school attendees. If more than one child from a family attends, the second and third child receives a $2 discount. North Lake Elementary offers breakfast for an additional $5 per day. In all cases, parents must register in advance indicating the days children will attend. Parents will be billed for these days even if a child does not attend. In the case of snow days, scheduled afternoon attendees who attend all day will be billed for a full day.

The board also approved Nuckolls’ proposal to increase the minimum number of participating children from 12 to 15. “Cowan and Broadview may not have a program,” Nuckolls acknowledged, “but children from those schools can attend another program.”

Board member Sarah Marhevsky observed not having an ESP program could pose a hardship for parents. Marhevsky asked if the total number of participating children countywide could be used to determine an average per school to avoid closing some programs.

“If we don’t have 12, it doesn’t cover the cost of what we’re paying our workers to come in,” Nuckolls explained.

The new pricing becomes effective beginning with the summer 2020 program.

Turning to the 2020–21 budget, Assistant Superintendent Linda Foster proposed several wage increases.

Foster noted 188 certified teachers employed for more than 20 years received no wage increase whatsoever last year. All other certified teachers received step increases based on years of service. Foster will calculate the impact of step increases for teachers in the 20-plus years category.

“This might be an incentive for veteran teachers to stay with us longer,” observed board member Sarah Liechty.

Foster will also figure the cost impact of giving across the board two percent and three percent salary increases to all certified employees.

“We have a lack of teacher applicants,” Foster stressed. “I’ve never posted teacher positions for the coming year in January before.”

In the classified employees’ category, Foster recommended a starting salary increase and years-of-service increases for bus drivers. “We’ve had two openings for sometime,” Foster said.

“I don’t know how we have any drivers at all,” said board member Lance Williams. New-hire bus drivers earn only $13,860 annually before taxes. However, Foster noted, as an incentive the school system pays 90 percent of bus drivers’ health insurance.

Looking to the area of maintenance, Foster suggested new hires be evaluated after three months for a possible wage increase if the employee had specialty skills the school system needed, such as carpentry, painting and plumbing.

Foster said 65-70 percent of the school system’s annual budget was allocated to personnel and benefits.

Director of Schools Stanley Bean updated the board on the impact of school closings due to excessive rainfall. Three roads were blocked, Bean said, and several others on the verge of flooding. As of Feb. 11, all but one of the school closing days built in to the calendar had been used. Bean suggested the school system might be able to make up one day by eliminating early dismissal on Wednesdays.

​Knoll to Present ‘Microplastics’ at SCA Meeting

The Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) will meet on Thursday, Feb. 20, at St. Mark’s Hall, Otey Parish.

Dinner begins at 5:15 p.m., followed by a business meeting. The dinner is free and open to the public. This year, free children’s activities will be available. Please send a reservation in by Friday, Feb. 14, to <sewaneecivic@gmail.com>, and while helpful for planning purposes, is not required.

The program will be presented by Martin Knoll, professor of geology at the University of the South. The topic will be “Microplastics in the Environment: Potential Impacts on People and Animals.”

The menu is roasted red pepper soup with summer squash croutons (gluten free/vegetarian), hearty beef and vegetable soup, deconstructed caesar salad, and gluten free rice krispy treats. Wine, water and tea will be served.

This year, the SCA is celebrating 112 years of service in the community. The association brings together community members for social and service opportunities. The Civic Association is the governing body for the Sewanee Community Chest, the charter organization for Cub Scout Pack 152, the sponsoring organization for the Sewanee Classifieds, and the selection committee for the annual Community Service Award. Any adult who resides in the area and shares concerns of the community is invited to participate.

For more information, go to sewaneecivic.org.

​Mountain Goat Trail Race Registration Open

Join us on April 11, for the Mountain Goat Trail Race, sponsored by Mountain Outfitters.

The run/walk on Saturday is the same route as the first 6 great years. This year’s half-marathon on Sunday starts in downtown Tracy City and ends at Mountain Outfitters.

The seventh annual Mountain Goat Trail Run & Walk will be held on Saturday, April 11. Online registration is through UltraSignup https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=74819 until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 10. Event-day registration Saturday morning will be at Pearl’s (walk) or Angel Park in downtown Sewanee (run) between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Online entrants will need to check in at the start.

The 5-mile run will begin at 10 a.m. in downtown Sewanee; a 2-mile walk will begin at 10 a.m. at Pearl’s restaurant. Both will finish at Mountain Outfitters in Monteagle. Prizes will be awarded for fastest men’s and women’s 5-mile times. Prize drawings and presentation of winners are planned after the run. All proceeds benefit the Mountain Goat Trail.

