No choices made yet for joint school committee

Rick Wagner • Nov 14, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Sullivan County and Kingsport school officials weren’t ready to make appointments to a joint school facilities committee due Friday, but they said they plan to make the appointments early this week.

The group — with two city system representatives, two county system representatives and a fifth person appointed by the first four — is charged with making a recommendation or recommendations on how to best utilize county and city school facilities affected by the city’s urban growth boundary, a “smart growth” area in which the city can annex with little chance of successful legal challenges.

Projections show decreasing county school enrollment because of an aging population and to a lesser extent annexation, while city projections indicate a growth in enrollment and the need for additional schools or major expansions.

Kingsport Superintendent Richard Kitzmiller and city Board of Education President Susan Lodal — with input from the four other city BOE members — are to appoint a facilities person and curriculum person to the committee. Kingsport City Schools spokeswoman Amy Greear said Kitzmiller and Lodal were not ready Friday to make the appointments.

Sullivan County Director of Schools Jack Barnes and county BOE Chairman Ron Smith — with input from the six other county BOE members — are to appoint a facilities person and curriculum person to the committee.

“We haven’t yet decided on our choices for the committee. It will probably be the first of the week or so,” Barnes said Friday. “I talked with Richard (Kitzmiller), and he said the same thing. I don’t think it will be much longer (than Monday or Tuesday).”

The two system heads and many Central Office personnel and school board members from the two systems are currently in Nashville for the Tennessee School Boards Association fall meeting.

The four school system members are to appoint a fifth, outside member by Nov. 20 but can have more time if needed, which Barnes said was likely.

Based on an agreement by the two school boards at a joint meeting facilitated by David McClaskey, president of Pal’s Business Excellence Institute and a quality management expert, the five-member group is to have final recommendations to Kitzmiller, Lodal, Barnes and Smith by Feb. 9 and — if those four agree to move forward — to a joint city-county BOE meeting Feb. 16.

Key stakeholders and guiding principles were approved during the joint meeting of the school boards held at Ross N. Robinson Middle School Tuesday night. They are:

•County and city students and parents: Minimize disruption for students.

•City and county citizens: Manage operating and capital outlay for school facilities consistent with high-quality education. Maintain appropriate access for all students.

•County and city teachers: Minimize negative impact on teachers’ ability to teach. Take into account personnel positions to the extent possible.

•City and county school staff: Keep offices process effective and efficient for high-quality education and the same personnel issue as teachers.

•County and city school boards: Manage operating and capital outlay, same as citizens, and maintain appropriate access for students, same as citizens.

•Board of Mayor and Aldermen, County Commission and county mayor: Manage operating and capital outlay, same as school boards, and maintain appropriate access for students, same as citizens.

Recommendations could include the city taking over or acquiring county school buildings or sharing operation of some schools.

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