Traffic problems at Springdale Elementary School were the subject of one parent’s concern that he brought before the Claiborne County Board of Education at the February meeting.
The traffic problems have been frustrating to many of those who drop off and pick up children from the school since a new safety policy went into effect after the school shootings in Sandy Hook, Conn. The parent, William Smith, said he has had to sit in traffic for at least an hour to pick his child up from school.
“There’s more safety issues with the traffic now than there ever were before,” he said. “I don’t see where the children are any safer.”
Smith expressed his fear that one of the children will be hit by a car, as there are two lanes of traffic going through at the same time. He also complained that the new policy restricts his access to the teachers because he can’t stop and go in.
“What’s the problem?” asked board member Bill Turner. “If you’re wanting to go in, make an appointment and go in.”
Board member Tim Duncan told Smith that he has three children who attend Springdale, and that he knows what Smith is going through. He added that school officials had met with the Tennessee Department of Transportation in hopes of finding a solution to the problem.
“I’m also concerned that semis are going by us at 65 miles per hour while we’re sitting there in the median waiting to turn in,” Duncan said. “There are some legitimate issues, but I stand behind what we’re trying to do. It’s a hard problem to solve.”
Director of Schools Connie Holdway addressed Smith’s concerns as well, adding, “It’s not our intent to keep parents out of the building. Our intent is to regulate who is in the building.”
Holdway told Smith that he — or any parent or grandparent — is welcome to have lunch with their child any day of the week. She also encouraged him to visit his child’s teacher during their planning time.
“Any day you need to talk, just visit,” she said. “We love to have our parents involved.”
Holdway also spoke of the safety issue.
“Can we protect them 100 percent of the time? No, but we have an obligation to protect them as well as we can,” she said.
Smith repeated his frustration about the traffic.
“It’s like a drive through at McDonald’s with those two lanes. Something needs to be done,” he said. “It’s almost like the teachers out there directing traffic want us to push the kids out before the car stops. You need a better policy.”
The board also recognized some Beta Club students from Powell Valley Elementary School. All schools in the county participated in a recent food drive to benefit Servolution Ministries that was conducted by the Enactus (formerly SIFE) club from Lincoln Memorial University (LMU). In one week, Powell Valley students collected 864 cans of food. Board chairman Michelle Huddleston added that Springdale worked past the deadline and collected a total of 1,002 cans of food.
Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, kindergarten students will be required to attend a full day of school after the board’s unanimous vote. Some schools already have kindergarten for a full day, but that will be extended to all schools.
“We see the benefit of students being there all day,” said Holdway, “and it’s good for parents in most circumstances.”
The board heard from Claiborne High School (CHS) teacher Shawn Peters, who also coaches the soccer team. He thanked the board for helping the team get started three years ago, saying the program has been successful. However, he said they are playing on the old high school football field located beside SMMS, and the field isn’t in very good shape.
“For several years now, it’s only been used as a practice football field or little league,” he said, “and it’s not a good game facility for us.”
Duncan made a motion to approve that they gather estimates to build a soccer field at the CHS campus. The motion passed unanimously.
In the school board members’ reports, CHS student representative Dylan Robinson reported that the school is initiating two new student recognition awards: Postcards that will be sent out to parents to recognize improvement, and a student of the month award to celebrate individual achievement. He also reported that the school raised over $6,000 at the recent Pink Out for Black event. Five thousand dollars went directly to the American Cancer Society, while $1,000 went to two scholarships — one for a Beta Club student and one for Michael Black, the son of Karen Black, the former CHS teacher who died of cancer and the inspiration for the event. Robinson also reported that there was enough hair collected for the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program to make five wigs for cancer patients.
Board member Dot Patterson encouraged everyone to attend a silent auction and chili supper to benefit Adult Education, with the proceeds going to help people pay to get their GED. The dinner will be Friday evening at CHS from 5 until 9 p.m. Tickets are $6 at the door.
In other business, the board approved bids for buses and technology equipment as well as line item transfers in the budget. The next meeting of the school board is scheduled for March 14 at 6 p.m.