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Board members speak at HVA

Hardin Valley Academy parents received discouraging financial news from three School Board members at the school’s PTSA meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 2.

Thomas Deakins, representative in District 6, including Farragut and Hardin Valley, estimated Knox County schools could see a more than $1 million budget deficit.

“We’re not hitting the panic button yet, but … there will be an impact on our budget, I guarantee it,” he said.

Karen Carson, vice-chair of the Board of Education, said there were simply too many needs in Knox County to meet them all. Hardin Valley needs more teachers, but teacher pay across the County needs to be raised.

“We have to do something about teacher pay, we have to … we have a lot of have to’s,” Carson said.

Cindy Buttry, District 3 representative, encouraged parents to contact state representatives, asking them to fully fund education.

“The Republican houses have said they want to pass the education budget first … we’ll see if that comes to pass,” Buttry said.

“That could be a very positive thing,” she added.

Carson also mentioned the recently enacted random search policy, which allows searches of student backpacks, lockers or vehicles.

“There is no one on the Board who thinks the random search policy guarantees student safety. What we do hope is this will act as another deterrent” to events like the August shooting at Central High School, Carson said.

“Any day you come in you could have a search,” she added. Carson said she still has not seen a police report for the school shooting, but felt sure other students knew about the gun.

“I don’t want kids making that decision [to report a weapon or not],” Carson said. She wants the searches to be done by a single team, not teachers and staff at each school.

One Hardin Valley parent asked about false reports, and HVA principal Sallee Reynolds said they were “a regular thing around here.” However, she said all reports are taken seriously and examined thoroughly.

“I guess we’re willing on taking a chance on having false alarms,” Carson said.

Deakins said the random search policy was “one piece of the puzzle to solve this problem.”

Deakins also talked about schedule changes to the 2009-10 school calendar. School will start one week later, but still dismiss for summer break before June. However, the current week-long fall break will be cut to two days.

“All that was put together as a compromise based on the survey,” Deakins said, adding the School Board received more than 6,000 responses to a survey sent to students, teachers and parents.

Students will still have spring break, as well as the day before Thanksgiving off.

Teresa Laggis, a Hardin Valley parent, asked about the relationship between athletics and academics, specifically, how many classes athletes were allowed to fail and still remain on a team.

Carson explained this was regulated by TSSAA, which permits students to fail two classes and still play. However, she said Knox County often changed its standards before the state did.

Reynolds also responded, saying HVA only allowed athletes to fail one class.

“By having that in the policies, I believe we’re failing our students by allowing them to fail their classes,” Laggis said.

Carson recommended contacting TSSAA and state representatives to effect statewide changes.

“If you don’t ask it, we don’t know … you’ve raised it tonight … it’s just something to constantly think about, because my thought is, if you get input from your constituents, from the public, they’ve taken their time to share an idea,” Deakins said.

“At least people want to think about it, and that’s good … it’s better than not hearing from anyone,” he added.


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