By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
With an increase in the influx of notices of intent to home school, board member Cathy Hebb asked Attendance Director Amber Kyle to compile data to present to the School Board relating to the trend of home schooling. She provided a detailed breakdown of data beginning by stating, “Currently we have 74 home school students in 60 families. Of those 74, 47 of those have never been enrolled in Tucker County Schools.” Also within the 74 total students being home schooled, 27 were previously enrolled in the public school system and then moved to home school. In this school year, five students have re-enrolled in public school, one has transferred, three have moved, one has graduated, and two are in the process of re-enrolling.
“We have 26 who have entered home schooling during the 2019/20 school year,” Kyle continued, offering a breakdown of how many per grade to the board. Of those 26 students, nine have never been enrolled in public school (being kindergarten or first graders), three moved into Tucker County and were currently home schooling in another county, five turned to home school due to trauma or health, three are avoiding truancy, four chose this option due to an issue with the school, teacher, or another student, and two have either unknown or other reasons. She then provided the trend for the past four school years, noting in 2015/16 there were only 49 home school students, 2016/17 53, 2017/18 58, 2018/19 66, and this year 74. “I know for sure that this is a trend throughout the state,” Kyle proclaimed. She also feels with the potential of the Tim Tebow Bill passing, more students may turn to home schooling. Kyle did inform that the 47 students she referred to that have never been enrolled are members of families that have chosen this path. “That’s how those families want to raise their children and they have every right to raise their children that way, and those are the families that are doing it right and are always doing it right,” she insisted.
Vice President Daniel “Chopper” Evans asked if there was anything that could be done with the students moving to home school just to avoid truancy; Superintendent Alicia Lambert responded that if they can be entered into the Circuit Court system in time, they can be prevented from dropping out of school. “So we try to really stay on top of that so that we can make sure these kids graduate,” Lambert said.
There was a report presented by Lambert that was provided from Todd Romero regarding the technology available to the students in each school. “Our schools are very much equipped with technology,” stated Lambert noting that all devices listed on the report were in operable condition.
Discussion items consisted of the previously tabled item of the creation of the position of an Athletic Game Administrator. Board member Jessica Wamsley had asked for input from the principals relating to what they would like to have from a person filling that position, which Lambert provided to the board. It was also asked to clarify what the school administrators were permitted to do, which she stated, “Principals are typically there for crowd control so they do have the authority to remove anyone from the crowd at any time that they so choose.” However, she noted most do not remove anyone until instructed to do so by a referee. Lambert has inquired with other county superintendents on how they handle similar situations; however, most counties have a full time Athletic Director and some an assistant Athletic Director, unlike how Tucker County is constructed.
Jonathan Hicks, Athletic Director, explained that if a referee requests an individual be removed, they must be removed however they cannot tell a principal they cannot remove someone either. He further explained school personnel in general can request someone leave the premises and if they refuse, law enforcement should and will be called. Once an individual is removed, the school has the authority to request they do not return to any further events. Hicks continued to explain how other counties handle these situations to further give options to the board on how they can choose to proceed. He requested that it be clear what the expectations are, be it principals and game administrators attend all games or what the requirements will be.
Secretary to the Superintendent Debby Fike will be preparing a sample job posting to present at the next meeting so the board can continue to discuss their desires for this position. Once it is decided upon, the position can be created in order to have this in place for the next school year.
A notice of intent to home school was acknowledged by the board before moving into finance and budget. The adjustments were reviewed and approved as presented. Finance Director Tracy Teets announced that the state has informed her they did not expect any midyear cuts at this time. Each school was also allotted $5,000 for a total of $15,000 for the county to go towards the installation of cameras in areas where special education students will be contained, which is around eight rooms. The board is looking for a system that has face blurring capabilities for legality purposes and Hicks suggests purchasing a system that can be built upon in the future.
Teets also mentioned a legislative session recently required school financial information be made available online as part of the State Auditor’s website. “That includes every check we write,” said Teets who is now in the process of coding every check written for the past three years to protect vendor privacy. She also noted that the auditors choose one school a year to audit, this year being Tucker Valley, and she is responsible for evaluating the other two. This information will be made available at a future meeting.
New business began with the approval of consent agenda items, including the minutes from February 3, payment of bills, and TCHS senior job shadow request for Officer Cody Johnson, US Air Force Recruiting Office in Bridgeport. All were approved as presented.
Additional business consisted of Lambert recommending the approval of a resignation from Amber Evans as the Girls Basketball Coach at DTEMS effective February 23. Evans left the room having conflict of interest and was unable to vote. Board member Chris Gross made the motion to accept the resignation with Hebb seconding. Evans returned as Lambert recommended the hiring of Kimberly Johnsons as a substitute teacher for the remainder of the school year with all in approval. Under service personnel, Lambert recommended the employment of Randall Davis as a substitute custodian for the remainder of the year pending background check, which also passed. Moving into extracurricular, Lambert recommended Dani Wilfong as a volunteer assistant track coach at TVEMS year and Randall Davis as DTEMS track coach for the 2019-2020 school year pending background check and certification, also approved. The final item was the removal of Kayla DiBartolomeo as a substitute aide, effective February 18 with all in favor.
An executive session was called to discuss the Superintendents evaluation and contract renewal. The calendar of events was briefly discussed noting the following: Early Childhood Festival at Thomas Education Center from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on March 30 and another scheduled for March 31 at the TCBOE Gym from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. TCHS will be recognizing their National Honor Society Inductee’s on March 16, and TVEMS will host a Parent “Math” Night on March 24.
The next meeting of the Tucker County Board of Education is slated for Monday, March 2 at 4:30 p.m.