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Dandridge, Tennessee

August 15, 2011

U.S. Senator Bob Corker
Attends Carson-Newman College Leadership Breakfast
Staff Photo / US Senator Bob Corker / Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Don Cason
Washington's Out-of-Control Spending, Debt and Its Effect on Economic Growth and Job Creation.

United States Senator Bob Corker enjoyed breakfast Wednesday, August 10,2011, with local and regional politicians, as well as Leadership at Carson Newman College. Corker took the opportunity to share his views on the financial crisis that has plagued the Country. He is advocating that the government take a long, hard look at spending, particularly entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, and make adjustments to lower the Nation’s debt. A Senator since 2006, Corker serves as the ranking member of the Special Committee on Ageing. He feels that now is the time to address the Social Security issue. By gradually raising the age of issuance by two years between now and 2050, it should help ease the financial stress that Social Security places on the 

system. As life expectancy increases, so does the strain of Social Security. He feels that if the increase in retirement age is done gradually, with the first year being added by the year 2027 and another being added before 2050, people will have time to adjust for the change. The Senator also addressed the 

Medicare issue. He expressed his concern that Medicare will become insolvent by the year 2024, according to predictions from the Congressional Budget Office.

Senator Corker spent 1995 to 1996 as the Tennessee Commissioner of Finance and Administration. During his time serving Tennessee on the State level, he was instrumental in getting 40,000 Tennesseeans off of welfare and into jobs. Job stimulation is still a motivating issue and the Senator wants to bring some confidence and stability to the business community that will result in an increased job market. He cited the Healthcare Reform Bill, the Bank Regulation Bill, the over regulation of the EPA and the failure of short term stimulus, as

factors that leave the business community afraid to move from status quo.

Though Corker did support the Budget Control Act of 2011, it was only his awareness of the potential dilemma facing the United States and the resignation that a better compromise was not going to be forth coming that allowed him to cast his vote in favor of the Act. Several weeks before the United States was hit by Standard & Poor’s downgrade of U.S.A.’s credit ranking, the Senator was already vocal about the prospect of the downgrade. The Budget Control Act of 2011 did not sufficiently meet the stipulations for cuts that were outlined by S & P to maintain the AAA credit ranking. Corker believes that the current plan does not cut deep enough or address long term issues that are facing the Nation. The Senator would like to put the “financial Straightjacket” on Congress and commit to 7 trillion in cuts over the next ten years. Senator Corker is in favor of both political parties coming together to produce a plan that place the Nation on firm, financially sound footing and brings back jobs and hope for the future to the citizens of the United States of America.

Staff Photo

Motion To Cut Bus Drivers and Transportation

The regular Monthly Meeting of the Jefferson County Board of School Commissioners was held on Thursday, August 11, 2011 the JCHS Media Center.

The meeting was called to order by Chairman of the Board Potts.

Both the Agenda and Consent Agenda items were approved unanimously.

One Citizen addressed the Board. Sandra Clark requested that the Board give consideration to allowing home schooled students to play on Jefferson County Schools sports teams. 

Under Financial Reports, Potts requested a breakdown of bond issuance cost due to the difference of issuance costs. She also requested a line item budget for reports.

The Board was informed that Nolan’s salary as the energy educator for the County will be paid from County funds. Board Member Loy requested a copy of the contract that the Department of Education entered into with the energy company. 

Loy also requested a review of Board Policy 5.106, which deals with employment. Chairman Potts stated that the next policy meeting is not until September and the issue cannot be discussed until then. Loy and Board Member Solomon both stated that they had received numerous calls regarding the employment practices of the Department of Education.

Under New Business, Board Member Jarnigan made a motion to raise the mileage reimbursement from 46 cents per mile to 47 cents per mile. 47 cents is the legal maximum that can be paid per mile for reimbursement. 2nd Vines - Motion failed with Loy, Bradley and Solomon voting No.

Potts stated that a Settlement offer of $75,000, plus a letter from the Chairman of the Board, to be paid to Community Tectonics was on available for consideration. Board Member Bradley made the motion to accept the settlement offer. The motion died for lack of a 2nd.

The Board was informed that Mediation had upheld a bid award to Sysco that had been contested by U.S. Foods. The mediator found that the bid had been properly awarded. A motion to accept the Sysco bid was made by Jarnigan and 2nd by Solomon. It passed unanimously. 

