IA slots open for Sullivan eighth-graders

Rick Wagner • Jul 23, 2013 at 11:22 PM

KINGSPORT — Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee still has spaces available for Sullivan County eighth-graders.

Students in grades six, seven and eight in the county and Kingsport systems still can seek a slot at the joint city-county STEM — or science, technology, engineering and mathematics — school.

As designed, the school that begins its second year Aug. 5 is supposed to have 240 students, or 40 in each grade from each school system.

During Tuesday afternoon’s IA Governing Board meeting, city system spokesman Andy True said that the city, as of that morning, had 32 sixth-graders, 36 seventh-graders and 35 eighth-graders confirmed, with 21 sixth-graders, four seventh-graders and three eighth-graders still on a waiting list.

In the county, confirmations are for 39 sixth-graders, 41 seventh-graders and 26 eighth-graders. Since siblings of existing students get priority, sometimes more than 40 students per system are allowed.

IA Principal Sandy Watkins said the county system has five sixth-graders and five eighth-graders on a waiting list.

As in the first year, the two systems used an open lottery process to select students. The last deadline for a second round of submissions was July 10, but prospective students can still submit their names.

“We need a few more eighth-graders,” IA board Vice Chairman and county school board Vice Chairman Jack Bales said.

Watkins said students may apply at the online portal on IA’s website, http://ianetn.org/, or call the school at 354-1736.

On other matters, the governing board voted to fund a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) related arts teacher, at a cost of about $52,000, and a contracted band director, at a cost of up to $30,000, from Race to the Top (RTTT) grant funds.

Kingsport Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said school officials will work with Lafe Cook, Dobyns-Bennett High School band director, to get input on contracting a band instructor and how much time is needed from a part-time employee.

This will mark the first use of the RTTT grant being used for personnel costs, which otherwise are paid by the city and county systems. The Battelle Memorial Foundation must approve the proposals, but Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said he already has informal verbal approval for it.

The county is providing a physical and wellness education teacher, while Kingsport is providing a multimedia teacher for art and music, Yennie said.

In other action, the board voted to approve the posting of a part-time grant writing position for IA from money already included in the budget and approved in the 2013-14 IA budget.

Yennie said the two systems have spent about half the money from the $1 million RTTT grant but that expenses came in lower than projected in things such as contracts with bus owners, other contracted services and consultants, so money is available for the PLTW and band funding and the two systems will not have to put in as much money to the school as last year.

The 2012-13 IA budget was $1,132,150 as amended, but the 2013-14 budget is $1,017,659. That does not include the English, math, social studies and science teachers the two systems provide from their regular education budgets. That works out to six teachers per system this coming year plus three related arts teachers. Last year, students took related arts classes in the afternoon at a base or home school.

Another cost savings is that IA’s meals will be provided the cafeteria at Sullivan North High and Middle schools.

Watkins said meals would be salads or sandwiches on whole wheat bread and that she hopes to have an iCafe program in place this fall measuring student caloric intake each day, tying into the wellness curriculum, and allowing students to access iPads during lunch.

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