Trousdale County’s School Board set Friday, June 26, 2020 as the makeup date for graduation during its May 14 meeting.

Graduation plans had been up in the air since schools closed in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduation had originally been scheduled for May 22.

At the beginning of May, the school system sent a text message to parents of the Class of 2020 with three possible makeup dates: May 29, June 26 and July 10. Parents were asked to choose which date they preferred.

“We’ve chosen the football stadium as the football location, and June 26 as the date. About 75% of the surveys chose that date,” said Director of Schools Clint Satterfield. “In case of inclement weather we will use the following Saturday, June 27, as a backup.”

“Dr. Satterfield and Mrs. Dickerson have put a lot of work into this,” said board chairman Regina Waller. “We want to make sure our seniors get recognized.”

The graduation ceremony will take place at 8 p.m. on June 26. Each of the 83 graduating seniors will receive four tickets, which will designate a gate entrance to the football stadium. Guests will have to enter and leave at their designated gate. The concession stand will be open to provide water to guests.

Satterfield said the school system was working to be able to livestream the ceremony online for those not able to attend.

“We have decided to recommend masks but they are not required,” Satterfield said. “We will use all three gates to help promote social distancing. We will dismiss by gates as well.”

Parents will not be allowed on the field for pictures, but are encouraged to take photos at home before the ceremony. Mark Griffith Photography, the school system’s designated photographer, will have pictures available for parents.

“We will have to discourage people congregating to take pictures under the present health conditions,” Satterfield said. “This took a lot of time and work.”

In his director’s report, Satterfield told board members the system had received no guidance yet regarding the opening of schools for the 2020-21 academic year.

“I posed four different scenarios to our teachers and administrators that we are trying to think about,” he said.

Those scenarios include returning as normally scheduled on July 30, delaying the opening of school, providing only distance learning opportunities similar to what was done during April and May, and a blended plan providing both staggered schedules to enable social distancing at school buildings and remote learning opportunities.

Other actions

Board members also approved the salary schedule for certified teachers in Trousdale County and the school system’s $12.161 million projected budget. The budget still requires approval from the County Commission.

The board approved four teachers for tenure: Gena Cothron, Kristin Kirkland, Ryan Sleeper and Heather Smith.

“All four of these teachers have completed five years of experience and evaluations,” Satterfield said. “From the recommendations from their principals, they come highly recommended.”

In order to be eligible for tenure, a teacher must have five years of service in Trousdale County schools and receive evaluations of either “above expectations” (score of 4 on a 5-point scale) or “significantly above expectations” (5 score) in each of the last two years. The state board of education sets the guidelines for teacher evaluations.

“This is the best part of our job, and we’re excited to be able to do that (grant tenure),” Waller added.

Board members were also presented with a plan to rebuild the football stadium to repair the bleachers and make the facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“I’ve received a lot of complaints about the safety and accessibility of the bleachers,” Satterfield told board members.

The complete estimate came in at $636,203.25 and includes demolition costs, which were not included on a previous estimate. Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund provided a payment schedule at five and 10 years. At five years, the payment would be roughly $136,650 annually at 2.77%. At 10 years, the payment would be roughly $74,000 at 2.98%.

Satterfield noted that a sales tax referendum scheduled for the August general election in Trousdale County would in theory, if passed, provide the school system with enough funding to move forward on stadium repairs.

The plan will be presented to the Education Committee at its May 21 meeting, after board members said they wanted commissioners’ guidance before taking any action.

“Let’s talk to them, tell them our plan and see how it’s received there,” Waller said.

The board also approved a present for employees that will be mailed out, in lieu of the annual Employee Appreciation banquet.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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