Registration for 2- and 5-mile distances is $25 for students; adult registration is $40 until April 10 and $45 on the day of the race. Registration includes Technical T and food at the finish at Mountain Outfitters.

The third Mountain Goat Trail Half Marathon will be held on Saturday, April 11, the same day as the seventh annual 5-mile run and 2-mile walk. Online registration is through UltraSignup until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 10. Event-day registration Saturday morning will be in downtown Tracy City between 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. Online entrants will need to check in at the start.

The run will begin at 8 a.m. in downtown Tracy City, joining the Mountain Goat Trail and finishing at Mountain Outfitters. The race will be timed, and prizes will be awarded. The race route will be announced soon. Prize drawings and presentation of winners are planned after the run. All proceeds benefit the Mountain Goat Trail. Shuttles will be available both days to return runners to the start.

Registration is $35 for students; adult registration is $50, or $60 on the day of the race. Registration includes Technical T and food at the finish at Mountain Outfitters.

​Early Voting Continues

Early voting for the Tuesday, March 3 presidential preference primary and county primary continues through Feb. 25. The last date to request an absentee ballot is Feb. 25.

Early voting takes place at local election commission offices or at another location designated by the election commission. Some counties also offer early voting at satellite locations. Early voting hours are Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m.–noon in Franklin County.

For early voting locations, hours, and sample ballots, contact your local election office. Contact information for election offices can be found at https://sos.tn.gov/elections

Tennesseans voting early or on Election Day should remember to bring valid state or federal photo identification with them to the polls. For information about what types of ID are acceptable, visit <GoVoteTN.com> or call (877) 850-4959.

Voters can also download the GoVoteTN app. Voters can find early voting and Election Day polling locations, view sample ballots, see names of elected officials and districts, as well as access online election results through the application.

On Tuesday, March 3, Election Day, residents vote at their local precinct, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.

The voter registration deadline for the Aug. 6 state primary and county general election is July 7.

​University Decides Municipal Fee Increase for Fiber Project

The fiber-to-the-premises project will improve DREMC’s electrical infrastructure to University leaseholders and expand Ben Lomand’s fiber services to leaseholders on the University of the South’s Domain. The improvements will be available to all leaseholders.

The University has determined that, by applying its usual process for apportioning municipal-type fees, the cost per leasehold will range from $1 to $25 per year, with the majority of leaseholders paying between $2 and $10 per year. The assessment will be made for 10 years. This amount is the charge for the fiber infrastructure only; it has changed since the initial conversations and proposals.

The increase will take effect in September 2020 and will be communicated in August to each leaseholder.

Leaseholders currently pay different municipal fees based on the assessed value of improvements (building or home) as determined by the Franklin County tax assessor.

The University and Community Council found the fiber project to be an important basic service, similar to others for which leaseholders already share the cost (police, fire, and ambulance services, for example).

For more information on the Fiber for Sewanee project, the University has provided a Fiber Project Frequently Asked Questions document, available on the Lease Office website: https://new.sewanee.edu/offices/university-offices...

​The Electoral College: Who Benefits, Who Does Not

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Andrea Hatcher began her Academy for Lifelong Learning lecture on the Electoral College with a brief history lesson. The U.S. constitutional framers arrived at the method for selecting a president after “contentious” debate, Hatcher said, and “none thought well of it.” Hatcher’s University classes focus on American political institutions. Before examining the Electoral College’s shortcomings, Hatcher explained how the U.S. presidential selection process works.

“The November election, is not for the presidential candidates, but for the electors,” Hatcher said. The constitution allocates each state a number of electors equal to their congressional representation, and these electors vote by ballot to select the president. In most states, all the electors are pledged to vote for the winner of the popular vote. In Maine and Nebraska, the electors are pledged to vote according to the popular vote of the district they represent, except for two at-large electors pledged to vote for the state popular-vote winner.

Hatcher pointed out the constitution does not bind electors to vote according to their pledge, but she stressed other problems with the Electoral College system were far more worrisome.

Why does it matter that the Electoral College vote, and not the popular vote, determine who becomes president?

For one, the Electoral College results in “distorted campaign strategies,” Hatcher said. In the 2016 election, the candidates never visited half the states. Candidates focus on the states with a large number of Electoral College votes and the issues important to those states, Hatcher said.

