Universal free meals coming to seven more Sullivan County schools

Rick Wagner • Jun 1, 2019 at 9:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County’s Board of Education will consider accepting funds for universal free meals at seven additional schools at its Thursday meeting, as well as weigh choosing the low bidder for a contract to livestream board meetings and accepting a Read to be Ready Tennessee grant.

Moreover, the BOE, in regular session starting at 6 p.m., also is to approve a four-year contract for new Director of Schools David Cox to start Aug. 1 and extend the contract of current Director Evelyn Rafalowski until July 31.

The board also is to consider the dismissal of Bluff City Elementary School tenured teacher Beverly Moore for alleged incompetence, inefficiency, insubordination and neglect of duty as allowed by Tennessee Code Annotated 49-5-501, upon the recommendation of Rafalowski. If the recommendation is approved, Moore will be advised of the right to request a hearing. Rafalowski said Moore is aware of the planned vote.

Aside from addressing fiscal year-end budget amendments and changes, the board also is to:

— Approve adding seven schools to the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools that provide free breakfasts, lunch and snacks to all students in a school with enough direct certification of students from families that get food stamps or other federal assistance. The new schools are Blountville Elementary, Blountville Middle, Bluff City Elementary, Central Heights Elementary, Sullivan Gardens K-8, North High and North Middle (which are co-located.) School nutrition supervisor Amber Anderson said they will joint existing CEP schools Emmett and Ketron elementaries.

“I’m glad that we’ve been able to add some schools, particularly those we’ve been able to add back,” Rafalowski said.

— Approve the Tennessee-funded Read to be Ready program at Blountville Elementary, which will serve 40-50 students academically at risk with a $50,000 grant providing free books, enrichment, field trips and time to bring parents and families into the summer program.

— Waive the anti-nepotism policy, at Rafalowski’s recommendation, to allow Mark Pendleton to become the permanent Indian Springs Elementary principal at the school where his wife, Jana, is a kindergarten teacher, and allow Hank and Beth Hare to work at the new Sullivan East Middle when it opens, just as they work at Mary Hughes School now. She is a teacher, he an administrator.

— Grant a low bid of $150 a month to the Video Guy of Bristol to livestream voting school board meetings each month, compared to a bid of $429 a month from Gage Hobbs that included a $100 charge for each additional meeting. If approved as Rafalowski proposes, the contract would be granted for a year and then reviewed by the board before renewal. She said after working with the Video Guy all issues were resolved except that the videos would be on YouTube and thus be able to be posted online by anyone; however, she said no comments or ads would be allowed on the videos.

— Consider granting tenure to teachers as recommended by Rafalowski.

— Approve a district water testing policy for lead, as required by law. Of nine schools tested so far, Rafalowski said, only Sullivan East High had an issue with a water cooler, which was replaced. Other schools tested were Rock Springs Elementary, Emmett Elementary, South High, Miller Perry Elementary, Colonial Heights Middle, Sullivan Elementary, Sullivan Middle (with Sullivan Gardens K-8) and Central Heights Elementary. The rest will be tested in a week or so, she said.

— Approve a differentiated pay plan, also required by law.

— Make changes to the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, centering on stiffening penalties for the use of e-cigarettes and vaping in schools.

— Approve a $12,000 grant to provide the ACT Work Keys and other certification programs.

— Approve a federal ATSI (Additional Targeted Support and Improvement) grant for $25,000 for Bluff City Middle, which will transition to the new Sullivan East Middle when Bluff City, Mary Hughe and Holston Valley Middle merge there in January 2020.


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