Schools in Sullivan County may begin Aug. 5 next year

Rick Wagner • Nov 13, 2012 at 11:26 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — An earlier start to the school year could be in the future for Sullivan County.

Parents and teachers of county students will get to give feedback by choosing between two 2013-14 school year calendar proposals in an online survey, the school board decided in a 7-0 vote Tuesday night.

One of the proposals, chosen from three plans students services supervisor Lib Sells presented to the Board of Education, would start school Aug. 5 with a half day of school. Sells said that would closely mirror what Kingsport’s school calendar may look like.

“That’s a consideration because of Innovation Academy,” Sells said of a joint school of Kingsport and the county. That calendar has a five-day fall break in October but starts a week earlier than county schools normally do. Spring break would be in early April.

The other proposal starts Aug. 12, but has a two- day fall break in October coupled with a weekend and keeps the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as a day off. Spring break would be in mid-March.

A third proposal the board chose not to present to parents and teachers would start Aug. 12 but has what Sells called the major drawback of having students off the week of Thanksgiving, which falls later in the month, and high school students coming back to take end-of-course tests straight off a holiday break. Spring break would have been the third week of March.

All three proposals would maintain a two-week Christmas break.

On other matters, the board:

•Voted 6-1 to adopt on third and final reading an amended attendance zones policy. Lone no voter Todd Broughton said he had issues with the “emergency” rezoning policy not having a specific required time period for notice of a rezoning plan, although member Betty Combs said emergencies could require overnight action.

•Voted 7-0 to approve a third and final reading of an amended nepotism policy that prohibits close family members from supervising one another. However, it specifically exempted administrators and teachers currently in that situation unless it presents a future conflict or potential conflict.

BOE member Robyn Ivestor said for the record those grandfathered were assistant principal Hank Hare and teacher Beth Hare at Mary Hughes School, a married couple, and assistant principal Sherry Hooks and teacher Laura Hooks of South High, a mother and daughter.

•Voted 7-0 to accept a $44,400 Safe Schools Grant from the state of Tennessee and, with state permission, voted 7-0 to transfer $115,000 in Basic Education Program funds reserved for one-time expenses to cover a shortfall in the more than $15 million Ketron Elementary renovation and expansion project.

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