JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – As expected, the Campbell County Board of Education voted to renew Director Jennifer Fields’ (TOP PHOTO) contract for an additional year, assuring her of four more years at the head of the school system.
While most board members had nothing but praise for Fields’ performance, two expressed reservations. Ronnie Lasley said that he felt extending the contract was “right now premature,” without giving any specific objections to her performance. Jeffrey Miller also voiced doubts without going into specifics.
Other board members were eager to praise Fields’ performance. Faye Heatherly said that the school system has made significant gains under Fields’ leadership and Johnny Byrge told Fields “I’m really proud of you,” which brought a loud round of applause from the packed courtroom.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day but I’ve seen a huge turnaround in the past year,” Noah Smith added, “We need to put full faith in Ms. Fields.”
Heatherly’s motion to extend the contract was then approved 8-0 with Lasley and Miller both abstaining. The large audience of parents and teachers again broke out in applause as the vote was recorded.
Fields later announced the eagerly awaited state test results, which showed how far Campbell County schools have advanced in the past year. The school system is no longer rated as “needing improvement” while three schools were rated as reward schools, having a 3.0 cumulative test score or higher. Jellico High School, Jacksboro Elementary School and Wynn-Habersham Elementary School all achieved reward school status while two other schools – Jacksboro Middle School and White Oak both missed by less than one-tenth of a point.
Valley View was also cited for great improvement while 10 out of the 12 schools in the county all saw increased attendance, Fields added.
The one sour note to the evening came when Marty Jackson addressed the board on behalf of bus operators. Jackson told the board that bus operators across the state are having trouble finding enough drivers because of low wages. Jackson said that the increasing cost of fuel, insurance coverage, tags and other costs leave bus operators unable to pay enough to attract good drivers.
“We need more money for the buses,” Jackson said. “We thought we were going to get some relief last year but nothing happened.”
Fields responded that the board “appreciates your reliability” but no definite action was taken.
In other action, the board approved a budget amendment to appropriate funding to re-open the Homer Rutherford Learning Academy. The academy was a victim of the shortfall in state funding when the school system had to cover a $1.4 million deficit in June, but additional state funds came in that enabled Campbell County to re-open the alternative school.
The CCHS Student Council was also recognized by the board and most members were present to pose for a photo with the board. Maria Medina was also welcomed as one of two student representatives to the board of education. Medina, who was born in Mexico, was selected to represent Campbell County High School. The representative from Jellico HS could not be present this month. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 08/14/2019-6AM)