WCS school board welcomes grant money

Members debate, ultimately approve fees for 2020-21

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Williamson County School Board

Nancy Garrett, vice chairman of the Williamson County School District Board of Education, directed Monday’s meeting in the absence of Gary Anderson, the board chairman. Monday’s meeting was just the second in 30 years that Anderson failed to attend.

The Williamson County School District Board of Education met on Monday and approved a list of budget amendments.  

The district has accepted more than $500,000 from the state’s Safe Schools Grant and also accepted just over $840,000 as a subrecipient of the Governor’s Give Grant to Columbia State Community College, which will go toward a mobile cybersecurity unit in the district’s career and technical education program. 

Superintendent Jason Golden said the district plans for this new program to be available as early as this fall. 

The district also received from Batelle Education a grant of $5,000 to go toward STEM education. 

The board sent a few budget requests along to the County Commission. One such request is for more than $6 million to fund such things as paving, roof and wastewater maintenance that are budgeted for this year and within the district’s five-year plan. Another is for $18 million to begin building an elementary school on the eastern side of the county. The district has not yet announced the location of this new school, but the entire project is expected to cost about $28 million. The school is tentatively set to open in the fall of 2021. 

The board also passed its school fees for the 2020-21 school year with a 9-1 vote, although some board members expressed confusion and general disapproval regarding the charging of fees within a public education system.  

District 12 board member Nancy Garrett said that she’s heard these fees described as a way to relieve some of the tax burden from families who don’t have children in school. District 6 board member Jay Galbreath, who voted against the resolution, suggested that the district eliminate fees tied to extracurricular activities in hopes that the district would, perhaps, see additional funding come through the schools’ parent-teacher organizations. 

At last week’s school board work session, Mark Samuels, the assistant superintendent for operations, gave an update on the district’s ongoing capital projects, beginning with the newly named Legacy Middle School, which will be finished in August. 

Samuels said that an addition to Independence High is complete and renovations at Page Middle and Page High will wrap up in March and April of next year, respectively. Additionally, renovations to Franklin High’s athletic building are on track to be completed this coming September. 

He said that later this month a bid will go out for construction of a Sunset Middle auditorium, a project that will complete the board’s 10-year vision of having a performing arts center in every middle school in the district.  

A bid for renovations at Brentwood High is also slated to go out in May. 

The school board’s next meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. March 16 at the county’s administrative complex.

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