D-B EXCEL would allow part-time home school students under proposed policy change

Rick Wagner • Mar 3, 2016 at 10:30 PM

KINGSPORT — D-B EXCEL, Kingsport City Schools’ optional high school, would allow homeschool students to attend part-time next school year, under a policy change approved by the school board on the first of two readings Thursday night.

The policy change would would result in Tennessee funding proportional to how much time they spend at D-B EXCEL, and it also would open up the legal door for them to try out for TSSAA-sanctioned sport teams at Dobyns-Bennett High School. The Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association governs all high school sports in Tennessee except swimming.

The Board of Education also voted to approve in principle the lease/purchase agreement to move D-B EXCEL, a mix of virtual and blended learning school officials said has outgrown its current home. The school system would pay anywhere from $1.7 million to almost $2.5 million for more than 15,000 square feet of Press Building adjacent to the KCS Administrative Support Center.

Outright purchase the first year would be $1,781,200, at year two would be $1,693,300, year five 1,403,000 and year 10 $785,300. The condominium space automatically would become the school systems in year 15, although owner Cayenne Rental Properties General Partnership would take a tax donation write off of almost $2.5 million at that time, with incremental write offs if the school system exercised its purchase options along the 15 years.

School officials have said D-B EXCEL is outgrowing its home at Cora Cox Academy, the old Lee School building near Holston Valley Medical Center. After the move, which Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said he hopes would be by the start of the 2016-17 school year in early August or no later than after fall break that school year, the alternative or disciplinary school operation in modular units at Cora Cox would move into the main building after EXCEL, which stands for Excellence in a Creative Environment for Learning.

BOE member Todd Golden, who was absent Thursday night, brought up the idea of having homeschool students attend D-B EXCEL part-time last year, saying it would fill a demand among homeschool students and bring in some revenue to the school system. Since the state of Tennessee funds public schools based on average daily membership each year, the homeschool students who take one or more classes at D-B EXCEL could attend classes at D-B EXCEL in person, online or a mix of the two, just as full-time students do. Although TSSAA sports would be open to them, Ailshie said band, clubs and other extra-curricular or co-curricular activites would not.

For any homeschool students starting this fall, that would mean more money for the school system in 2017-18. For instance, Ailshie said that a student who attended 25 percent of a full load of classes in 2016-17 would increase the state funding for the city system. The normal state allocation per student is more than $8,000 a year.

The board also approved on first of two readings a policy change that specifies the school system would not provide transportation to such part-time students.

The second a final votes on the policy changes for KCS is to come at the April 7 BOE meeting.

The move by KCS comes after Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill earlier this week that would have allowed homeschool students to participate on public school sports teams in the commonwealth. According to accounts in the National Review and other media, the bill was dubbed the “Tebow Bill” after former University of Florida star and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, who played high school football in suburban Jacksonville, Fla., while being homeschooled.

In other action, the board:

_ Recommended Board of Aldermen approval to purchase property at 2304 Overlook Road, near Jefferson Elementary, for $72,500 or 5 percent more than a recent appraisal.

_ Approved a draft contract hiring national architectrual firm Pekins + Will, in cooperation with Beeson, Lusk & Street of Johnson City, to do the design for the proposed Regional Science and Technology Center at Dobyns-Bennett High School. The price is $184,874.

_ Approved moving $200,000 from the Overlook Road improvement fund to fund design of the science and technology building. Chief Financial Officer David Frye said the improvements to the Overlook area now that the final piece of property is about to be purchased likely won’t take place until the summer of 2017. Ailshie said the money will be put back in the Overlook fund when Sullivan County approves $140 million in proposed bonds to fund school projects in the county, Kingsport and Bristol, Tenn. Under questioning by BOE member Eric Hyche, Ailshie and City Attorney Mike Billingsley said the design work still would be valid for a while in case the county funding is not forthcoming or is delayed.

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