McKenzie School Board Member Resigns

McKenzie Special School District Board member Norman French has resigned from the McKenzie Special School District Board of Education effective immediately. He has just over two years remaining on his term.

The board meeting was held May 5 in the middle school library due to the six feet apart coronavirus restrictions.

Director of Schools Lynn Watkins told board members that he and board chairman John Austin had both received letters of resignation from French, who plans to move to Henry County in the future.

French’s successor will be selected at the October board meeting. According to Watkins, the school board will ask for letters of interest and resumes of interested candidates. According to state law, a new board member can’t be named until 60 days following the election which is Aug. 6.

Austin and board members Lance Rider and Jan Latimer’s terms are up. However, only Latimer turned in a qualifying petition.

The director of schools’ contract was renewed for two more years which extends it until June 30, 2023.

The motion to extend Watkins’ contract was made by French with a second by board member Rider with the remaining board members LaShonda Williams, Greg Barker, Jon Davis and Latimer all voting aye.

French commended Watkins for his leadership as director of schools.

“The school system needs consistent leadership,“ said French. “The next couple of years will be tough.“

Student board member Drew Beeler was recognized with a gift from the board. He will be graduating this year and says he will be attending Murray State University where he will be a nursing student.

Some policies waived and some passed

Because of the school year ending on March 18, four policies concerning the Grading System, Graduation Requirements, Testing Programs and Evaluation were waived due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. This is only for the 2019-2020 school year as recommended by TN School Board Association.

Four amendments to the school system’s policy manual were passed on one reading instead of the generally required two readings.

The policies include: FFCRA Leave, Emergency Closings, Telework During Emergencies and Employee Designations During Emergency Closures.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), employees are entitled to two weeks of paid sick leave which went into effect April 1 and expires Dec. 31.

Concerning the policy on Emergency Closings, employee responsibilities during this type closing have been added to the policy. 

The Telework During Emergencies Policy allows designated employees to perform their duties through the use of software at an alternate location from their normal work site.

The Employee Designations During Emergency Closure Policy has added custodial and food service workers as essential employees who will be paid during such a closure.

Other business

In other business, board members:

• Approved awarding the custodial contract services to ABM for an annual fee of $270,875.27 for five years. They currently provide these services and were the low bidders among the five companies that submitted bids.

• Agreed to amend the 2020-2021 school calendar to change the optional professional development day to a required professional development day on July 27.

• Voted to adopt the local textbook committee’s recommendation for English Language Arts.

• Approved allowing varsity basketball practice during the school day for the 2020-2021 school year as recommended by high school principal Kelly Spivey.

• Set the high school instructional fees, the middle school science lab class fee and elementary instructional fees for the 2020-2021 school year.

• Acknowledged the employment of Ashley Lowe for high school history and Cheyanne Kyle for high school special education.

• Set budget workshop for June 11 at 5 p.m.

• Set the next board meeting for June 16 at 5:30 p.m. when retiring teachers Anna Holland, Marcia Webb and Lee Ann Coleman will be recognized.

• Passed two budget amendments. The general fund was amended by $37,656 to pay for two canopies at the elementary school and also by $3,313 to increase health insurance and teacher assistant accounts.

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