Director of Schools reports increased enrollment in Obion County

by Benita Fuzzell
‘REEL’ CAMP READERS AT SFE – Students who attended the ‘Camp Reel’ at South Fulton Elementary this summer were among those recognized during the regular session of the Obion County School Board Aug. 5, along with counterparts from Ridgemont School, who also conducted the reading-related camp, funded through the awarding of a grant. SFES Principal Laura Pitts introduced SFES faculty who conducted the camp, including Penny Burton, Christa Hankins, Laura Murphy and Amanda Wilder, as well as asked for comments from camp participants. (Photo by Benita Fuzzell.) ‘REEL’ CAMP READERS AT SFE – Students who attended the ‘Camp Reel’ at South Fulton Elementary this summer were among those recognized during the regular session of the Obion County School Board Aug. 5, along with counterparts from Ridgemont School, who also conducted the reading-related camp, funded through the awarding of a grant. SFES Principal Laura Pitts introduced SFES faculty who conducted the camp, including Penny Burton, Christa Hankins, Laura Murphy and Amanda Wilder, as well as asked for comments from camp participants. (Photo by Benita Fuzzell.)

Members of the Obion County School Board were provided with information about the inaugural session of the Read to be Ready Summer Grant Program, conducted at South Fulton Elementary and Ridgemont Schools this Summer, during the Aug. 5 regular board session, the first board meeting conducted by recently hired Director of Schools Dr. Tim Watkins.

Board members Fritz Fussell, Brian Rainey, Keisha Hooper, Tim Britt, Barry Adams, Jared Poore and Kyle Baggett convened at the central office for the August board session, and heard from South Fulton teaches Christa Hankins, Laura Murphy Penny Burton and Amanda Wilder, as well as Ridgemont teachers Kelli Wisener, Tracy Dyer, Jenny Crittendon and Katie Ramsey, about the summer program, which focused on instilling a desire to read in students.

South Fulton Elementary Principal Laura Pitts introduced SFES teachers Christa Hankins, Laura Murphy, Penny Burton and Amanda Wilder, all of whom worked in the program at the school this summer, Camp Reel.

Each SFES teacher, and Ridgemont counterparts described the methods used to enhance the reading experience with students who attended the camp, with all participants receiving 27 books to take home, in addition to a backpack and t-shirt. Data collected at the beginning and end of the camp session exhibited substantial improvements made regarding each student’s growth and improvement in reading and writing,

Pitts told the board following the completion of paperwork submitted last Summer, the schools were awarded $37,000 for the 37 students who attended both camps, where Trudy’s Cafe also provided breakfast and lunch each day.

The camps’ activities included field trips to Reelfoot Lake and Discovery Park of America, as well as a visit from the author of a book which students were able to read, or have read to them during the camp session.

In the personnel report presented, resignations listed included Elizabeth Burton, Black Oak food service, Carolyn Dickson, Lake Road food service, Patricia Haynes, Ridgemont food service, Kandace Jackson, South Middle/High business teacher, Laura Plunk, Behavior Analyst, district wide, Mason Storey, PE teacher and girls basketball coach at Hillcrest, Myra Couch, night shift custodian at Lake Road, Amy Fisher, health science teacher at SFMH, Graham Smith, Chemistry teacher at Obion County Central, Laura Ashley Chism, administrative assistant, Ashley Martin, Algebra I teacher at SFMH, Dorothy Davis, Special education teacher at Obion County Central, Wendy Pint, educational assistant at Lake Road, Lucy Truett, kindergarten teacher at Ridgemont, Katie Creswell, nurse at Ridgemont and Theresa Ingram, custodian at South Fulton Elementary.

Retirements were announced for Cheri Grisham, educational assistant at Ridgemont and JoAnn Brown, educational assistant at Lake Road.

Leaves of absence were reported for Mollie Scott, teacher at Obion County Central, Tiffany Gammons, teacher at Lake Road, Ali Daniel, special education teacher at Hillcrest and Shanna Duren, food service at Hillcrest.

Transfers were reported for Sandy Simmons, principal at Ridgemont, Jon Kerr, principal at Black Oak, Cindy Tilman, night shirt 200 day custodian at Lake Road, Melissa Merritt, Assistant principal at Ridgemont, Lance Gray, PE teacher, girls basketball coach at Hillcrest and Mindy Coursey, Literacy coach/district wide.

