By Sally Absher


Farewell to Board of Education Student Rep Sydney Gabrielson

Sydney Gabrielson ended her tenure as the Student Representative on the Board of Education on June 1. A 2016 graduate of Bearden High School, she served as Editor in Chief of the school annual, vice president of the student body, founder of the varsity bowling team, and a member of the Bearden Orchestra. Additionally, Sydney was recognized as a National Merit Finalist and AP Scholar with Distinction.

Outside of school, Sydney received the Gold Award from Girl Scouts of America, and played in the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra. She also attended the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.

This fall, Sydney will start the Alabama Fellows Experience Program at the University of Alabama, where she will be studying economics and finance. She will be starting as a sophomore because of all her AP credits. Congratulations and best wishes for an exciting future Sydney!

Board of Education Approves Lower Salary for Interim Superintendent

The Board of Education voted to approve the reduced salary requested by incoming Interim Superintendent Buzz Thomas.  Last month, the board approved an annual salary of $195,000 salary. But when he signed the contract, Thomas lined through the $195,000 and wrote in $180,000.

Lynn Fugate asked to move the item from the consent agenda to the regular agenda so it could be discussed publicly. She explained that she only learned about the change when she read it in the paper. She said, “On a personal level, I would have liked for the new interim superintendent to have discussed it with me before I read it in the paper.”

Doug Harris explained that he had received a call from Mr. Thomas saying he felt it would be a good move from him to reduce his salary as an act of goodwill, and that he had already talked to some of the other board members, and the Law Department, and that is what he was going to do.

Harris said the Law Department directed him to send an email to the Board telling them of the discussion, which Terri Coatney sent to all the Board members and the press.

Fugate was still upset that Thomas had spoken to some board members and not others. It should be an interesting few months…

Assessment of Student Transportation Report

At the May midmonth meeting (May 25) the Board discussed a third-party Assessment of the Student Transportation Organization and Operations. School Bus Consultants was scoped to examine transportation department management functions, personnel staffing levels, school bus contracting and oversight, route efficiency and route times, comparable costs to other TN Districts, use of technology, and impact of local policies and procedures.

The Report made the following recommendations to reduce accidents and injuries, reduce route downtown, increase classroom for students, create a safer environment, and gain public trust:

  • Institute a new formal districtwide driver training program;
  • Expand annual driver in-service program;
  • Institute a new districtwide student training program (focus on expected behavior and safety); and
  • Consider third-party training versus hiring more employees.

In other news, KCS recently cancelled the contract with Mayes Bus Lines, citing numerous complaints related to issues with service, failure to adhere to schedules, and inappropriate driver actions with students, parents, and staff. Mayes provided transportation to students attending Halls and Powell high schools and Copper Ridge, Brickey McCloud and Adrian Burnett elementary schools.

KCS Nutrition Manager Named

2016 Tennessee School Nutrition Manager of the Year. Vine Middle School’s LaKeisha Smith was recently recognized as the Tennessee School Nutrition Association Manager of the Year. Vine Middle is one of the KCS Community Schools, serving dinner to students and family members each evening.