School Board takes time out for meeting with attorney

Dewain E. Peek/OCN screen shot

School Board member Mike Gilpatrick, seated, clarifies wording in the minutes, as newly appointed Board member Bruce Hudgens listens.

By Dewain E. Peek,

OCN Editor

Overton County Board of Education opened the Tuesday, Nov. 10 regular monthly meeting at the usual time, but shortly afterward took time out to meet with School Board attorneys.

School Board Chairman Jarman Hicks announced at the onset of the meeting that a recess would be called in order to go into executive session. He then opened the meeting with a moment of silence followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Then the minutes of the October 6, 2020 meeting was brought up for approval.

School Board member Mike Gilpatrick took exception to one part of the minutes, disagreeing with a comment made by Chairman Hicks that was recorded in the minutes. The comment indicated that Director of Schools Mark Winningham is in a probationary period because of the last two years’ test scores, which could lead to unilateral termination of his contract.

“Two problems I have with this,” Gilpatrick said. “Number one, the director can’t be placed on probation without a full vote of the Board.

“Number two is that we didn’t test last year. The state legislature passed a ‘hold harmless’ clause for all teachers, your school personnel, and so on.”

Chairman Hicks noted that the contract wording is “failure to raise test scores may result” instead of “will”, and that needed to be corrected in the minutes.

Gilpatrick explained, “It can’t be a probational period because the test scores were…”

Chairman Hicks agreed, “You’re correct. They were suspended and they will be suspended this year as well. You are correct.”

The minutes were then approved.

Chairman Hicks then announced that the meeting would go into recess in order to hold a closed-door executive session with attorneys, which is allowed to discuss pending litigation.

School Board Attorney Chuck Cagle said, “There is a case that has been filed against the Overton County Board of Education.”

He explained that at that time they were going to go into executive session.

“I will assure the audience that there are no decisions that are made in this session,” Cagle said. “There’s no deliberations or decisions. The purpose of this meeting is just to get information about litigation and maybe get some direction from our clients, the Board of Education.”

When the School Board returned into session, the $16,180 low bid from Howard Technology for four Microsoft Teams Rooms with Logitech Tap for Microsoft Rooms, ViewSonic 65-inch display, wall mount for 65-inch display, and Microsoft Teams Rooms license was approved.

The low bid from Cannon for enzymes for all schools was approved at $65 per 5-gallon bucket.

Chairman Hicks said, “Those are used in the cafeteria.”

Awning Worx replacing an awning at Rickman Elementary School was approved with a $13,500 low bid.

Chairman Hicks said, “This is not a budgeted item. This is damage caused by a storm.”

School Board member Ricky Dodson asked if insurance would pay anything on it, and was told that the time to make a claim had run out.

Approval was given for 2020-2021 LEA Reopening & Programmatic Supports Grant and 2020-2021 Perkins Reserve Regional Career Pathways Revision #1.

Leaves of absence were approved for Delisa Ramsey, effective October 19 to December 3, 2020, and Denise Robinson, effective October 19, 2020, to January 1, 2021.

Anthony Bowman’s letter of resignation as boys basketball coach at Wilson Elementary School, effective Wednesday, Oct. 21, was accepted. He cited unforeseen health concerns.

Tenure was granted to the following personnel:

Livingston Academy, as recommended by Principal Richard Melton: Nate Kennard, Karla Crabtree, and Aleshia Reeder.

Livingston Middle School, as recommended by Principal Doug Smith: Megan Cobble.

Hilham Elementary School, as recommended by Principal Kim Dillon: Regina Radencic and Tonya Storie.

Rickman Elementary School, as recommended by Principal Donnie Holman: Kelly Beasley and Kellie Webb.

Wilson Elementary School, as recommended by Principal Ashley Fisher: Wendy Haney.

Chairman Hicks said a reception for the newly tenured personnel would be held at a later date when social distancing recommendations have been eased.

Heating for the Livingston Academy baseball field house received a $3,400 lowest quote for LP gas.

Director of Schools Mark Winningham explained, “We talked about electrical; the problem with electrical is that the old electrical that goes into the school won’t hold enough for an electrical heater in there.

“OK. The problem with gas is, with natural gas you’ve got to lay a line, and there is no gas line out there. So that would be not cost effective.

“So the most cost effective way is to do the LP gas. We’ll have to put a tank out there.”

The tank is not included in the quote because it would be rented from the propane supplier.

School Board member Ricky Dodson made a motion to go with the LP gas quote, and School Board member Larry Looper seconded. On the vote, School Board members Bruce Hudgens, Mike Hayes, Dolphus Dial, Wayne Taylor, William Abston, Looper, Mitchell Stonecipher, Dodson, Gilpatrick, and Chairman Hicks all voted for installation of a propane gas heating unit.

Renovation of the Livingston Academy football stadium was again discussed.

Hayes, who has been the point person for the building project, said that with the County Commission’s budget committee rejecting the enhanced football stadium plans, the project would need to revert to the original renovation plan of the current site along with the possible purchase of land from Dr. Larry Mason that is located at the rear of the Livingston Academy campus. (For more see “Land purchase discussed for future LA expansion” elsewhere in the edition of Overton County News)

OCEA representative Jennifer Eilender was given the floor and said of the teachers’ efforts during this unusual school year, “We’re all hanging in there the best we can. It’s a strange year and we’re all in new territory.

“And also on behalf of OCEA, we’d like to welcome Mr. Hudgens on the Board. We really miss Dr. Diane, and we so appreciate you being willing to step up and try to fill that seat.”

Overton County Commission appointed Hudgens on Monday, Nov. 9 to fill the School Board seat left vacant from the recent passing of his wife, Diane Sadler. He was appointed to fill out the unexpired term, which continues until August 30, 2022.

The meeting adjourned.