Money-saving mulch approved, stricter tobacco policy pondered

Rick Wagner • Feb 27, 2019 at 12:39 PM

KINGSPORT — Kingsport school board member have opted for the less-expensive combination “poured-surface” and wood mulch for the new Kennedy Elementary School community playground instead of an all poured-surface option costing about $80,0000 more.

However, the Board of Education in considering a housekeeping policy change on tobacco-free schools is contemplating a more stringent policy than the one in place or the tweak proposed by the Tennessee School Boards Association.


The BOE in a called meeting Tuesday voted 5-0 to approve $348,700 for the Kennedy project to be installed by Armstrong Construction Company Inc., including a base bid of $217,700, three alternates and architect fees and a 6 percent contingency. The board had tabled the matter at its regular meeting earlier this month to get more cost versus potential savings estimates.

Chief Finance Officer David Frye said adding an all “poured” surface, actually not literally poured but a rubber-type mat surface called by that name, would cost $79,400. In comparison, he said, maintenance supervisor Bill Shedden indicated that over 10 years the less-expensive option would cost only $30,000 or about $1,800 annually in mulch and $1,200 annually in labor.That means the payback for the more expensive surface would be 25 years or longer than the expected lifespan of the poured surface.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen is to consider approving the project at its March 5 meeting.


During the work session following the meeting, two board members indicated they wanted to go beyond the tobacco policy revision proposed by the TSBA. The revision proposes changing the “tobacco free” schools policy to mention “vapor products,” broader than just “e-cigarettes.

Member Todd Golden said the way he reads the current policy someone could stand in a school parking lot and smoke as long as he or she was 50 feet from a building and not inside an athletic facility fence, adding that the policy should prohibit tobacco use on any part of the campus by anyone. In the past, however, such discussions have included a caveat that tobacco use inside cars by adults could not be banned. In 2013, board member acknowledged the policy would not ban smoking in parking lots by adults not supervising students.

Board President Carrier Upshaw said she wanted to see the policy mention smokeless tobacco and being part of the ban. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Andy True said he noted the concerns and would come up with draft language for consideration at the March 7 BOE meeting.


— True said that Johnson Elementary Principal Stacy Edwards, whose school will have a community build for a replacement of the Castle Playground March 5-10, has been named Kingsport City Schools principal of the year, while Chief Student Services Officer Jim Nash has been named KCS supervisor of the year.

— Golden said the Dobyns-Bennett High School robotics team Wednesday will head to a competition near Myrtle Beach

— Jacki Wolfe, special education supervisor, gave a report on her department that about 1,300 or 16 to 18 percent of KCS students are considered students with disabilities. She said the percentages remain about the same but that the number has gone up as overall enrollment does.


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