The Wilson County Board of Education voted Monday to use about $78,000 from the system's fund balance to lease three portable buildings, which can house two classrooms each, to relieve extreme overcrowding at Carroll Oakland Elementary School.
"With this we can get them out of the halls and the closets and get them into real classrooms," said Director of Schools Mike Davis. "That will create a better learning environment for those students."
He said moving on the idea at the meeting would mean "immediate relief" to the teachers and students who are crammed into the school and making use of every available space.
"The company has three in stock, and they can be set up by the end of the month," Davis added to the applause of the audience. The board agreed with the idea by a 5-0 vote.
The board also voted in favor of allowing the city of Mt. Juliet to take over the traffic light on South Mt. Juliet Road between West Wilson Middle School and the private school Mt. Juliet Christian Academy.
Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin addressed the board on the issue of the city taking over the maintenance of the signal light.
"It would create one big school zone," Martin said, adding having two school zones so close together on the road was confusing. "This will be at no expense to the Wilson County School System."
Davis said the move would adjust the school zone a little bit to encompass both schools, and the school board cannot make such a move with a private school, but the city can.
"We can't, but if the city takes control, they can," Davis said. "And if we get calls that the light doesn't work, we can tell them to call Kenny Martin."
"We'll probably be changing the bulbs," Martin said on a more serious note. "This will make things safer for everybody. It will cost about $6,000 on our end."
David gave his monthly director's report, and said schools had 90 new students who began classes after the Christmas break.
"As long as we keep building houses, we'll have more students," Davis said.
He said the county schools' current building projects are going well, and providing the weather cooperates, are expected to progress rapidly.
Davis addressed the notion of increased school security in light of a December school massacre in Newtown, Conn. He said 13 county schools now have secure vestibules, and he is recommending every school have a buzz-in system that would allow school personnel to see any visitor before they were admitted to the building. Davis also recommended the board consider the overall issue of school safety and how it can be improved.
"I want us to take a close look at this," Davis said. "I don't want a knee-jerk reaction. Every layer of security we put between the street and the students increases security."
He said with a buzz-in system, school resource officers, secured vestibules and locked classroom doors, county schools would have four layers of security that an intruder would have to breech to reach students.
Board member and SRO Greg Lasater made a motion Davis draft a letter to County Mayor Randall Hutto and the county commission requesting SROs in every school in the county. The board voted 5-0 in favor of the plan.
Britt made a motion Board Chairman Don Weathers begin a search for a new director of schools to replace Davis who will finish his term June 30. The board voted in favor of the motion by a 4-1 vote with Lasater voting "no."
The board also voted to name the tennis courts at the new Lebanon High School after a tennis coach and a volunteer - the late Betty Rushing and Tom Boyd.