First, Tennessee was represented at the Race to the Top final interviews by only ONE Superintendent from the entire state, Dr. McIntyre. That speaks volumes about the quality of our Super and we should be very proud of him. I will revisit that point at the end of this post.
Second, the pension conversation was horrible. Why can’t you stop paying the promised pension to the retired teachers who depend on it to live? Because you are contractually obligated and saying that the seniors should just tighten their belts was ridiculous. Asking how long before they would die and release you of the obligation was brutal and you deserved the cold responses you got from the firm handling the pension. That said, a financial investment firm who says “If it makes you feel any better, ALL of our clients are having to invest extra cash this year,” are not doing a good job of promoting their firm. The next time Knox County needs an investment firm, they won’t be calling you.
Third, one ream of paper is 500 sheets and costs less than four dollars when purchased in bulk. Your handouts are what, a dozen pages? Since you haven’t spent enough time on the school’s website to learn that absolutely everything is available there, perhaps you should stick to the printed notes and not worry about that few dollars of paper per month. After you learn to use the laptop and take notes on it, then we’ll revisit this subject. Maybe you can take a class on using the computer & KCS site with the board member who doesn’t know to turn off the sound before visiting websites completely unrelated to the meeting that you are being paid to attend.
Fourth, a huge thank you to the board member who is paying attention to the community members who are begging the schools to explain how fees are spent. That money is used for supplies and events, but people don’t realize how much it is needed. Tell parents exactly what students are learning when they visit a museum, but also tell how much it costs just to put the students on a bus. Explain how expensive it is to purchase and maintain musical instruments, but clarify why the benefits are much greater than the costs.
Fifth, after about two hours of the meeting, my mind drifted. The room was a billion degrees and I was hungry. It took less than three minutes to fill out my census paperwork and my family is probably twice the size of yours. Fill out your form and mail it.
Finally, the post script to the meeting that happens after the reporters have fled the room is a community forum. This evening’s forum was all about the consequences of the budget. There were appeals from the teachers’ union and the school losing the most teachers to rethink cutting out the most important learning tool, teachers. Then, there were two former students and a co-worker praising a teacher who is not just losing his job, but his entire department. Most importantly, that very teacher spoke for himself, his program and his students. It was heart wrenching and left me feeling like I had been run over by a train. Go to the very end of the video (183:35) and watch this teacher speak. After the camera stopped rolling, the Superintendent got up from his seat at the table and walked directly to this teacher. I repeat what I said earlier. Be very proud of the man who is in charge of Knox County Schools. It doesn’t matter if he agrees or disagrees with everything that you believe. He is sincerely trying to do the right thing.