City school board hires seven full-time teachers

By Julie Fann
star staff

  According to Alexander Pope, hope springs eternal. For the Elizabethton City School Board, that feeling may be most evident at the beginning of a new school year.
   On Thursday, city school board members announced 14 new employees who will be joining the ranks. Seven of those employees are full-time teachers.
   "We have a lot of new hires. We've had them ready and waiting for that budget," City Schools Superintendent Judy Blevins told the board during its monthly meeting.
   Because the city's budget is extremely tight, the school board was relieved when the state General Assembly finally passed a budget that restored full funding for city schools. Had the state decided to pass the DOGs budget (Downsizing Ongoing Government Services), city schools would be left in the lurch.
   T.A. Dugger received four new full-time teachers; Harold McCormick received two; and Eastside Elementary received one.
   New hires also include three cooks, a guidance secretary at Elizabethton High School, an EHS teaching assistant, and a custodian at Harold McCormick.
   In other business, two board members who attended a Summer Law Institute seminar last month reviewed topics that were discussed. Highest on the list of importance was a new state law requiring the daily recitation of the pledge of allegiance.
   "Public chapter 841 requires public school students to recite the pledge of allegiance daily, and this is good. I wish they would make them sing the national anthem too," said board member Catherine Armstrong, who attended the seminar with board member Judy Richardson.
   The new law, Senate Bill No. 2599, sponsored by State Senator Rusty Crowe, requires the pledge be recited in every classroom unless a student, or his/her legal guardian, objects on the basis of religious, philosophical, or other grounds.
   The pledge must be recited in every classroom that has an American flag in it. Armstrong mentioned a foundation that is willing to purchase flags for classrooms that doesn't have a flag in them.
   The board also introduced a new attorney to provide legal services. Robert Hull, also school board attorney for Sullivan County schools, assumed the position.
   "The attorney before me was Mr. Lateir, also from Kingsport. He had done it for a year or two. I think his conclusion and the board's was that they would go another direction, and I don't know everything that entered into that," Hull said.
   Hull said school law has become a specialty that all school systems need due to an increase in regulations and litigation.
   "It seems like we're just a society that's more prone to go to court; so I think schools are having to look to more legal advice," he said.
   The board also considered the possibility of adding to board policy a requirement that an account analysis be performed at each monthly meeting. Members agreed to discuss the topic again next month.
   The union contract the board has with the Elizabethton Education Association was also approved.
   "Can I just say that, having been on both sides, I realize how hard these people work, both the administration and the members of the team. From the board, I can just say thank you so much for your time," said board member, Judy Richardson.
   The first city school board budget workshop for 2002-2003 was scheduled for Jan. 14. The school board will hold its next monthly meeting on Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m.