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Dandridge, Tennessee

July 30, 2012


DOE Director Edmonds Addresses Advanced Placement Success

Staff Photo / Dandridge Fire Department responding to automobile fire in close proximity to gasoline pumps at local store early Saturday morning
Working to establish a more complete dual enrollment program

Jefferson County High School has recently received student scores for the Advanced Placement Test which was taken last May. Advanced Placement Courses are offered at Jefferson County High School in a variety of subject matter. A combined studies class of English and History is offered on both the junior and senior levels. Other subject areas such as science, math and art, as well as economics and government, also have advanced placement offerings for students. The structure of Advanced Placement (AP) is that classes are taught by high school teachers at the local school level, however the course work mimics college level content and work load. At the end of the course, students take a standardized test to determine if they are eligible for college credit. Student tests are scored on a 1-5 scale. The score of a 4 or 5 will result in the student receiving college credit for the course. The score of a 3 is acceptable at some local and community colleges, however is generally, with the exception of 2nd tier calculus, not broadly accepted. In some cases, such as foreign language, the class is acknowledged with a score of a 3 but there is no college credit earned. The 2011- 2012 school year was the first year of a new policy at Jefferson County High School that encouraged all students taking Advanced Placement Classes to take the end of course exam.

Previously, only a small percentage of students opted to take the credit exam. AP courses are structured around the exam and are designed with acquiring college credit as the course goal. According to information provided by Jefferson County High School, 287 students took the AP test last Spring. These were given in all AP subjects. Of those 287 students tested, 26 % scored a 4 or a 5 in their subject matter. Around 30% scored a 3 on the exam. Director of Jefferson County School, Charles Edmonds, stated “We are evaluating the appropriateness and success of our AP courses. We realize that there is much room for improvement and part of the academic goals that will be presented to the School Board soon will address our efforts to make improvements in this area. It is important to address, not only enrollment numbers in AP courses, but to question the level of achievement reflected in those numbers of students scoring a level that will result in college credit. This is true of every Advanced Placement Course”.  Director Edmonds and the staff at Jefferson County High School have been working to establish a more complete dual enrollment program. The Dual enrollment program offers students the opportunity to take college courses while still in high school. The difference in Dual enrollment and AP courses is that dual enrollment courses are taught by a college instructor and are actually a part of that college curriculum. The student is awarded college credit for the course, as long as they maintain a satisfactory grade in the course.

Simplified, it splits the student’s time between college and high school classes. The cost of the program is supplemented by a Dual Enrollment grant that is offered through the State of Tennessee. The cost of the AP placement exam falls to the individual student, as does the remaining cost, beyond the dual enrollment grant, for college dual enrollment courses. In the past, there have been some obstacles for Jefferson County students regarding dual enrollment. As recently as last year, Jefferson County High School instigated a policy that juniors, who met eligibility requirements of both the college and State, could not take dual enrollment English. In an interview with former Assistant Director of School McFall last year, she stated that Jefferson County High School could better prepare juniors for the ACT college placement exam, than could a college. Students must take the ACT exam and receive a minimum score in subject area before they are allowed to enroll in college classes, therefore any junior interested in college level English would have already completed and adequately scored on the ACT test.

Other obstacles include the amount high school credit awarded vs. college credit. Jefferson County High School has had a policy of ½ of a high school credit per college class, meaning that it takes two semesters of college English to equal one semester of high school English. Seat hours, meaning the amount of time that a student spends in a classroom to be eligible for credit in that class, are no longer a mandate of the State of Tennessee. According to the State Department of Education, the removal of seat hour requirement was to allow for dual enrollment and other advanced learning opportunities. Director Edmonds stated his interest in increasing dual enrollment opportunities, both on and off campus, for Jefferson County High School students. He said that curriculum enhancement and direction was his priority going into the 2012-2013 school year and that it is the goal to make Jefferson County a launching pad for higher learning and career readiness.

