County School Board puts rumors to rest

By Megan R. Harrell

Star Staff

   Rumors that county schoolteachers' benefits might be cut were laid to rest at the Carter County School Board meeting Tuesday night. Chairman Richard Winters discouraged speculation that teachers' insurance benefits might be cut as a result of the state's budget problem.
   The school board has not made any decisions on what to cut because they do not have exact figures. "The fact of the matter is we do not know yet how hard times are going to be, and until we know exactly what we are looking at everything that we talk about is strictly tentative. As of this moment we have no plans about what we are going to cut, or if we even have to cut," Winters said.
   Winters stated that the board will make the cuts that must be made in order for the county school system to survive, but they are hoping the state will solve their financial problems before things escalate that far.
   "We are proud of our school system and we are proud of our good teachers," Winters said. "We want to hold on to our good teachers and we want them to be adequately compensated. We want to be competitive and we are looking to the state legislators to solve these problems and looking at which path they take and to what extent they go to solve the problem."
   The board is expected to make a decision on budget cuts after it receives more information from the state. There are currently no items being singled out for cutbacks.
   In other business, State Senate Candidate Richard Gabriel spoke to the board about his plans for education if elected. Gabriel announced his candidacy earlier this year, but his papers have not been formally filed in Nashville.
   Gabriel told board members that he would seek a gender enhanced education system in state schools, and would seek a revamping of the state's vocational education program.
   Also, Dallas Williams, Superintendent of Carter County Schools, spoke about building projects that are being planned. The county is currently accepting bids for new roofs at Cloudland High School's vocational building and at Central Elementary.
   Williams is also working with Tennessee's Department of Transportation and state legislators to get a new turning lane in front of the new Cloudland Elementary School. The turning lane would be a safety feature, as people traveling from North Carolina have a difficult time seeing the school. A flashing sign has been ordered and will be installed soon.