Kingsport school board OKs textbook, computer and parking spending

Rick Wagner • May 27, 2020 at 5:00 PM

KINGSPORT — The city school system is purchasing K-12 textbooks and online resources for English/language arts (ELA), including digital resources to be used if schools go virtual next school year, as well as Chromebooks for students and computers for teachers and school nutrition employees.

And by the start of school in August, assuming school isn’t delayed or virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dobyns-Bennett High School track should have parking to meeting Americans with Disabilities (ADA) requirements.

The board in a called meeting in five separate votes of 5-0 decided to:

— Appropriate up to $705,000 in a blanket adoption of textbooks and digital resources from the Tennessee Book Company for ELA, with $200,000 coming from textbook budget funds and $505,000 from the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act. Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Rhonda Stringham said the funds work out to an average of about $30.38 per student per year for six years, with consumable materials each year included in the cost. K-12 materials are the most expensive per students, she said;

— Spend $375,635 (or $288.95 each) for 1,300 Chromebooks for sixth- and ninth-graders, based on the low bid. The highest bid was $326.75 for each one;

— Spend $117,492 to replace the oldest laptops computers and docking stations for teachers, with the Dell Latitude 5500 models costing $1,003.93 and the docking stations $170.99, based on the low bid. The highest bid was $157,185 combined. Chief Technology Officer Tony Robinson said with the purchase and future purchases the oldest teacher laptops would be about 3 years old;

— Replace all 52 School Nutrition Services computers, base on the low bid, with Dell devices costing $50,647.37 compared to the highest bid of $78,146;  

— Appropriate up to $147,340 for ADA parking at the D-B track based on the low bid by Mitch Cox Construction of Johnson City. The bid was $139,000, but a 6% contingency of $8,340 brings the maximum appropriated up to $147,340. Cain Rash West Architects of Kingsport designed the parking area, which Chief Finance Officer David Frye said should be done in 45 days after the contract is signed or by the end of July. Frye said the Board of Mayor and Aldermen does not have to approve the project spending since it is less than $500,000.

In a work session after the meeting, the board reviewed what Assistant Superintendent of Administration Andy True called three housekeeping policy changes, to be voted on later, that would revise:

— Policy 3.600 on insurance management directly to reflect compliance with federal privacy law;

— Policy 5.117 on procedures for granting teacher tenure; and

— Policy 5.118 on mandatory background checks on school employees required every five years via a new law approved in 2019 by the Tennessee General Assembly. Superintendent of Schools Jeff Moorhouse said the requirement has been made more difficult to meet with fingerprinting facilities being closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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