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Carter County School Board Meeting discusses need for substitute teachers

Carter County Schools held their October meeting on Thursday evening via Facebook Live.
First on the agenda was the Director of Schools Report. McAbee took to the floor to discuss a couple of topics.
The first topic McAbee touched on was teachers and tenure. 
McAbee explained to the board why the list of teacher names in front of them being awarded tenure was lower. 
“In a normal year, we would have had more teachers eligible for tenure,” he explained. “As I went through those numbers, since we didn’t have data from last year, the department said don’t grant tenure this year unless you have a waiver. A waiver was written, but you had to use the two previous years’ worth of data. Some of the teachers in a normal year didn’t have two years worth to qualify, so the ones you have in front of you are those that qualified based on the waiver.”
McAbee took to reading each name from those tenured out loud. These teachers were praised by the board for their dedication to their students, and for going above and beyond expectations. 
The second topic McAbee touched on was regarding substitute teachers.
“We are in need of subs in Carter County,” McAbee said. “If you are out there watching this ZOOM, and you have a calling to be a sub, we would be happy to take an application and see if you can work with us.”
McAbee spoke on researching pay for substitutes in neighboring counties. This led to board discussions, and a request to obtain pay information from Brad Burke, Finance/Budget Director, on certified and noncertifed substitutes. 
Burke was next on the agenda with the Financial Report. He presented budget amendments, which were previously announced during the school board workshop last week, that were needed for approval. All were approved. 
The next item on the agenda was the Attendance Report. 
After looking over reports, including those homeschooled, it was stated schools were down 160 students this year. 
There was no report for the Federal Projects Report.
Lindsey Feathers, Director of School Nutrition, provided an update during the Food Service Report. She said on Oct. 9, the USDA announced that they will extend the Seamless Summer Program for the rest of the school year. This was originally set to end Dec. 31. 
“Now we can feed kids, aged 0-18 for free for the rest of this school year,” she explained. 
In the Curriculum and Instruction Committee Report, McAbee provided updates on textbooks. He said a lot of textbooks that were previously approved by the board have now been delivered, however they are still waiting on a few things.
While under the Old Business Report in the agenda, McAbee was asked about the latest COVID-19 report during the meeting. He recalled last week being right at five percent on the positivity rate, and now being around eight percent. He said that when discussing this with the Health Department, they informed him that while there has been an uptick, when looking at the data there has been an uptick in school and the community. 
“So, when I ask if there is anything in this data that tells you we should do anything differently, they said it’s too early to tell,” he said. 
He explained that it’s too early to tell due to the uptick still being low, and because it is too early to tell if schools are causing anything in the community. As of now, there is nothing alarming at this time regarding schools. 
The board discussed protocols regarding the virus in schools and procedures in place. Which includes work with the Health Department. Tracing and contact is done by Beth Bare, Coordinator of School Health. 
In the New Business Report, school board member, LaDonna Stout-Boone, discussed baseball teams. 
“I want to ensure that we have a baseball team at Cloudland,” she said. 
She said it has been brought to her attention that Carter County lost four coaches last year across the district. She said she wants to make sure Cloudland has a baseball team this spring. 
McAbee said he will work on this to help. 
Burke returned during New Business to share information on substitute pay totals from previous years. 
The board went on to ask McAbee how the school system was doing when it comes to substitute teachers. He responded that they do not have enough. 
“I went to an elementary school recently where they were having to rearrange teachers and do some things because they needed a sub and didn’t have any,” he said. “We’ve also lost a few teachers.”
In discussing the need to do something, concerns over pay and raising it were also brought into question. One question posed was whether the decrease in substitute teachers was due to pay or due to COVID-19. 
To watch the full meeting, go to the school system’s Facebook page. Updates can also be found on Facebook and at www.carterk12.net.