The Wilson County Schools Board of Education voted 5-2 against changing the start time for the school day back to the times used prior to the current school year at its meeting Monday night.
Board members Wayne McNeese and Kimberly McGee voted to change the times, which are 15 minutes later (some schools are 30 minutes later) than in previous years.
The need for more buses, as well as drivers, propelled the discussion about the change.
“Parents today do not have the time to take their children to school and still make it to work on time,” McNeese said. “If we move the starting time back, parents can take them to school and that might free up some bus space as well. “
Board Vice Chairman Linda Armistead said she was against changing the time in the middle of the school year, adding that “for the purposes of computerizing and setting (the bus schedules and other related issues) up, it could be time consuming right now.
“I don’t know what is involved in (the programming of bus schedules, and related matters). That would be a disruptive situation for the schools. Even for the parent who want to (take their children to school), they already have schedules and there are extracurricular activities involved.”
McGee said that she has been told about students who miss an entire period of school because they had to leave early because of extracurricular activities, including athletics.
“They’re missing the period due to the change in start and stop times and that’s unacceptable,” McGee said. “That’s a huge red flag for me. There’s a TCA code that says they can’t do that without board approval, but it says playing or practicing, as opposed to traveling.”
Former educator Mike Gwaltney, who is now a board member, said that that has always happened and has nothing to do with the start or end time change.
“Whether they had to miss part of a class or all of a class,” he said. “It’s a problem, but it’s been a problem for a long time.”
McGee said that she is concerned with traffic backing up around Wilson Central High School at the beginning and end of school.
“It’s horrible in that area,” she said. “That 15-minute (time change) has not been a blessing for those students.”
Traffic on State Route 109, and areas of Mt. Juliet if there is an accident, has caused some delays around the school, WCS Director Dr. Donna Wright said, noting that construction is a factor that has to be considered in getting a bus driver to school.
Armistead said that changing the “time element hasn’t made a difference in travel time. I’m not sure changing the time would make it better.”
Tax payment update
County attorney Mike Jennings updated the board on the recent ruling in the liquor-by-the-drink lawsuit between Wilson County Schools and the City of Mt. Juliet.
Wilson County Schools won its case against the Mt. Juliet last month, winning a judgement of $472,660.48 for payments from liquor-by-the-drink taxes. In addition to the amount given to WCS, the school system was awarded a 4.5 percent pre-judgment interest on each payment from the time the payment was due until the court date, according to Jennings.
That 4.5 percent was calculated to be more than an additional $200,000, bringing the total to $675,422.
Jennings said that Mt. Juliet approved the payment of the total amount on a first reading but deferred the action on a second reading.
He added that the award stated that if the payment is not made by a to-be-determined date, an assessment of 7.5 percent of the amount owed will go into effect, which Mt. Juliet will be required to pay.
“There’s more to come on this, but you are in a very strong position,” Jennings said.