As a result, the Hawkins County Board of Education voted Thursday to keep Clinch School on a four-day week at least until Feb. 13, when it's had a chance to further evaluate the situation.
Route 66-N and Route 70-N were both closed in February as a result of mudslides. That added a 45-minute detour between Rogersville and the rural K-12 Clinch School, which is located on Clinch Valley Road on the north side of Clinch Mountain.
In September, the BOE agreed to lengthen Clinch's school day but reduce the number of days to four per week while the detour was in effect.
Thanks to two massive repair projects funded by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Route 66-N and Route 70-N both reopened in December.
TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi told the Times News on Friday, however, that at the top of Clinch Mountain on Route 70-N there is another slide that has caused TDOT to put a temporary signal up to control traffic to one lane until that area is repaired.
The new Route 70-N repair project is scheduled to be letting for bids on Feb. 7, with a completion date of on or before Sept. 30, Nagi added.
“The large 70-N slide that occurred in February is open to traffic, but crews are still working on drainage items off the roadway, so there could be temporary lane closures through this portion of 70-N,” Nagi added.
Route 70-N is the easiest route to access Clinch Valley from Rogersville. The Route 66-N route is more narrow and winding and requires crossing two mountains instead of one.
Clinch Principal Denise McKee is expected to give the board a report at the Feb. 13 meeting on how students and faculty reacted to the four-day school week.
When Clinch's schedule change was approved in September, McKee noted there are 500 schools in the United States that have four-day weeks, but Clinch would be the first in Tennessee.
Data showed that achievement either stayed the same or improved under the four-day system, and McKee said Clinch's situation would be an opportunity to gather data.
Flu epidemic spares Hawkins
Director of Schools Matt Hixson told the BOE during its Thursday meeting that despite concerns over absenteeism due to the recent flu outbreak, Hawkins County Schools as a whole maintained 93% attendance for the first week back from Christmas break.
“Staff is holding in there at 89-90% as of (Thursday),” Hixson added. “I do want to make a special thanks to parents for monitoring our students and keeping them at home if they're exhibiting flu symptoms. That has greatly helped us in being able to deal with students who are coming to school each and every day and keeping them healthy.”
Special education director receives award
Special Education Director Angela Jackson was honored by the board for being one of only three Tennessee educators to receive the TAASE Cup from the Tennessee Association for Administrators in Special Education (TAASE) in December.
Assistant Special Education Director Tammy Gibson told the BOE that the TASSE Cup is awarded to the individual in East, West, and Middle Tennessee who “constantly strive to display strong leadership skills, communication skills, interpersonal relations and personnel management.
“Angela is our go-to person in special ed for our region,” Gibson said. “She serves on the Tennessee Board as well as the Governors Advisory Counsel for the Education of Students with Disabilities. She's always eager to learn how to best serve our students and never backs down from a chance to be a voice and an advocate for all students.”
School finance director honored
Finance Director Melissa Farmer was honored by the board for completing the Certified Accounting Finance Officer (CCFO) program.
“If you remember a couple of years ago, she was brought forward and she expressed an interest in doing that to further her skills in finance,” Hixson told the Board. “It included government, environment, accounting, budgeting, internal control and audit, government accounting 1 and 2, financial reporting 1 and 2, gas management, debt management, payroll benefits and pension, purchasing, risk management, and enterprise resource management. She flat-out worked to get this done, so I want to bring to the board's attention this was at no cost to the board, but it is a benefit to our system, and I wanted to publicly recognize her and congratulate her.”
Assessing surplus property
Board Chairman Chris Christian appointed a Surplus Real Estate Committee consisting of board members Kathy Cradic, Bob Larkins and Jackie Charles to compile a list of unused property owned by the school system, determine what if any use it has to the school system, and if none can be found, recommend that it be sold at auction.