Loy questioned how the system would determine which of the two energy companies that the Department of Education has contracted with will receive credit for any saving. Accurate accounting of savings is necessary to insure that the County will not be responsible for payment to the companies, as they are both to be paid from the energy cost savings. Director of Schools Edmonds stated that there is not currently a method to determine savings for payment, however Trane deals more with materials and the other company depends on change of habits to lower energy costs. Determination will have to be made if savings are reflective of materials or change in habits, however there is no clear formula for the determination.

Under Unfinished Business the Board removed policy 4.301 pertaining to Interscholastic Sports from the Second Reading of the Policy Changes for Review and Adoption. Upon an motion from Vines and 2nd from Solomon the remainder of the policies listed passed second reading unanimously.

The Board was informed that the Jefferson County Finance Committee voted to not recommend an audit for the Department of Education. The School Board did not elect to pursue the item on their own.

Director of Schools Edmonds recommended that the Board meet the constraints of budget reductions, in the amount of $563,092 by eliminating salaries for bus drivers for the second semester, beginning in January of 2012. Other cuts included the reduction of four bus drivers for the entire school year, not replacing a school finance employee, a reduction in the salary for the energy specialist and a small reduction in the mentor program. Edmonds stated that he felt that the County Commission would be inclined to fund the drivers in a budget amendment, rather than impact transportation. Solomon stated that he did not want to risk the livelihoods of the drivers and the ability of students to attend school. He said that the cuts could come from some of the large salaries, rather than risk the lowest paid employees of the School System. He stated that people need to have job security to plan and that it was not guaranteed that the Commission would agree to allow the adjustment . Potts stated that the schools would be six months into the budget and it is possible they could find other areas to adjust then. She inquired if Director of County Finance Helton had found a trend in why the fund balance continues to increase, so they could identify areas where they have over budgeted. Helton stated that Department of Education did not spend all of their budgeted funds from last year and he anticipates another increase in the fund balance, which is already in the neighborhood of 5 ½ million dollars. He suggested looking at the year end figures and determining where the budget funding exceeded the expenditures to determine areas to cut. Potts stated that they (the Board) have know since July that they were in this position. Loy stated that she questioned why the recommendation for cutting bus drivers was only handed out during the current meeting, since there had been ample time to informed the Board of the recommendation for areas to be cut. Solomon stated that large amounts of money had been found in the past and possibly they (the Department of Education) could find more money, rather than cut transportation. Director of Schools Edmonds stated that he recommends that the Board pass the cuts to bus drivers and the other listed areas and also pass a motion to instruct Helton to request that the County Commission amend the budget to cover the cost of bus drivers for the 2nd semester. Jarnigan made the motion to accept the recommendation of the Director of Schools as it was presented. 2nd Vines.

Bradley made a high privileged motion to postpone the recommendation until the September meeting. 2nd Solomon and failed with a tied vote. Yes - Bradley, Solomon, Loy.

The original motion to cut funding for bus driver for the 2nd semester, as well as other cuts failed with a tied vote. No - Bradley, Loy, Solomon.

Upon a motion from Bradley and Seconded by Solomon, the Board will send a copy of the detailed cost for renovations to JCHS, as well as plans, to the County Commission and the Board will request an informal meeting with the Commission to answer any question and open a dialogue about the conditions at JCHS. The Amended version of the motion, which included track and football field upgrades, passed 5-0, with Jarnigan abstaining. Jarnigan stated that he wanted to break ground on the new Freshman Academy before going before the Commission. 

Board Member Vines stated that Jefferson Middle School is in need of new lights for the football field. The cost will be approximately $60,000.

The Freshman Academy design should be completed by Labor day and bidding on the project completed by October 1, 2011.

New Director of Facilities, Capitol Projects and Transportation Phagan informed the Board that the Trane energy conservation project is moving along. Vending and water conservation is in place and lighting will be completed in some schools soon. He also stated that there were issues with two portables at JCHS and that he anticipates the situation to be resolved by the end of next week. Phagan conveyed his appreciation to the teachers and students that are impacted by the situation and to the kitchen staffs at the schools for all of their hard work.

The meeting was Adjourned.

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August 15, 2011 Go To Page

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