FC Schools: Learning Loss, New Administrators, Policies

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the July 12 Franklin County School Board meeting, Director of Schools Stanley Bean provided an overview of the school system’s plans for addressing learning loss occurring as a result of the pandemic. The board also met new administrators and approved new and amended policies reviewed at the July 8 working session.

Drawing on federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSR) monies for funding, each school will have a learning loss coordinator, Bean said, and the elementary and middle schools will have educational assistants to work one-on-one with students. The ESSR money must be spent within three years. “It will take two years to get back to where we need to be,” Bean predicted. Kim Tucker, Elementary Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction, said assessments would determine which students needed assistance and in what areas. The supplemental instruction will occur during time already built into the school-day schedule for Response to Intervention for at-risk students. The school system hired seven new teachers with ESSR funds. The teachers were made aware the positions could be temporary.

New school system administrators introduced themselves to the board. Holly Eslick, who has been with the county schools 13 years, will be the new principal at North Middle School. Chris Hobbs, who served seven years at Franklin County High School (FCHS) as assistant principal, will move into the principal role at South Middle School. Tara Brewer, with 10 years in special ed at the high school, will be assistant principal at South. FCHS will welcome James Carr and Jeannie Miller into assistant principal roles. Carr and Miller have served as instructors at FCHS since 1996. Sherry Sells, who has taught at North Lake Elementary for 24 years, will rise to the role of principal in the fall. Allison Dietz, who just completed her first year as Sewanee Elementary principal, has been with the county schools for 15 years. Barbara King, who has 20 years’ experience as an educator, will take the newly created role of elementary school’s assistant principal, filling in when principals are absent and assuming other duties as needed.

Turning to the policies reviewed at the July 8 workshop [see “Franklin County Schools to Relax Dress Code”], Human Resources Supervisor Linda Foster called the board’s attention to a point of clarification on the Emergency Closings policy. A state law mandated clause in the policy forbids employees from being declared essential and so exempt from emergency school closings. Foster consulted with school system attorney Chuck Cagle who advised the policy “had no bearing” on the director of schools’ ability to ask some employees to work on days the schools closed for inclement weather.

On the Code of Conduct policy, Foster moved advice on Trauma Informed disciplinary practices and other more positive methods of discipline to the top of the list of disciplinary options for each category of misbehaviors. On the recommendation of board member Sarah Marhevsky, Foster removed corporal punishment as a disciplinary option for Level 1 Misbehaviors, which includes actions such as classroom disturbances and tardiness.

Board member Sarah Liechty voiced strong approval for removing corporal punishment. Liechty said she would also like to see the policy call for behavior assessment and a behavior plan before punitive measures were taken. Liechty voted against approving the policy.

In discussion about the more lenient dress code policy, board member Chris Guess objected to allowing piercings, pointing to possible injury from nose and tongue rings getting ripped out. Guess voted against approving the revised dress code.

Facilities Supervisor Mark Montoye updated the board on the fire at Decherd Elementary School. Montoye said all contents in the wing where the fire occurred were declared a total loss. Anything that might have absorbed smoke would be replaced. Montoye said he hoped the building would be ready by the time school started but cautioned getting materials to remodel the wing could slow progress. Bean said a power strip exploded causing the fire. Nothing was plugged into the strip when the explosion occurred.