Grades, attendance records available via the Internet says school board

By Bob Robinson

STAR STAFF

   The Elizabethton School Board found itself in a "heads you win and tails we lose" situation with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDE) at its regular meeting last evening.
   After the board heard TDE had cut $130,000 from the Elizabethton School System's enrichment programs, the board learned TDE is requiring local school systems to purchase new student informational management software. No financial support is available from the State, however.
   The software will allow student records, average daily attendance information and other reports to be sent to TDE "in their required format" via the Internet, according to Ronnie Morton, Elizabethton City Schools technology coordinator.
   Privacy concerns were expressed by several board members, including Dr. Robert Sams. Morton assured the board the data would be protected from hackers by a firewall.
   After some discussion, the board approved the expenditure of $76,470 for the purchase of software from Chancery Software, Ltd., of Burnaby, British Columbia, one of three companies certified by TDE but the only company "to get the data to go through," according to Morton.
   Installation of the software will begin the first week of November. Training will begin in January 2002, and continue through April for principals and secretaries.
   When operational in three years, students and parents will be issued a password to allow them to access enrollment and academic information the school principal places on the Internet, Morton told the board.
   On the subject of the forthcoming Wheel Tax Referendum, Board Member Bob Berry said if voters approve the tax, it would benefit education.
   In other action, the board:
   * Approved the expenditure of $90,500 to defray the balance of the $118,000 cost for installation of an elevator at T.A. Dugger Junior High School (TAD). The elevator gives students with mobility impairments greater accessibility to classrooms on the second floor of the school.
   * Amended the budget for the current fiscal year to reflect increases in revenues for federal projects, totaling $283,221, and general purpose budget, totaling $119,023.
   * Approved Buddy Farmer field trip request to Cookeville on Nov. 4; Perry Elliott field trip request to Orlando, Fla., April 3-7; and Charlotte Ryan, Debbie Estep and Jancey Bennett field trip request to Gatlinburg, May 10.
   * Approved new hires -- Debbie Odom, TAD teacher assistant; Stephanie Brace and Janet Duvall, part-time ESP child care workers; and Rod Stipe, TAD interim teacher for the remainder of the school year;
   Transfers -- Dr. Judy Blevins from assistant director of schools/curriculum director to director of schools; Lucy Morton from East Side (ES) secretary/bookkeeper to systemwide school nurse; and Jackie Guinn from ES teacher assistant to ES secretary/bookkeeper;
   Leaves of absence --Kim Lavin, learning academy teacher; Jena Williams, Elizabethton High School (EHS) custodian; and Brenda Hyder;
   Expired -- Harold Ellis, TAD teacher;
   Resignation of Dr. Dale Lynch, former director of schools, effective Sept. 14, 2001; and,
   Hiring of substitute teachers -- Melissa Farthing, Lora Humphreys and Carmen Maines.
   The board also heard a report from Bob Berry, vice chairman, on the 2001 Fall District meeting in Hamblen County; announcement of 2001 TSBA Leadership Conference and Convention, Nov. 10-13, by board chairman Dr. Jonathan Bremer; and announcement of a Board Policy Workshop to be held within the next three weeks.
   A "jump start" agreement between Northeast State Technical Community College and EHS was also approved by the board. There were 13 EHS students participating in the program last year, 54 over the last four years, according to Ed Alexander, EHS principal.
   In final action, the board amended its Food Service Management Policy which is updated yearly.