Lee County School Board Report – May 11, 2017

JONESVILLE – The Lee County School Board met before a standing-room only audience for their regularly scheduled monthly meeting last night in the School Board Conference Room at 153 School Board Place in Jonesville. All Board members were present. The meeting began promptly at 6 p.m. (18:00) with the call to order, followed by the pledge of allegiance, then a moment of silence.

The Board recognized a number of students for selection in the Kingsport Times-News’ Write On! and Drawing Cards programs. Students recognized for selection in Write On! were from (1) Elydale Elementary School:

  • Leigh Cavin
  • Gracee Greer
  • Ava Hensley
  • Aaron Horton
  • Karlie Jones
  • Makayla Kidwell
  • Jackson Long
  • Chloe Marcum
  • Sarah McPherson
  • Isabella Rodriguez
  • Amity Thacker
  • Jadyn Wilder

and from (2) Pennington Middle School:

  • Tyson Bailey
  • Kaitlin Brown
  • Abigail Edwards
  • Candice Ely
  • Cody Lane
  • Rylee Muncy
  • Madison Sexton
  • Sydney Simpson
  • Emily Smith
  • Riley Woodard
  • Chloe Young

Students whose art was featured in Drawing Cards were from (1) Elk Knob Elementary:

  • Jessee Crabtree
  • Ethan Grizzle
  • Abby Holloway
  • Clarence Pennington
  • Gianna Scicli
  • Lillian Williams
  • Ali Wyman

from (2) Flatwoods Elementary:

  • Johnna Bledsoe
  • Aubree Brown
  • Emma Clontz
  • Aidyn Garret
  • Caroline Robbins

and from (3) Jonesville Middle:

  • Joshua Barber
  • Brayden Hammonds
  • Gabe Snodgrass

Both the Write On! and Drawing Cards selections are available for you to view online.

[Thanks to the School Board Central Office for making these selections available on BoardDocs for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.]

The Board recognized two student artists who were selected for the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) Student Art Contest. These students were Maddie Southard (Lee High) and Alexia Stafford (Pennington Middle).

Also recognized were the 2016-17 Lee County Public Schools (LCPS) Teacher of the Year honorees.

2018 Lee County Teachers of the Year (chosen during 2016-17 academic year for 2018 regional competition) Pictured are (L-R) Adam Dean, Connie Burchett, Dorothy Zentz, Jill Graham, Gretta Carroll, Renea Wilder, Karen Williams, and School Board Chairman Michael Kidwell. Not pictured: Joe Williams, Sue Ann Bales, Jamie Middleton, Myra Carter, and Bambi Pendergrass
  • Dryden Elementary – Karen Williams
  • Elk Knob Elementary – Jamie Middleton
  • Elydale Elementary – Renea Wilder
  • Flatwoods Elementary – Gretta Carroll
  • Jonesville Middle – Jill Graham
  • Lee County Career & Technical Center – Joe Williams
  • Head Start – Dorothy Zentz
  • Lee High – Sue Ann Bales
  • Pennington Middle – Connie Burchett
  • Rose Hill Elementary – Myra Carter
  • St. Charles Elementary – Bambi Pendergrass
  • Thomas Walker – Adam Dean

Karen Williams of Dryden Elementary was chosen to be the LCPS delegate to the regional teacher of the year competition. School teachers of the year are elected by faculty at the 11 schools in the district. The Central Office has a committee that reviews information submitted about each teacher chosen at the school level to inform their decision on which of them will best represent LCPS at the regional competition.

Public comment time was filled with fervent comments. The main issue at hand was whether or not to renew the contract of current Lee High band director Chris Aker. There was great community concern about conflict between Aker and the majorette program at Lee High School, and the question before the Board on renewing his contract seemed to hinge largely on developing solutions to the problems that conflict created.

Twenty public comments were made at the meeting: 18 comments were in support of retaining Aker, with 17 of those comments being made by students and one by color guard coach Julia Herron, one comment was in support of the majorette program by a parent, and one comment was not related to the band director question, but was instead urging the Board to develop and include sensory rooms at all schools to improve the educational experience for students on the autism spectrum.

The majority of students who spoke were band students, but some were not. Each student spoke passionately, with articulation and clear effect, in support of Mr. Aker and his work with the LHS band over the past year. The students argued the case that Aker has brought the band and its individual students to a new level of self-respect, performance, and camaraderie, and that continued improvement in these areas will make them better citizens, who are more competitive for college acceptance and scholarships.

The parent who made a case supporting the majorettes pled that the majorette program is also vital to positive student concepts of self-worth and as a pathway to future endeavors, and, as such, should remain a part of the Lee High Band.

The Board thanked each speaker for their comments, continued the business before them in the remainder of open session, and then went into closed session to discuss matters of personnel, student discipline, request(s) to release a student from compulsory attendance, and pending and threatened litigation.

The Board remained in closed session for more than two and a half hours. After being in closed session for about 50 minutes, the Board called Aker into the meeting room, where he remained with them for over an hour. Shortly after 10 o’clock p.m., the Board returned to open session and voted to accept the Superintendent’s recommendations on personnel, to uphold the Superintendent’s findings regarding a case of student discipline, and approved a request to release a student from compulsory attendance.

Upon completion of these items, the Board voted to adjourn and to reconvene at their next scheduled meeting.

Sources indicated that the Board did decide to retain Aker as band director at Lee High School, however details of that arrangement and how it affects the band and the majorettes are forthcoming at this time.

For a copy of the meeting agenda, click here.

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