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letters to the editor


Hale addresses

Town attorney billing

In my 10 years as Town Attorney, for the first time to my recollection one of our firm’s monthly bills was recently questioned. In hindsight, it occurred to me that the citizens of the Town, who collectively provide the resources to pay for our services, may have been left with an incomplete picture about this particular monthly statement. To be clear, we take no offense at the Town, or any other client for that matter, who has questions about our charges. Frankly, we welcome the opportunity to answer such questions in order to avoid misunderstandings that may exist.


The statement approved 4-1 by the Board is, by far, the largest monthly statement we have sent to the Town since I became the Town Attorney. There are a number of unusual things about the bill. First, the amount included an expense for the fees of Ms. Pam Reeves in investigating claims of discrimination about which articles have appeared in this paper. Ms. Reeves’ work is outlined in her thorough 21-page report. A second substantial part of the charges was for two months of work to perform title examinations and prepare title reports required by the Tennessee Department of Transportation in preparation for the improvements to be constructed at Kingston Pike and Everett Road. This project is one that the Town hopes to have “shovel-ready” for stimulus money purposes. In addition to the routine work that the Town calls on us to do, the statement included time spent on the out-of-the-ordinary personnel issues that the Town has experienced. I make all of these observations so that this unusual bill is understood in proper context.

One of the questions about our charges involved two memoranda that I prepared and which Mayor [Eddy] Ford signed. These memoranda were the Town’s legal response, based upon Ms. Reeves’ investigative findings, that there was no legal basis to support the two recent complaints of discrimination and/or retaliation. These are the kinds of documents that legal counsel usually prepare for clients. Since both the Town Administrator and the associate were involved in the matters, I looked to the next logical person to sign on behalf of the Town, and that was the Mayor. The memoranda were not intended to be, nor did they state that they were endorsed by the Board.

Finally, in light of recent events, one further remark is appropriate. Often the complexity and sensitivity of the situations in which the Town finds itself, and on which we work, makes it inappropriate for discussion in the media. While others may have the luxury of second guessing how the Town should respond in legal matters in which it becomes involved, as the one who bears the responsibility for making such calls, there are instances where the best interests of the Town or my own professional responsibility to the Town require that I say nothing. Legal disputes are best handled in the arena where there are rules and procedures specially designed for getting at the whole truth.



Thomas M. Hale

Town Attorney



McIntyre rejects ADA

On March 3rd, I had the opportunity to meet with Farragut High School parents, teachers, and students to discuss our budget. At that meeting I was repeatedly asked to examine the feasibility of including Average Daily Attendance (ADA), rather than enrollment, as a criterion in our allocation of resources to schools. While I stated several reasons why that idea did not appear appropriate to me, I did note that several persons had mentioned the concept, and that I would give the matter some additional consideration.

Since this is a community issue that was well reported in the Farragut Press, I think it is appropriate for me to provide the full community the core of my response to the Farragut High School PTSO.

Having taken time to further consider the suggestion, I have decided I will not include ADA in our recommended school budget allocation methodology. The primary reasons include:

Using Average Daily Attendance to distribute resources to schools gives institutional credibility to unacceptable rates of attendance that we seek to dramatically improve. It assumes that those attendance rates will remain relatively low from one year to the next thereby communicating precisely the opposite of the message we wish to send.

Teachers still have to do the work for the 35 students on their rolls, even if only 33 are in attendance on any given day. The workload associated with grading papers, checking homework, lesson planning and instructional delivery is largely undiminished by small differences in ADA. This point is all the more relevant when considering that it is typically a different grouping of students that are absent each day and even though students may be absent, they are still responsible for making up missed work.

Employing ADA in the formula would systematically diminish the resources available to schools that are currently underperforming and, therefore, in need of support, assistance and resources.

Class size requirements for the state’s Basic Education Plan (BEP) are based on Average Daily Membership (ADM) which is a function of enrolled students, not necessarily attendance. Therefore, providing fewer teachers than the actual enrollment requires, even if attendance is problematic, is not practicable under the current education finance law in Tennessee.

These are some of the reasons which have reinforced my conclusion that incorporating ADA into the budget allocation formula is neither feasible nor desirable. I very much appreciated the passion, commitment and support for public education so clearly evident among members of the Farragut PTSO and the greater community. I found the meeting on March 3rd both fruitful and enlightening, and I look forward to working with the Farragut community as we strive to achieve our vision of excellence for all children.

Dr. James P. McIntyre Jr.

Superintendent

Knox County Schools



Acclimate to islands

The calming islands on Grigsby Chapel Road have generated plenty of negative comments, both in presstalk and in the neighborhood.

Yes, they certainly have been controversial. But we have them and we will acclimatize.

Next comes the landscaping and this is my reason for commenting. It’s a request, asking the planners of this part of the project, to think drought, water shortages, waste. Hardy selections for planting can survive. Please do not consider installing automated sprinkler systems.

Mary Anne Sedlmeier

Farragut

 

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