Tennova To Cease Acceptance Of CIGNA Health August 31st

Negotiations Currently Underway


Tennova will cease to accept Cigna health insurance, as of August 31, 2012. The Tennova brand operates Jefferson Memorial Hospital, the only hospital in Jefferson County. Though some if its affiliated physicians may choose to extend their relationship with Cigna, it will be the individual physician’s office that will choose to make that decision. Jefferson County School System and Jefferson County employees are insured on the State of Tennessee plan. The State plan offers the choice of one of two carriers, Cigna and Blue Cross Blueshield. Because of constraints of the Blue Cross Blueshield option, most Jefferson County residents choose the Cigna option as their health insurance carrier. Kristi Wolf, Benefits Coordinator for the Jefferson County School System, stated that she had received information several weeks ago that Tennova would not accept Cigna health insurance after the end of August. More than 1,000 people are employed by the Jefferson County School System, making it one of the largest employers in the County. 79% of those employed by the Jefferson County School System use Cigna health insurance and 55% of retirees that are not yet Medicare eligible use Cigna.  Jefferson County Mayor Alan Palmieri stated that he had become aware of the situation through concerned employees that had received the information that Cigna health insurance would no longer be accepted at the County’s hospital. The Mayor stated that he contacted Tennova and was informed that the contract with Cigna has expired and that the companies are operating on an extension of that contract that will expire on August 31, 2012. Cigna is also a heavy carrier for County employees, as well as many other Jefferson County Citizens. Kristi Wolf stated that this is a serious situation for many Jefferson County residents and that the hope is that contractual negotiations between Cigna and Tennova will be successful and an agreement can be reached. Mayor Palmieri said that he is confident that the two companies will come to an agreement. David Bunch, CEO of the Jefferson Memorial Hospital (Tennova), stated Friday afternoon that Tennova is in the process of trying to negotiate with Cigna. Tennova gave an official statement on Friday afternoon -

"We consider CIGNA a valued healthcare partner and have worked with CIGNA on an extension to continue to keep Tennova Healthcare in-network as we continue our discussions.  This is a testament to our long-standing relationship as we actively work together to reach a resolution prior to the end of the August 31, 2012 extension.

Providing quality care to East Tennessee is our top priority and we have been honored to be the healthcare provider of choice for CIGNA members throughout the years.  We will do everything in our power to reach a positive outcome so that there is not a disruption in healthcare services for our CIGNA patients."

Tennova will mark their 1st anniversary of the assumption of the Jefferson Memorial Hospital lease from St. Mary’s this Fall.  Health Management Associates, which operates the Tennova brand, came under fire recently due to allegations of Medicare fraud at other facilities. HMA has acknowledged that is did receive a federal subpoena for information. Tennova is a for profit organization and Jefferson Memorial currently operates as a for profit hospital.

Early Voting Numbers Are In


Early voting closed for the August 2, 2012 election on Saturday. According to information provided by the Jefferson County Election Office, 2,301 Jefferson County residents voted early and there were 115 accumulated absentee votes as of Saturday, July 28, 2012, for a total early vote of 2,416.  Early voter turnout increased on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week with Wednesday’s votes cast breaking the 200 mark for the first time in this early voting opening and Thursday totals coming in at 214 votes cast. Friday, July 27th was the high voting day of the early voting series, bringing in 325 total count on that day. There were three Saturdays in the early voting period and the first two had a low showing of well less than 100 votes cast per day. The final voting Saturday, as well as the closing day of early voting, showed 160 voters taking advantage of the early voting opportunity. Historically, with the exception of the November Presidential election, Jefferson County votes in a 50/50 split, early voting and poll voting numbers nearly mirroring themselves. If that trends hold during poll voting on August 2, 2012, Jefferson County is on track to vote just under 5,000 total votes. Election Director Charles Gibson stated that the Presidential cycle August election typically has the lowest voter turn out, however he expects 4 times the amount of voter turnout in the November Presidential election. Few locally contested races may be a contributing factor in the low current voting numbers. The State House of Representative race and the State Senate race will be impacted by voter turnout in other counties, as district splits have Jefferson County sharing representation with neighboring counties. Residents are reminded to bring photo identification to the voting polls on August 2nd.  The Jefferson County Historic Courthouse and all Jefferson County offices will be closed on August 2, 2012.


Search For American Climbers In Mountains Of Peru Comes To A Tragic Close

By Jake Depew, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer

On Saturday, July 28, 2012, the bodies of two American climbers were found in the mountains of Peru. A search had been led for the missing men for several days prior to the discovery. Ben Horne and Gil Weiss, the climbers, had been attempting to climb Palcaraju Oesta, a 6,110-meter tall mountain in the Huaraz province. Weiss was the founder of Beyond Adventure, a company that consists of professional guides, photographers, and logistics experts for climbing. The men had updated a chronicle of their journey to a climbing blog website,, indicating that the men had been missing for the past five to ten days. Evidence shows that Horne and Weiss perished after a fall from the southwest ridge of their descent. Both Horne and Weiss were experienced climbers and in good health, indicating that their deaths were caused simply by the dangerous physical landscape of the mountain itself.



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July 30, 2012 Go To Page

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