JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – For the first time since early March, the Campbell County Courthouse opened to the public briefly on Tuesday night as the Board of Education held its monthly meeting in the lower courtroom. Everyone entering the meeting had their temperature checked at the entrance, although masks were rarely worn and social distancing was more a feature of the sparse turnout than the planned seating pattern.

Board chairman Brent Lester indicated  the decision to meet in person may have been at least partly because the most recent board committee by Zoom was hacked by some unidentified young men. One source even added that the meeting was “mooned” by the pranksters.

As it went, the meeting involved some routine business and a look by board members at what school may look like in the future, both while the pandemic persists and beyond.

Sonya Lee, representing a group of parents, addressed the board about concerns that many parents have about the effectiveness of school for young students if recommendations by the federal CDC are followed. Lee said that requiring masks for young children and teachers and social distancing in classrooms will force many parents to turn to home schooling.

Director Jennifer Fields responded that none of the CDC guidelines has been adopted by the Tennessee Dept. of Education.

“For instance, our buses are at full capacity and run 2,000 miles each day. There’s no way to decrease capacity and still serve transportation needs,” Fields pointed out, adding that playground time for younger grades is considered a necessity as well.

“We will be looking to the state for guidance, not the CDC,” she assured Lee, while board attorney Dail Cantrell added. “The CDC has no bearing on the state.  Gov. Lee has the power to dictate requirements for reopening.”

The board then passed a number of routine matters, including budget resolutions and bids for custodial supplies, the tenure list and Campbell County Schools mission statement and motto.

The board then spent much of the rest of the meeting discussing the technology plan that may radically change the way school is conducted in the future, with every student being supplied with an iPad and many lesson plans and reading assignments being provided online, making textbooks obsolete.

There were concerns that up to 40 percent of students still live in areas with no Internet access, meaning technology remains a goal until more access can be provided. Fields said some of the advantages to providing more of the reading materials through new technology, reminding the board that “We budget $257,000 in annual spending for textbooks and another $30,000 to $50,000 on paper.”

The board also received an update on a couple of legal matters, including one lawsuit that has been settled out of court and new information on the controversy regarding the proposed Potter Southeast rock quarry near Campbell County High School.

Cantrell pointed out that the board had opted to file a lawsuit separate from the county commission, charging that the quarry would place students at risk. A change in the company’s contract with Scott County could help the school board’s case, he added.

Finally, the board voted to recess the meeting until June 30 instead of adjourning, in order to meet again to deal with any final fiscal year budget matters or changes.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 06/11/2020-6AM)