​School Pickup Traffic Endangers Children

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“We’ve got a problem with the schools being inundated with vehicles at 1:30 p.m.,” insisted board member Chris Guess at the Sept. 9 meeting of the Franklin County School Board. “A fire truck or ambulance wouldn’t be able to get to the school if there was an emergency.”
“Franklin County High School keeps a lane open,” Guess said, “but the elementary schools don’t. At Clark Memorial pickup cars start arriving at 1:15 p.m. when the kids don’t get out until 3 p.m.”
“It’s also a security issue,” said school system safety specialist Mark Montoye. “We don’t know who’s in all those cars. We can’t ID them.”
Montoye suggested signage reading: “No one allowed in pickup line until 2:30 p.m.”
School board member Sara Liechty asked if it was possible to have multiple locations where students could be picked up. “We need to make pickup as efficient as possible,” Liechty said.
The board will attempt to address the problem by controlling when cars begin arriving.
Turning to new policies and policy changes recommended by the Tennessee School Board Association, the board approved four policies and deferred a decision on one.
The overhaul of the School District Planning policy brought the district’s strategic planning practices in line with state reporting requirements.
The new District Water Testing policy, likewise a response to state regulations, requires testing drinking water for lead at all schools built after 1998. “All the schools except Franklin County High School will need to be tested every two years,” noted Assistant Superintendent Linda Foster. Anticipating the policy and state mandate, a project by Cowan Elementary and South Middle School students won regional honors last year for a prototype lead-detection alarm for school water fountains.
The revised Attendance policy removed college visits from the list of excused absences. Instead, under the new Attendance During Post Secondary Visits policy, juniors and seniors making college visits will be counted “present” for a period of up to three days. However, the new policy stipulates the students “will not be counted present during travel days.”
Responding to board members concern that college-visit travel days would count as unexcused absences, Foster pointed out school principals could excuse students in circumstances “over which the student has no control.”
Board Vice Chair Lance Williams recommended “letting the principals work it out.”
“We’ll need to depend on principals using discretion,” agreed Board Chair Cleijo Walker.
The major change in the TSBA recommended Homebound Instruction policy added language to provide specifically for students with “chronic medical conditions,” where absence from the classroom might be staggered as opposed to over a period of consecutive days.
Liechty questioned removing the requirement a homebound teacher hold an endorsement in the field for which they were providing instruction.
Foster speculated circumstance might dictate the need for a homebound teacher to provide instruction in more than one area, including areas where they lacked endorsement. The board will revisit the policy after Foster researches the issue.
The board also approved purchase of a basketball shooting machine for use by the FCHS boys’ basketball program. “There’s a lot that doesn’t work on the machine they have now,” Walker said. Trading in the old machine will reduce the cost by $750, bringing the total to $5,745. The Booster Club will make a donation to help offset the expense.
The board reelected Walker chair and Williams as vice chair for the 2018–19 school year.
The board meets next Oct. 8.