​School Board Considers New Middle School Sites; Elects Officers

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Accessibility issues dominated the Franklin County School Board’s discussion about proposed sites for the new middle school at the Sept. 14 meeting. Research by board member Lance Williams identified four prospective sites: Bible Crossing Road, Sharp Springs Road, Baxter Lane in the vicinity of Franklin County High School, and a site near North Middle School.
Tim Little representing the engineering firm Oliver, Little, and Gipson (OLG) said three of the proposed sites met the 40-acre minimum requirement.
Board member Christine Hopkins said the site that was too small was “the most accessible,” offering three entrance opportunities.
“Purchasing adjoining parcels is a possibility,” Williams said. The school system would need to purchase four parcels to put together 40-acres at the 28-acre Baxter Lane site. The site also borders Hwy. 64 and Modena Road. Franklin County owns the 28-acre tract.
Hopkins stressed the importance of determining whether the sites under consideration were serviced by city, county or state highways. Board member Chris Guess will research the issue. The board will continue the discussion at the Oct. 2 work session.
The board elected Cleijo Walker to continue as board chair and Lance Williams to continue as vice chair for the 2017-2018 school year.
The board approved several minor policy revisions. Significantly, the revised School Support Organizations policy requires a school system employee to serve as a liaison between support organizations and the school system.
Assistant Superintendant Linda Foster stressed the “vital role” parent organizations and parent teacher organizations played. The policy, however, prohibits school employees from serving as officers in support organizations, since the organizations frequently collect donations and make contributions to the schools and school programs. For a school employee to serve as an officer “would make this a school activity,” Foster said. The liaison “cannot touch the money” and serves in an advisory capacity.
Having a school employee liaison also has the advantage of providing continuity, Director of Schools Stanley Bean pointed out, since support organization governing officers often change from one year to the next.
The board also approved a Voluntary Pre-K Attendance policy recommended by the Tennessee School Board Association. The new policy sets criteria for student dismissal in cases of repeated absence.
Pre-K is voluntary, and there are limited spaces available. The new policy provides a means of making spaces available if students are not attending, board member Sara Liechty noted.
The board reviewed suggested policy changes streamlining the approval process for field trips and excursions. Bean recommended further simplification. He proposed assigning final approval for overnight trips to the director of school and final approval of day trips to the principal. The board will revisit the policy amendment at the Oct. 2 working session.
Kelly May, director of the nonprofit Rain Unlimited, appealed to the board to transfer ownership of the Townsend School property to the organization for use as a teen center and hub for nonprofits, providing office and meeting space. The board received a similar request from a group seeking to establish a Head Start program at the former Townsend School. Other entities have expressed an interest in purchasing portions of the property. The neighboring community favors tearing down the building and using the site for a park and memorial.
The board’s next regular meeting is Oct. 9.