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Calendar, construction on agenda for schools

By Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Nov 4, 2013 at 2:16 AM

After a lengthy work session last week to discuss items on its next agenda, the Wilson County Board of Education is set to meet Monday at 6 p.m. to bring the topics to fruition.

A big item of discussion on the agenda is the proposed calendar for next year. At the board’s last meeting, the previous proposed calendar was sent back to the calendar committee to revisit and/or redo its proposal.

Committee member Angela Rohen told the board at its work session about the “balance” it had came to in the calendar.

Rohen said the committee decided to, “by overwhelming request” stay closed on election days and that in the newly proposed calendar it added two days off to Thanksgiving break, which would give a full week off for that holiday and, in turn, provide essentially two weeks off for fall break, just not consecutively.

“This way we still have a lot of days prior to testing, more than we have now,” Rohen said.

The proposed idea would give the schools 163 school days prior to testing as opposed to the current 158.

Board member Wayne McNeese, who was the board’s representative on the committee, said, “I’m not comfortable with it, but I’m not going to sabotage it. And that’s all I’m going to say.”

Rohen said the committee felt the new calendar was a good compromise after hearing teachers concerns about not wanting back-to-back weeks off for Fall Break, paired with parents concerns of wanting two weeks for Fall Break.

Another item on the agenda would be for the board to approve the proposed construction planning so Director of Schools Tim Setterlund can be in conversations with the County Commission for funding planning.

In Setterlund’s construction schedule and plan, phase one has the nearest completion time, proposing to be done by Aug. 1, 2015.

In this phase, the newest building in the old Lebanon High School campus would be converted to Central Office space, and the older parts would be demolished and/or transferred to those wishing to purchase the space. In total, he estimated it would cost around $3.8 million.

Other steps in phase one would be converting Southside Elementary to a middle school, purchasing land and building a new elementary school in the south central area and purchasing land for five potential new schools.

The five new schools would be a west area elementary school near Mt. Juliet, a southwest area middle school near Gladeville and a central area elementary, middle and high school near 109 and possibly Highway 70.

Setterlund said he estimated the board would have to ask the county for a “pretty significant” operating budget increase, plus phase one of the proposed plan would cost around $20 million.

At the boards work session Board Chairman Don Weathers said he felt pushing for a Southside Middle School and creating a new elementary school was most important in the proposed construction plans.

“If we put these two things as top priority and the old Lebanon High School as priority number two we’re looking at now closer to $16-17 million,” Weathers said.

“The county knows we’re growing and we’ll need more schools. If they don’t want to fund more schools then cut the growth. We can’t not educate these kids. They need to know this is something we need.”

Setterlund said he wanted to continue with other phases in the future, but may remove proposed dates and ask the county when they could realistically do some of the proposals.

“I want to make this a partnership with the County Commission and we inform them of our needs so they can plan ahead and where we can be a part of that planning process,” Setterlund said. “We just want to have a dialogue with them on an ongoing basis.”

Other items on Monday’s agenda include approving funds for a new wrestling program at Watertown High School and looking at the personnel section of the Board Policies.

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