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SERC membership falls short


Farragut’s School Education Relations Committee is coming up short, membership-wise.

The committee is down to five members, and at its meeting Thursday, Dec. 9, only four showed.

SERC member Carla Lyle addressed the need for volunteers, and committee chair Margaret Johns was of the opinion it was time to have an official application period again.

The committee was formed last year by the newly elected Board of Mayor and Aldermen, and hasn’t had an application period for new members since.

Farragut Town Administrator David Smoak assured the committee they were not the only group with dwindling numbers, and said the Board likely would take up the issue of an application period for several committees at its January meeting.


The committee also had a round table discussion with Farragut Intermediate School principal Kay Wellons.

“As of today, we have 1,079 students,” Wellons opened.

But that number likely was going to see an influx next year, she said, since Farragut Primary School principal Julia Craze reported she’d be sending two additional classes of third graders up to FIS — an increase in classes from 16 to 18.

“They are heading our way,” Wellons said.

Johns asked, “is that because of economic conditions, that people are taking their children out of private school and transferring them to public?”

Wellons said she believed that was part of it, since the increase in numbers couldn’t be singularly attributed to new residents of the area.

Wellons also addressed a common issue of Farragut schools, which is a perception that the schools have no financial needs. But Wellons said she had seen an increase in the number of free and reduced lunch students, although that number is protected by privacy laws.

“We have a lot of diversity here ... a lot more than people realize,” Wellons said.

Farragut doesn’t have a high enough percentage of free and reduced lunch students to make the cutoff for Title 1 schools, which is 50 percent. Title 1 schools receive a larger share of federal funds because of the smaller amount of money coming to the school from the

community.

Wellons said one of her greatest needs was money for professional development and staff training.

“Although I’ve been fortunate that local businesses support special things like that,” she said.

Wellons also expressed a need for a second computer lab.

FIS has one computer lab, which features between 25 and 30 Mac computers. Each class in the school is able to use the lab once a month, with options for additional time.

“Those computers get used a lot,” Wellons said.

Wellons said an additional lab would make it easier for the school to use computers for testing — now, it would take two or three weeks to rotate the entire school through the lab for standardized tests.

SERC member Russ Barber asked Wellons if computers were used in individual classrooms, and if FIS accepted donations from businesses or people who were upgrading.

Wellons said the answer to both of those questions was “yes.”

“Is that readily known by parents? Because people upgrading happens a lot,” Barber said.

 

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