By Sally Absher

Fifth District School Board Member Defeated in 14th District House Special Election

Board of Education member Karen Carson received 1,742 votes to telecommunications brokerage business owner Jason Zachary’s 2,397 votes in last Wednesday’s special election primary.

The two ran in on the Republican ballot in the West Knoxville 14th District, formerly held by Ryan Haynes.  Haynes stepped down earlier this year to assume the Chairmanship of the Tennessee Republican Party. As the Republican nominee, Zachary will run unopposed in the September 29 election.

Election turn-out was light, with around 10% of voters in the 14th District voting according to the Election Commission. Carson won the Rocky Hill and A.L. Lotts precincts, residents of which are largely outside of her 5th District School Board District. She lost the Concord and Farragut precincts that she represents on the School Board.


Knox County Schools Teacher Shortage?

On the first day of school, according to the KCS employment listings, there were still around 50 certified positions and 175 classified positions that had not been filled.

By the end of last week, the numbers hadn’t moved much. Among the more telling listings are openings for science (including a biology teacher at West High School, which is already home to over 20 new teachers this year); foreign language (Spanish, French, Latin); social studies; English Language Learner (ELL); and numerous special education teachers.

The KCS website notes that Interim and temporary positions which occur after August 12, 2013 are not advertised. Those vacancies are filled from the existing applicant pool on a temporary basis and advertised as a vacancy for the following school year.

How many of those who were riffed (reduction in force) or non-renewed without cause could have filled those positions?

How many of those positions were left open because educators moved to other counties or other professions, where they are respected and treated professionally?

How does “Excellence for Every Child” include necessary, yet unfilled positions throughout the county and a Board of Education majority that continues to do nothing substantial to regain control of their sinking ship?


Knox County Schools Experiences Bus Driver Shortage

WBIR News-10 reports that two bus contractors ended three service agreements with KCS last week, leaving the district 35 bus drivers short in the middle of the first week of school.

This left the district scrambling to cover routes at seven schools across the county: South Doyle Middle, Career Magnet Academy, L&N Academy, Green Magnet Academy, West Hills Elementary, Whittle Springs Elementary, and Fulton High School.

KCS Chief Operating Officer Russ Oaks told WBIR that the district is running at least a dozen double runs – picking up students at a school, making the run, and coming back for a second load of students.

Oaks said the cancelled contracts are not related to increasing scrutiny being placed on bus drivers, including cameras and police ride-alongs.

Parents are also concerned about overcrowding on some of buses in the Karns area in particular. Oaks said the overcrowding is only temporary. Bus routes are run based on projections, but as information about ridership comes in, adjustments are made.


Superintendent School Visits

This week, Dr. McIntyre will be at the following schools during the morning hours:

Monday Aug. 17 – Gibbs Elementary, Ritta Elementary, Carter High

Tuesday Aug. 18 – Cedar Bluff Elementary, West View Elementary, Vine Middle Magnet

Thursday Aug. 20 – Farragut Primary, Farragut Intermediate, Farragut High

Dr. McIntyre will wrap up his school visits during the week of August 24 as follows:

Monday Aug. 24 – Brickey-McCloud Elementary, Halls Elementary, Halls High

Friday Aug. 28 – New Hopewell Elementary, Bonny Kate Elementary, South-Doyle Middle