Innovation Academy likely to add band to curriculum for next year

Rick Wagner • May 8, 2013 at 10:42 PM

KINGSPORT — Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee’s 2013-14 related arts curriculum is likely to include band, school officials said Wednesday.

And students still will be allowed to return to base or home schools to play sports as they are this year, officials said.

IA is operated jointly by Kingsport and Sullivan County. In its first year of operation, the facility offered classes to sixth- and seventh-graders. In August, the program will be expanded to eighth-graders.

Current IA students, a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) school, go back to a base school for related arts — including band — athletics and other after-school programs.

“We’re probably able to deliver two periods of band” per school day, Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said. “It’s an expressed desire from the community.”

He said an as-yet unnamed county band director will serve IA two periods a day and that both systems will work together on other details.

Kingsport Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said that to continue going back to base schools for after-school athletics requires IA to continue operating without a Tennessee school number. If it had a number, students from each sport could play specific sports for only one school, under Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association rules.

Principal Sandy Watkins said 59 of the current 130 students play sports at a base or home school.

The only catch is that for the band, athletics and other plans to work is the Kingsport and Sullivan County school transportation officials must reach a consensus on bus schedules and school day schedules now 35 minutes apart.

The board set a deadline of May 17 for the transportation and school day decisions to be made. That will allow parents and students time to ponder those before the May 24 deadline for potential new students to apply for the lottery for open slots and existing students to file their intent to attend next school year.

“I don’t want to leave it lingering,” said Randy Montgomery, chairman of the governing body and president of the Kingsport Board of Education.

Currently, the city system, based on transportation parameters of getting city children from home schools to IA and back again, has proposed a 7:25 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. school day, while the county is looking at an 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. schedule.

The seven-hour day allows hours to be “banked” for potential use as snow makeup days.

During the school’s almost 90-minute governing board meeting at IA on Wednesday afternoon, officials from both systems also discussed plans that include the county providing one related arts teacher, the city another and a third physical education instruction position to be shared by a city and county teacher each coming there part of the week.

Kingsport Assistant Superintendent Dory Creech said Kingsport can provide a PE teacher two days a week, while she said county Assistant Superintendent David Timbs has said the county could provide “half a teacher” for PE.

That would more or less fit Principal Sandy Watkins’ plans to have a multi-media related arts class for arts and music, a Project Lead the Way engineering class and a STEM wellness/physical education class.

Also, city school system spokesman Andy True gave an update on new applications and re-enrollment data. Each system is to have 40 students per grade, for a total of 240 students.

True said new applicants so far were 64 rising sixth-graders for 40 city slots and 41 rising sixth-graders for 40 county slots.

New applicants for seventh grade numbered 22 from the city and 12 from the county, while those for the eighth grade were 25 from the city and four from the county.

It will remain unknown until May 24 how many open seventh- and eighth-grade slots will be available for new students. Information and applications are available at the IA website: www.ianetn.org.

Slots are to be filled at the next IA meeting, which has been pushed forward from the original May 28 meeting to sometime later that same week.

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