Mascots, sports, lunches, school safety and recognizing retirees were all on the agenda June 7 at the Weakley County School Board meeting in Dresden.
At the request of the newly formed Charger Foundation, with the affirmation of all principals affected and the City of Martin board, “Chargers” will now be the mascot and team name for all Martin schools. The Weakley County School Board approved the name change, which will now be effective in the new school year.
Foundation chairperson Elizabeth Pritchett said, “We know change is painful. We recognize that some of it will need to be phased in.”
According to material distributed at the meeting, the new foundation, which is seeking 501-c3 status, is a community-based organization for “enhancing the educational opportunities offered to children in the Martin School System through solicitation of funds, expertise and greater involvement from parents, businesses, and the community at large.”
The group has already begun researching other similar foundations and is in the process of completing paperwork that will establish their nonprofit status and make raising funds and providing mini-grants possible.
Such comprehensive coverage of the schools will be made easier with common “branding,” said Pritchett, who represented the group in a request to change mascots and colors to Chargers and blue and gold.
Pritchett outlined the process thus far noting that the group had met with all four principals and the City of Martin board. She referred to a letter of support from Mayor Randy Brundige, and principals who were present at the meeting were allowed to speak to the issue
Westview Principal Jeromy Davidson responded to comments regarding an “identity crisis” with each school currently having its own mascot replying, “If you’re in Dresden, you’re a Lion from the time you’re born. If you’re in Greenfield, you’re a Yellowjacket. If you’re in Gleason, you’re a Bulldog. We want to be a Charger from the time you’re born.”
The costs and urgency of rebranding the elementary and middle schools were acknowledged during the board discussion. Pritchett said research was underway regarding short- and long-term implications and viable solutions.
“You can’t make everybody happy,” Pritchett said in response to possible pushback. “But we do need to move forward.”
Also included in the meeting’s agenda was an introduction of a school safety plan that will be covered in August’s teacher in-service training, approval for a name change for the Weakley County Center for Adult and Continuing Education to the Weakley County Personal Development Center, and an increase of 25 cents for elementary school lunches (excluding the reduced rate lunches, which will remain 40 cents).
In speaking to the lunch increase Trista Snider, Weakley County School Nutrition Director, said the additional funds would provide more options for students and help to control inventory. Elementary students will now receive an extra cup of fruit and more grains and meats throughout the week. As an example of how the move will help control inventory, Snider detailed how having similar size buns for the schools (which is currently not the case) would allow for coverage if one school had a need and another had overage.
The board also approved the addition of volleyball at Westview and Scott Adams as a volunteer coach for Greenfield junior high softball and Timothy Merritt Spence as a volunteer coach for Westview football.
Several policy revisions were approved related to administrative matters such as allocating federal funds received from the Read to be Ready Summer Grant. One revision regarding volunteer coaches was determined to need further clarification and was tabled to be discussed at the next board meeting.
When addressing Director Randy Frazier’s evaluation and subsequent contract extension and raise, Vantrease expressed gratitude as he noted that the results of the evaluation process were “exemplary and in keeping with his performance of the last few years.”
Frazier replied, “I’ve coached a long time and I know that accolades are because of the people who surround you. I’m surrounded by good folk.”
To conclude the meeting, Frazier introduced three new principals — Lee Lawrence at Gleason, Melanie Needham at Dresden Elementary, and John Gardner at Martin Middle – and joined Vantrease in presenting awards to the retiring teachers who represented a combined total in excess of 500 years of teaching experience.
Stories on the new school safety training plan and the 15 retiring teachers and administrators are included in the June 12 edition of the Press. Subscribe now for #localnews delivered to your home or in-box.