Hatcher also cited the Electoral College’s “potential to magnify fraud.” Hatcher gave the hypothetical example of the 2000 election where Florida’s Electoral College votes determined the winner and the state’s popular vote was extremely close. “Anyone wishing to employ fraudulent means to alter the outcome in the state, and thus the nation, would have had to steal only 538 votes” to determine how all Florida’s Electoral College votes were cast, Hatcher said. In a direct election scenario, it would have been necessary to “manipulate” 540,000 votes. “That was the national popular vote margin between Bush and Gore.”

Summing up, Hatcher called the Electoral College “a distorted counting device.” “In the next election a candidate could win the popular vote by 5 million votes or more and still lose the Electoral College.”

“For us to call ourselves a democracy, the will of the people has to matter, and perhaps matter more than a 200-year-old counting mechanism.”

Addressing possible reforms, Hatcher said states could choose to opt for a districts plan like Maine and New Hampshire for apportioning Electoral College votes. She expressed concern that the system had the potential to further increase gerrymandering and redistricting to influence elections.

Responding to a question from the audience, she said reducing gerrymandering by federally mandating how districting occurred was unlikely since “both major political parties benefit from the system as it’s currently constructed.”

If the United States changed to a direct election system, “presidential candidates would need to clarify their stance and take their case to the entire nation,” Hatcher said. She acknowledged changing to direct election “would be a hard pull as it would require a constitutional amendment. The individuals in charge of making that change are the ones who currently benefit from the system as it exists.”

​Finney to Receive Aiken Taylor Ward

by Bailey Basham,Messenger Staff Writer

When Nikky Finney was younger, she wanted to be a paleontologist. She can remember carrying a tiny book about dinosaurs in her back pocket everywhere she went. She made a point to memorize what era each dinosaur was from, how large its brain was and what it ate.

Many years later, as she prepares to accept the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry, Finney still credits her work to her penchant for unearthing bones—not of dinosaurs but of stories neglected, forgotten or distorted.

“The thing that has survived from those days collecting rocks on my grandparents’ farm is the desire to not harm the thing I’m digging for, but to lift it out of the earth as it is and to lightly brush it off. Not to change it to be what I want it to be, but to report on what I have found,” she said. “That protection and desire has transpired and folded into the language I work with and the stories I tell and the characters I create or illuminate, be they fictive or real.”

Since 1987, the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern Poetry has been awarded to a distinguished poet in the maturity of their career. Next Wednesday, Feb. 12, Finney, author of “Head Off & Split,” which won the 2011 National Book Award in poetry, will be presented with the Aiken Taylor Award. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. in Convocation Hall.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 4:30 p.m., Ross Gay will lecture on Finney’s poetry in the McGriff Alumni House. Gay is the author of three books of poetry, including “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, and “The Book of Delights,” a collection of essays.

Finney has long been a collector of information and became a writer at first without fully realizing it — filling notebooks with her observations of the world, her answers to the why questions that hung over her. She said it was growing up in the 60s when this all began.

Finney lived in a predominantly black community in South Carolina. She remembers existing in two different worlds: the world at home and in the community she knew, and the world that did not know what to do with her.

“Children take in these kinds of things differently, and I couldn’t let it go. My parents were protective of me growing up too fast and wanted to keep me from being hurt by racism and segregation and those things that were so present in the world where I grew up. I had to go looking for those answers myself, and, as a result, I began to jot down and scribble down what I felt about my journey into understanding that piercing hatred, that violence, that world where people were harmed,” she said. “Some of that human condition I didn’t like, but I wasn’t trying to like everything. I was trying to understand. Writing pencil-to-page really helped me interpret worlds from which most of the adults in my life were trying to protect me. I still feel 30, 40 years later that I am trying to understand how we treat each other and the unconsciousness involved in our daily routine as human beings. I find that is still a great motivation to sit down with the page and my pencils and still try to get some answers to rise off that paper,” she said.

Finney is the author of “Rice,” and “The World is Round” and next week, she will debut her newest work, “Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry,” a collection of works about the love songs humming throughout 400 years of Black American life.

Adam Ross, editor of The Sewanee Review, said it is in those works that Finney challenges what we think we know about the human condition and personal histories.

“The Aiken Taylor Award is what we like to call a capstone award. It is an award that recognizes a long career of producing the highest quality work. In Finney’s case, she’s not only written books that have been nationally recognized, but she is also considered by her peers to be a poet of groundbreaking influence,” he said. “All of her work is astonishing, but we’re most excited about her new book, “Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry,” which is a collection of poems, artifacts, and what Finney calls hotbeds. Think of the last as origins of poems, points of inspiration.”

