|Hewlett promises August opening for MJHS|
|Wednesday, May 7, 2008|
By CONNIE ESH
The new Mt. Juliet High School will open on time in August, barring totally unforeseeable issues, Steve Hewlett of Hewlett-Spencer told the Wilson County Board of Education at Monday night’s meeting.
He said any rumors that may have been going around to the contrary could be put to rest.
Director of Schools Mike Davis agreed. "One of my prescriptions is walking, so about two weeks ago I went to Mt Juliet and walked through the school," he told the board. He said it looked to be on schedule.
Part of the concern about a timely opening came following a question by Sheila Kennedy, a parent who appeared to speak against the rezoning of the Martha-Leeville community. She asked what the school board would do if the new high school didn’t open on time.
The new zoning would move some children from Rutland Elementary to the new Elzie Patton Elementary and some to Southside Elementary. The parents requested that all the children in their community go to the same school.
While Kennedy and the other parent who represented the group, April Basham, said they would prefer not moving at all, they also said if the change was needed then they still wanted the group kept together.
Kennedy also asked that her child, a fifth grader who would be moved to Southside, be allowed to go with her classmates to West Middle. "She’s the only child in her class who will be kept in an elementary," Kennedy said.
The board agreed to have a work session on Wednesday, May 21 to discuss the issues and see if changes were possible.
Two other parents, Justin Webb and Tracy Garrett, affected by the rezoning in other areas were granted a one-year exception for their children.
Hewlett also told the board that while his company attorney has started litigation against the Steed Brothers Contractors concerning the damaged gym floor at Wilson Central High School, they are trying to get agreement from the court to allow them to replace the floor this summer.
Hewlett-Spencer would pay the expenses and hopefully recover them via the litigation.
Davis pointed out that there is only a specific "window of opportunity" to replace the floor. "They can’t come in during the basketball season and tear up the floor," he said.
Hewlett agreed saying his concern was that the team not have to spend another season playing on "a patchwork quilt."
The proposed new Lebanon High School appears to be on schedule as well. Davis and Board Chair Teddy Cook said they were planning to attend the Lebanon City Council meeting last night to hear the city’s response to the request to waive building fees.
Assistant Director Mickey Hall told the board that preliminary plans for that school were "in the hands of all interested parties."
Melissa Robinson of the Wilson County Education Association and West Wilson Middle School Principal Wendell Marlow asked the board and Davis to reconsider and renew Dianne Bennett’s 120-day contract to work with teachers at West Wilson Middle School on technology.
Davis said Bennett’s contract had not been renewed due to lack of funds, but reassured Marlow and Robinson that if money should become available he would be glad to renew the contract.
In her final appearance before the board prior to her retirement, Joanne Harrell presented the board with the No Child Left Behind grant, which they approved.
She explained the grant provides funds to help student in low income schools with help in reading and math.
She said it also pays for two reading coaches who work at teaching teachers better ways to help children learn to read.
One segment of the grant has been "zeroed out," she said. It’s the section for working with homeless children. "There are currently 133 homeless children in Wilson County," she told the board. "These are children some of us wouldn’t consider homeless," she added, explaining that many of them go "home" to motels, or move from one house to another often.
She also told the board that at least one school in the county, Watertown Elementary, is trying to help meet the out-of-school needs of these children. Watertown officials send a backpack of food home with the children each weekend.