New hires in the system reported were Heather Butler, PE and fifth grade teacher at Black Oak, Amber Hall Tate, fourth grade teacher at Black Oak, Johnny Dyer, seventh and eighth grade history teacher, and assistant football coach at Ridgemont, Robert Stephenson, bus driver at Lake Road, James Chad Malray, business education teacher and assistant football coach at South Fulton Middle/High, Heather Horner, third grede teacher at South Fulton Elementary, Phyllis Eaton, food service at SFE, Simone Wisdom, school nurse at Hillcrest, Donya Angel, health science teacher at Obion Central, Meridith Mancell, eighth grade teacher at Hillcrest, Amber Garrigus, special ed. teacher at Obion Central, Cori Tucker, AGP teacher at Obion Central, Kathy Essary, school nurse at Ridgemont, Shara Mobbs, chemistry teacher at Obion Central, Gary Lannom, history teacher at Obion Central, Marilauren, Rogers, algebra I teacher at SFHS, Donna Bowers, pre-K teacher at Hillcrest, Ericka Reaves, kindergarten teacher at Ridgemont, Carmen Barclay, health science teacher at SFMS/HS, Moranda Johns, fifth grade math teacher at South Fulton Elementary, Amy Windsor, third grade teacher at Ridgemont, Ashtyn Bragg, educational assistant ta Lake Road, Teresa McFarland, special education educational assistant at SFE and Terry Reed, bus driver at Lake Road.

Consideration and approval was given by the board to proceed with the declaration of textbooks, school buses and a vehicle, to dispose of each in the most economical method.

Among items approved for the surplussing and disposal in the most economical manner were four school buses, a 1993 pickup truck and a number of outdated and/or unusable text books.

In accordance with the TCA 49-2-604 and 49-2-605, which provides a school support organization shall annually submit a form to the director of schools verifying its continued existence as a non-profit organization and other information, organizations listed in compliance, having fulfilled the submission of the required information, were listed with the following in compliance: Balck Oak PTO, Hillcrest Booster Club, Hillcrest PTO, Lake Road PTO, Obion Central Anglers, OCCHS Band Boosters, Lady Rebels Diamond Club, and Rebounders Club, Obion County Central Pom Club, Obion County Central Quarterback Club, Obion County Rebel Sliders, Runnin Rebels Booster Club, Ridgemont PTO, South Fulton Band Boosters and South Fulton Athletic Boosters. Ridgemont Junior High Booster Club was listed as disbanded.

There were 10 items for consideration by the board, as to approval for amendments to board policies regarding Board Minutes, Alcohol and Drugs in the Workplace, Surplus Property Sales, Fundraising Activities, Emergency Preparedness Plan, Graduation Requirements, Testing Programs, Attendance, Bus Safety and Conduct and Students from Military Families.

Regarding board minutes, the amendment allows for the distribution of meeting minutes by a method such as email, and not just through mail, and regarding Alcohol and Drugs in the Workplace, “Illegal drugs”, “Unauthorized drugs” and “Alcohol” is more specifically defined for inclusion in the policy as to prohibited items.

As to the proposed policy amendment regarding fundraising, fundraisers shall be authorized by the board and be for the purpose of supplementing funds for established school programs and not for replacing funds which are the responsibility of the board, with fundraisers to include online fundraisers. However, with the amendment, fundraising for noneducational purposes may be authorized on approval by a principal fo bereavement support, award recognition employee morale, banquets or situations at the principal’s discretion.

The Emergency Preparedness Plan policy amendment cited the principal as to who would ensure the school safety team conducts at least one armed intruder drill annually, incoordination with local law enforcement and all schools shall conduct a CPR and AED drill, with the principal to ensure the drill occurs.

An additional requirement was included in the amendment of policy for students to graduate, which states the student must pass a United States civics test, along with previous requirements of acquiring 22 credits, end of course exams, satisfactory records of attendance and conduct and the taking of the ACT or SAT prior to graduation.

The board considered and determined the amendment specifics regarding Testing Programs, namely as to TNReady and EOC scores for the percentage of inclusion in the student’s final grades.

In regard to the amendment to board policy relating to Testing Programs, the board followed the recommendation of the Director of Schools, who reported he had consulted with system staff, ultimately suggesting TNReady scores account for 10% of grades for students in third through fifth grades; 10% of the grades for students in grades six through eight; and 15% of grade for students in grades nine through 12.

Watkins’ recommendation, approved by the board, was to have middle school students participate in interest inventory and Career Assessment testing and eighth grade students participate in career aptitude testing, in preparation for high school.

As to an amendment to board policy regarding attendance, a revision was made as to non-school sponsored extracurricular activity, providing for the principal or designee to excuse a student to participate in non-school sponsored extracurricular activities following request, to be provided in writing, for the student’s name, grade, identification, dates of absence, reason for absence and signature of student and parent or guardian.

Use of photographs and video footage if applicable, included in the board policy regarding bus safety, was amended to allow that photographs and video footage shall be used only to promote the order, safety and security of students, staff and property on buses, with the district to comply with all applicable state and federal laws related to photographs and video footage, with materials to be maintained for 30 days or more if necessary, and parents or guardians able to submit requests to view potographs or video to the Director of schools or designee.

The final amendment listed on the night’s agenda for board consideration applied to students from military families, to provide proof of residency within the school district within a specified number of days from enrollment, with the board opting to amend the time to 30 days.

In the Director’s Report, Watkins reported the Obion County School system’s enrollment numbers were up, over last year, for the 2019-2020 school year, with the Director noting there were three grade levels which were being watched, as to numbers, with possible adjustments as needed, regarding the hiring of additional staff.