By Matt Masters

The Wilson County Board of Education held its September work session and meeting Thursday where they reported record numbers for achievements in English, mathematics and science.

Director of Schools Donna Wright said the district as a whole ranked Level 5, the highest-ranking possible, in the recent TN Ready assessement, a feat that has never happened in the past. 

Wright presented information and a slideshow that reported 76 percent of schools were at Level 3 or higher with 43 percent of schools at Level 5. 

In science, Wilson County ranked in the top 10 for science achievement and improvement. In English-language arts, Wilson County exceeded the state achievement average with third through fifth grades ranked in the top 10 for achievement, and in math, Wilson County exceeded the state achievement average. 

Wright praised the district’s teachers, administrators and staff for their efforts to continue to improve education for all students.

“We are all making steady gains, and it’s all taking place in the classroom,” Wright said. “Our kids are definitely benefiting.”

Wright also said about one third of the schools in the district will be recognized as reward schools Sept. 21. She said the schools hit goals based on both achievement and growth, with more details to be provided about the recognition in the coming days.

Providence United Methodist Church recently donated $10,000 to Wilson County Schools, with $500 going to each school to address delinquent lunch accounts, which ensures students who are not able to pay for lunch are still able to eat.

Wright said Angel McCloud, an attorney with expertise in special education, was hired as deputy director of special education, a new position created and included in the current budget to ensure the system properly handles special education challenges. 

Wright said in October, candidates would be interviewed for positions at the new Gladeville Middle School, which is scheduled to open in 2019.

Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall gave a presentation to the board to show projections of the increase in students with rezoning suggestions for middle schools to accommodate the influx of students. Hall said it was only suggestions based on student population growth and that he will give updates to the board throughout the year to keep everyone up to date with growth.

Hall also said construction continues at the new Gladeville Middle School, which is currently getting a new roof, and it will open in 2019.

Ben Baker with CareHere, a Nashville-based employee health care provider, gave an annual report on the state of Wilson County School employees’ health. Baker said Wilson County Schools showed the greatest amount of savings of any school district that works with CareHere. He said using Wilson County Schools as a model of how to get the best out of health care for employees and reported strong numbers of employees doing preventative screenings. CareHere has worked with Wilson County Schools for 10 years.

County attorney Mike Jennings gave his report and called a 10-minute recess to speak in private with the board to discuss pending litigation. No action was taken as Jennings was only giving information to the board in the closed meeting. Jennings pointed out while he is able to have discussions about litigations in private with the board, any actions or votes must be made in public.

Recommendations from Wright to have surplus cubicles given to Wilson County government passed unanimously. 

Approval of a the school facilities use procedures, along with another line item, was delayed until October’s meeting to give board members more time to research the issue. The facilities use procedures refer to the discussion to require at least one school system employee present when a non-school group uses a facility.

The board unanimously approved to retain Melissa Lynn as a member of the Wilson County Education Association Sick Bank and approved the fixed asset missing inventory list.

The board also unanimously approved naming the Mt. Juliet Middle School football field after NASA astronaut and former student Barry E. Wilmore, along with approving the textbook adoption committee recommendations for new science textbooks. 

A motion for Kaatz, Binkley, Jones and Morris to submit an application to the Tennessee School Boards Association Convention School of the Year Awards for the central office was passed unanimously.

The first reading of the attendance during postsecondary school visits board policy was passed unanimously. The policy allows for college visits and tours to be counted as excused absences.

Upon final reading, approval of a board policy for personal, professional and bereavement leave and a policy for sick leave was passed unanimously.

The board voted to re-elect Larry Tomlinson as board chair with a 5-1 vote and to elect Linda Armistead as vice-chair with a 5-1 vote. Board member Wayne McNeese was the no vote on both.

The board also voted to re-nominate Bill Robinson as the Tennessee School Board Association – Tennessee Legislative Network member and Linda Armistead as the Federal Relations Network member both with a 6-1 vote with both Robinson and Armistead abstaining from their respective votes.

Board members Kimberly McGee and Tom Sottek were both elected and voted in as the two sick leave bank committee members, which passed 5-2.

McNeese, Sottek and Chad Karl were all nominated by Larry Tomlinson to serve as ethics committee members where they all were voted in to the role with a 5-2 vote.

Wright recognized all Wilson County principals with plaques to commemorate their Level 5 rankings.

The board recognized new student-school board members who represented their schools with a progress report on activities and happenings at the high schools.

Third graders from Elzie D. Patton performed space-themed songs for the school board, complete with aliens and astronauts.