Finney said being born a Black American comes with a double consciousness, referencing the work of W. E. B. DuBois, and it is with the wholeness of lens that she approaches the Aiken Taylor.

“I look at the list of all the folks who have come before me and won this award, and speaking out of that double consciousness, this feels like someone has given me a butterfly or a moth. The magic of the wings themselves requires that you be careful with how you hold it because you do not want to hurt it. You know what an honor it is to hold it. There is a feeling of honor and gratitude that someone hears you, folks who have loved modern poetry for a long, long time, and also a feeling of great power being able to stand and read my work perhaps in a community that has not heard a poet like me before,” she said.

Her advice to young writers? Read everything — books, comics, recipes, how-to guides, history, science, everything you can get your hands on.

“Your job is to know how long a butterfly lives. Your job is to know what it looks like under the hood of a 1953 ford. You have to know what makes a banana pudding fail or succeed. You have to know who won the Pulitzer in 1965. You have to know why turtles can live on land and water. You never know what you will need to know to write the next thing you need to write. You must read comic books, popular mechanics, and how to put up drywall,” she said. “The biggest influence is and continues to be being hungry to learn everything I can about the world around me.”

Finney will receive the Aiken Taylor on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 4:30 p.m., in Convocation Hall. Her new work, “Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry,” will be available for purchase at the reading following the event.

​Sewanee Village Update: Tourism Ideas and Initiatives

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

The February Sewanee Village update meeting focused on tourism as a component of the plan to renovate and rejuvenate the downtown area. Explaining the emphasis on tourism, Sewanee Village Plan coordinator Frank Gladu said, the intention is “to create opportunities so not just the people who live here but also visitors support area businesses and perhaps justify new ones.” Gladu discussed three local tourism initiatives.

During the fall semester, the Carey Fellows, sponsored by the University Babson Center for Global Commerce, researched Sewanee tourism. The students made five recommendations for vitalizing Sewanee’s attraction to tourists: a robust website; a tourism coordinator; student apartments downtown, perhaps as an entitlement to seniors; business incentives in the form of lease reduction proportional to the amount invested; and a village hotel with a nightly rate of $100-$250. The students emphasized affordability, Gladu said, noting an alumni survey likewise cited a need for affordable places to stay.

Touching on another student tourism-research effort, Gladu provided an overview of a spring semester class at Middle Tennessee State University for Tourism and Hospitality majors. The class guides students delving into the Sewanee tourism question. Gladu recently met with the group. The class also plans to meet with Sewanee Village Plan Development Economist Randall Gross.

The third tourism-focused effort comes from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The mission of creating economic vitality in the state prompted the southern Chattanooga district to embrace a tourism-driven plan encompassing the Plateau from Sewanee to Beersheba Springs. A fall survey generated a brand for the area, the Tennessee South Cumberland, with the tagline “Mountains of Adventure.” Suggested subheading topics include “Mountains of History,” “Mountains of Deliciousness” (i.e., restaurants and food initiatives), and “Mountains of Entertainment” (i.e., the Caverns music venue).

The project coordinators “would like the different areas to come up with their own stories,” Gladu said. He stressed the project was still in its infancy, but he noted the branding exercise has propelled the effort to the grant writing stage. Gladu lauded the momentum behind the initiative, particularly the work of Grundy County Mayor Michael Brady. “Brady’s tenacious on tourism and has been very involved.”

Turning to progress on the Sewanee Village priority projects, Gladu said the Tennessee Department of Transportation had moved into the right-of-way phase on the plan to narrow U.S. Highway 41A. The proposal calls for a drainage easement and minor temporary construction easements as well as a few small acquisitions to create turn radiuses. TDOT will hold a public information session in March, possibly in conjunction with the Sewanee Village update meeting.

Commenting on the progress of the bookstore, Gladu said, “Not much appears to be happening on the exterior, but a lot is happening on the interior.” The bookstore dedication is scheduled for 4 p.m., Friday, April 24.

​Ginger Presents ‘Voice of Woman’ Recital

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Kerry Ginger has been singing for most of her life, but it was not until she found herself on the campus of Whitman College, a small, liberal arts school much like Sewanee, that she decided to pursue music professionally.

“At Whitman, there was this wonderful, vibrant music department, and my senior year as I was completing my thesis, I was starting to take as many music classes as I could to make the shift for my masters in opera performance,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to be able to try out a lot of things in college, and though I still love thinking about political theory, my music coursework was the most exciting to me. That led to me getting a masters and a doctorate in voice.”

At 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 12, in Guerry Auditorium, Ginger will present “Voice of Woman” as part of Sewanee’s celebration of 50 years of women at the University. Pianist Zachary Zwahlen will accompany her.

