By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

There was no business to vote on at Thursday’s Wilson County Education Committee meeting, so chair Commissioner Annette Stafford asked Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright to give the committee an update.

Wright discussed a number of items at the meeting, but one of the highlights was that Wilson County has 100 percent participation in a state mentoring program.

“With Tennessee Promise, Tennessee Achieve, it’s always been something for students to access. Many of them are first-time college and having to be able to navigate [the scholarship process],” Wright said. “About three years ago, the governor’s office launched a program to get mentors for students. They could go through all the things they needed to go to as far as college.

“In Tennessee, if you go through the resources they have and make a 21 or better on the ACT, you can more or less go to college. Two years or four years [is] essentially free in the state. Many districts around the state are struggling to get mentors. But we’re one of 21 school districts out of 140 high schools that has met 100 percent goal. We have someone for every student that’s going through the process of Tennessee Achieve, so that’s good.”

She also mentioned state testing, which is the end-of-course testing for high, is winding down for the first semester.

“There’s not been any of the historical glitches that have been newsworthy,” she said. “It doesn’t happen in the fall, because it’s limited to high school testing. It’s going to be interesting when everybody goes online in the spring, elementary, middle and high, and East Tennessee goes online an hour earlier, so we’ll see.”

She said Bethany Wilson was named the new principal for Gladeville Middle School that will open next fall.

“We had a panel interview and went through multiple rounds,” Wright said. “She’ll start on Jan. 3. Dr. Donna Shaffer is the principal at Watertown Elementary, and Angie Pulley is going to be the assistant principal there.”

Flyers that went out to the public for the sales tax referendum, was a $70,000 project that was split 50-50 between the county and the school.

“There was a reimbursement of $50,000 that came back,” she said. “It was split 35-15.”

The majority went back to the county, county finance director Aaron Maynard said. “That’s because [Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto] was able to make “a deal for assistance for funding from [Eastern Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors.]”

Wright said, “We entered into it willingly, because the benefit would have been to the school district. Unfortunately, it didn’t play out as we were hoping, [the referendum failed by] 2,200 votes. I’ve heard many people say if they had known about it earlier…they would have thought about it differently. We’ve heard that over and over.”

She also said the semester is “winding down for the holiday, and I’ve already been informed by one middle school boy not to let it snow during Christmas [break], because that is a wasted day. He was saying it’s got to snow while we’re in school, so we can get out.”