By mtjulietintern

Commissioners choose her over two others to serve until August election

Gwynne Queener

Gwynne Queener will replace Larry Inman on the Wilson County school board after the Wilson County Commission chose her for the position during Monday’s meeting.

Queener, who was absent due to surgery, defeated candidates Chad Karl and John Pope for the Zone 7 seat, which became vacant earlier this month after Inman resigned the position.

Queener will hold the position until the next General Election in August 2018.

The commission took three rounds of votes to pick Queener. In order to receive the position, a candidate had to receive 13 of 24 commissioner votes.

Queener tallied 12 votes in the first round, compared to Pope’s 10 votes. Karl was eliminated after he only garnered votes from commissioners Mike Justice and Joy Bishop.

Inman defeated Karl by 24 votes in last year’s general election, while Queener finished with nearly 270 less votes than Karl.

Pope finished with 12 votes in the second round compared to Queener’s 11 votes as Bishop abstained her vote in the round, which caused a third round.

Queener finished with 13 votes compared to Pope’s 11. Commissioners Bishop, Bobby Franklin, Chad Barnard, Jerry McFarland, Frank Bush, Sara Patton, Dan Walker, John Gentry, Terry Ashe, Diane Weathers, Terry Muncher, Sue Vanatta and Jim Emberton voted for Queener.

Queener took part in a school board candidate forum last year.

“We do need a tax increase. I’ve been in education 35 years from the classroom to administration and when you have teachers floating, students crowding in a classroom, it’s a very poor educational environment to work in. I do think that here in Wilson County, we need a working relationship with the commissioners,” Queener said last year about a potential property tax increase.

Queener also discussed teacher pay and retention during the forum.

“Pay, environment, teacher appreciation are all factors in keeping teachers. If they feel loved and cared for in the schools and by their faculty, administration and parents, they’ll stay,” she said.

The commission also approved a Wilson County Schools budget amendment to give a $3 hourly pay raise for district bus drivers in hopes of attracting more drivers in the future.

Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall said the increase totals $708,801 and would represent an average of 17.6 percent pay increase for drivers. Hall said the money would come from within the district’s budget, and the starting pay for bus drivers would increase to $17 starting with the upcoming school year.

Jerry Partlow, Wilson County Schools transportation director, said the district has 439 route assignments each day, which include regular morning and afternoon routes, special needs morning and afternoon routes and midday routes.

Last month, he said he would like about 30 additional drivers to cover routes that carry about 10,000 of the district’s 18,000 students.

By Xavier Smith