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School Board struggles with different contracts amidst protest

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By BEN DUDLEYThe Wilson Post

Protesters carrying signs that said “Patriots respect the office of the President,” “Stop censoring positive messages” and “Mr. Davis the Dictator” lined the entrance of the parking lot of the Wilson County Board of Education prior to its meeting held this past Thursday.

The protestors were upset that students in Wilson County Schools were not allowed to view President Barack Obama’s recent speech to students encouraging them to stay in school.

 “We didn’t have a choice,” said one of the protestors, Mike Locke, who has children in Wilson Central High School and West Wilson Middle School. “He (Director of Schools Mike Davis) didn’t ask parents or teachers, but he’s gonna let (State Rep.) Susan Lynn come and speak.”

Locke and others spoke at the beginning of the meeting and echoed Locke’s views.

As for the business part of the meeting, it was business as usual until Zone 2 member Lisa McMillin made a motion during the approval of the consent agenda to remove two items, contracts with Better Business Solutions and Wilson County Snacks, respectively, and approve the rest of the consent agenda. McMillin said she had talked to County Attorney Mike Jennings about certain stipulations with these contracts.

Jennings said that he also had some concerns with the contracts, mainly an Evergreen Renewal clause, which automatically renews the contract every year without notifying the board, and the stipulation that all disputes must be filed in Federal District Court in Nashville. The board then moved to have Jennings discuss these reservations with the companies.

Jennings came back before the board during the Recommendations from the Director as Zone 3 member Don Weathers wanted to discuss the school board’s contract with the water/sewer department. Although Jennings said he had convinced the utility to make some small changes in the contract, Weathers had 14 different problems with the document.

“This contract is so one-sided,” Weathers said, “that I can’t vote for it. They are a public entity as we are. Why would they do these things to us?”

“These things” Weathers referred to are the utility’s ability to shut off the schools’ water and sewer at any time for any reason, transfer the contract to another entity even though the board cannot, and change the contract at anytime without the board being able to object.

“I agree with you,” Jennings said, “but it’s hard to negotiate with them because they’re the only game in town.”

The board then decided to defer the contract to October’s meeting so that Jennings can have time to attempt to change the items with which the board had concerns.

The Wilson County Board of Education will meet in regular session at 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 5 at the Central Office, 351 Stumpy Lane, Lebanon.

Staff Writer Ben Dudley may be contacted at ben@wilsonpost.com.

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