School Board Committee On Consolidation Plan Calls It A Day

By Bill Dries

The countywide school board’s ad hoc committee to review the schools consolidation plan is about to disband without acting on the plan sent to the board by the schools consolidation planning commission.

The school board will consider its next step at its voting meeting Tuesday, July 31.

The original goal was to have a plan approved by August – a year from the merger of the county’s two public school systems at the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

Board member Freda Williams, who chaired the ad hoc committee, told the board that the group is disbanding.

“Next week I will request an item be added to agenda to make a determination of next step as we have scrapped the plan previously approved,” Williams said referring to a cancelled special board meeting on the merger plan earlier this month that has now changed the timeline for board approval of a plan – whether it is amended or not. “It’s just kind of murky since we abandoned the initial approved plan. What we need to do as a board is determine our next step.”

Williams attended every planning commission session and was briefed by the planning commission as their proposal took shape. The idea behind the committee was that it would wade into the details of the plan and its more than 170 recommendations and recommend a course of action to the full 23-member board.

Williams said she is still awaiting a final vote by the planning commission. The planning commission intended for its final vote to respond to any changes the school board or Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman might recommend.

Last week, Huffman approved the part of the planning commission proposal that dealt with preserving teacher benefits and their status as employees in the move to a single school system. He also offered non-binding recommendations on other parts of the plan.

School board chairman Billy Orgel asked Williams to clarify that her committee was going out of business. And she confirmed it was.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Orgel responded.