School board discusses start times

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

  
The Carter County School Board discussed early school start times Tuesday afternoon during its monthly meeting. Recently, a protest from parents of Range Elementary School students resulted in the school reverting its start time of 7:05 a.m. back to 7:15 a.m. Still, many parents aren't satisfied.
   Board members decided to reconsider start times for all county schools. The calendar committee will meet to weigh options before presenting them to the board.
   Director of Schools Dallas Williams suggested eliminating 13 days allotted for inclement weather and starting school 30 minutes later - which means the school year would begin about one week earlier in the summer - or keep the allotted days and begin and end the day 30 minutes later. The latter option would cause students to arrive home later, but Williams said many parents might like it because they may arrive home at the same time as their children.
   Board member Steve Chambers said he worries about children waiting for buses early in the morning when it isn't even daylight yet.
   "The number one concern for a board member is the safety of the children from getting on the bus until the time they get off the bus," said Chambers.
   He also said getting up so early in the morning would affect student academic performance. Chambers supports starting school at 8:30 a.m. and ending the day later.
   Chairman Daniel Holder said, "Starting early is not in the best interest of students. I think we can try to schedule a workshop in the near future."
   The calendar committee will review different options and present them to the board at a later date.
   Awards and recognition began the meeting when Director of Schools, Dallas Williams, presented awards to two members of the Cloudland High School football team.
   Mark Byrd and Dan Chrisman received the prestigious TSSAA Class A Mr. Football awards. Williams commended them and said he enjoys watching the Highlanders play football. Rarely do two players from the same team win the coveted award.
   Florence Shell, a cafeteria cashier at Keenburg Elementary School, received recognition and an award for saving a child's life during lunch. Shell performed the Heimlich maneuver when a student became choked on a piece of food.
   A representative from the Adult Education Program updated the board concerning 35 students who completed their General Equivalency Degrees during the semester. One of the students, Linda Bowman, accepted a certificate of achievement on behalf of her other classmates. Bowman quit school when she was 16 years old. Decades later, she pursued her dream and received her GED in August 2003.
   Bowman is currently enrolled at Tennessee Technology Center and later plans to attend Northeast State Community College.