“Voice of Woman” is a program of art song and musical theatre celebrating inclusion through dynamic 20th- and 21st-century works by women. Exploring marginalized narratives, pioneering compositional styles and the power of the female voice, the performance culminates in a setting of social activist Margaret Widdemer’s demand for equal access, in “The Women’s Litany.”

“I’ve been at Sewanee since August of last year, and I only learned about 50 years of women during my interview. I had been considering doing a program that raised women’s voices before I even got here, so learning that was a wonderful, serendipitous occasion,” she said. “What better way to celebrate women’s inclusion here than a recital that focuses on the inclusion of the voices that are not always included or listened to.”

The program will feature music by Juliana Hall, Alma Mahler, Judith Cloud, Jocelyn Hagen, Lucy Simon, and more.

“I’m billing the program as a celebration of the power of women’s voices, and I mean that in many senses. Musically, simply the sound and biology of women’s voices has been celebrated throughout the history of singing, but they’ve been left unwelcomed at the table when it comes to creating art and earning recognition as composers. It was important to me to include women composers. The poetry has many women’s perspectives that sometimes are not heard in the greater conversation. Just like women coming onto the campus 50 years ago and building a voice that is heard, I thought I could draw parallel through that process.

Ginger said the importance in having women composers represented is that their voices offer a fresh perspective on an old story.

“One of the programs is of a suffragist describing how women have contributed for so long but have not been recognized. A couple of my favorites are retellings of Greek myths. This helps flip the script. That is why it is so important to have creators who are women at the table,” she said.

This program, offered as part of the commemoration of 50 Years of Women at Sewanee with support from the Sewanee Music Department, is free and open to the public.

​Sewanee’s Community Engagement Efforts Recognized with Carnegie Classification

The Carnegie Foundation has selected the University of the South for its 2020 Community Engagement Classification, a designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement. The classification was assigned after an extensive review of the college’s serious and sustained commitment to community engagement. Sewanee is one of only 18 U.S. liberal arts colleges focusing on the arts and sciences to receive this designation in 2020. A total of 119 institutions were classified.

“The Carnegie Foundation has acknowledged Sewanee’s excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, and resources, and its deep and significant commitment to community engagement,” said Vice-Chancellor and President John M. McCardell. “The dynamic and innovative work of the Office of Civic Engagement since its inception in 2015 has benefited the communities in which it works around the world, but especially here on the South Cumberland Plateau. My wife Bonnie and I are delighted to have played a role in supporting the University’s community engagement mission, and look forward to its momentum continuing.”

Sewanee civic engagement programming seeks to engage with and benefit local communities. Partnering with the South Cumberland Community Fund in an innovative university-community collaboration, the Office of Civic Engagement supports an award-winning Americorps VISTA Program, a grants program, and a Sewanee student philanthropy program that distributes up to $30,000 per year to local organizations.

“This recognition by the Carnegie Foundation acknowledges the success of our unique model of cooperation with the University, a partnership between an institution of higher education and a rural philanthropic organization,” said Sheri Lawrence, the South Cumberland Community Fund board chair. “Together, we are achieving our mission of building on the strength of the area’s people, communities, and natural setting by enhancing community capacity and collaboration, and supporting innovative ways to solve community problems.”

More than 80 percent of Sewanee students participate in some form of community service before they graduate. Director of Civic Engagement and Professor of Philosophy Jim Peterman points out that “the hallmark of Sewanee’s civic engagement is the way in which it seeks to achieve its mission: ‘To cultivate knowledge, resources, and relationships to advance the economic, social, and environmental well-being of our communities.’ We envision,” he said, “a Sewanee committed to active global citizenship, where community members, students, staff, and faculty work together for meaningful change.”

Sewanee’s civic engagement programs are wide-ranging. Students work in 75 local academic-year internships to support Sewanee’s network of community partner organizations. Sewanee also offers long-term projects in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Miami, and elsewhere as part of its “alternative break” program. The Canale Summer Civic Engagement internships and other internships offer intensive summer work experience locally, domestically, and internationally.

Faculty and students work in 24 academic courses per year to integrate academic learning with community benefits—the heart of Sewanee’s academic civic engagement work. And the Civic and Global Leadership Certificate program offers two academic tracks and culminates in a senior capstone project.

The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 14 years. The classification is awarded following a process of self-study by each institution, which is then assessed by a national review committee led by the Swearer Center for Public Engagement at Brown University, the administrative and research home for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.

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