Students in Monroe County now have one extra day of school before they can enjoy their summer vacations this year.

After the Monroe County School System closed on Monday and Tuesday because of a drastic increase in absences due to illness, the system had used one more than their allotted days that could be used for inclement weather and/or illness.

During Thursday night’s meeting of the Monroe County Board of Education, Director of Schools Tim Blankenship requested the School Board vote to change May 22 from an administrative day to a regular school day. The School Board upheld his request, voting unanimously to make the date a school day. May 23 is the last day of school for students for the 2017-18 school year.

In his director of schools’ report, Blankenship gave an update on attendance rates.

“On Wednesday, our attendance was 87.1 percent, today [Thursday] it was 87.6 percent,” he said. “I’m going to try to keep us in school. We have district ballgames that need to be completed. Earlier this week, I was in Nashville and the commissioner said we would need to make the days [missed for illness] up. That’s why we voted tonight on using May 22.”

Due to the closure dates, the school system’s report card schedule has also changed. Grade cards for the third nine weeks of the school year were scheduled to go home with students on Friday (Feb. 9). The grade cards for the fourth nine weeks will now go home with students on April 3.

Also during his director’s report, Blankenship said that during the TASS (Teaching Academic Survival Skills) conference he attended in Nashville, they discussed a possibility of adding an additional guidance counselor for every 100-250 students.

“That would help our larger schools,” he said. “Also, RTI positions. Those are not funded right now, but they said the ratio might be 1 per 1,000 [students], so that would give us five more positions.”

For the 2018-19 school year, Blankenship also announced that the school system would be pulling two bus routes out of the 3rd District and moving them to Madisonville, so there would be no second bus runs.

“At very little additional cost because those two routes were already in the budget,” he said. “Those two contractors will both make quite a bit more on these routes.”

Blankenship also told the School Board that the system will bid out the second access road at Tellico Plains High School on Thursday, Feb. 15.

“We will take the bids and look at them then probably two weeks from then, it will go back before the Purchasing Committee,” he said. “We should be breaking ground by spring. I think that’s realistic.”

Also at the meeting:

  • During a workshop held prior to the School Board meeting, the board heard from Madisonville Fire Chief John Tallent, who said the City of Madisonville wanted to apply for a grant for a new fire hall and would like to build it on property owned by the Monroe County School System near the Central Office.

“I make a motion that, pending attorney approval, we proceed with entering into a lease with the City of Madisonville to allow construction of a fire hall on our property at 205 Oak Grove Road in Madisonville.”

Blankenship’s motion passed with all ayes.

  • First District School Board member Larry Stein presented some financial figures to the board on Coker Creek Elementary School. See related story on page ___.
    • The board recognized students from Madisonville Middle School who participated in the State Beta Club Convention, and also recognized Madisonville Primary School teacher Becky Starns and Sequoyah High School teacher Pat Dial for winning the Little Tennessee Valley Educational Cooperative’s Teacher of the Year awards.
    • In addition to approving a lengthy consent agenda, the School Board also approved numerous budget amendments, awarded a bus route for buses #19 and #20 to Katherine Baker, and approved a request to apply for ROTC classes at Tellico Plains High School for the 2018-19 school year.
    • Second District School Board member Jason Miller made a motion that the School Board continue having a student board representative for the 2018-19 school year and to keep the committee the same, to which the board agreed unanimously. Blankenship said he would contact committee members and set up a meeting date that works best for everyone, also inviting the student representative and possibly the high school principals.
    • Sonya Lynn asked to table voting on approval to allow the Maintenance Department to sell a frame chain hoist on Gov Deals until the board can find out why it is being sold. The item had been pulled from the consent agenda.
    • To close the meeting, the School Board watched a state-of-the-school video presentation by Vonore Middle School.

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