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Search for Weakley County School director approved

Story by Shannon Taylor Senior Investigative Reporter

The Director search plan was approved after much discussion and the search for a director to replace the current Director of Weakley County Schools Randy Frazier, moves forward. The application for the director had some changes and some questions were removed, and those questions removed plan to be asked during the interview phase. On Wed. Feb 8 the applications will go out and March 10 will be the deadline for the applications.

When discussion was brought up surrounding moving forward with a new director, Frazier said, “You can’t wait to start doing anything until the last minute, particularly around the school calendar. We’ve started that HVAC project last summer where we did Dresden Middle and took a portion of Westview trying to complete those two buildings and get them off the chiller and get them stand-alone units-that is 1/3 of the project. We still lack Dresden Elementary, and we still lack completing at Westview.”

Frazier said that at Dresden Elementary-that building has been there for 26 years and that at any point there could be a serious issue regarding no working air conditioning or heat. Frazier said that money was spent out of the fund balance last year and that it has been put off until the price has now doubled and even tripled. “We still like at least eight million dollars’ worth of work.”

Frazier said that if something doesn’t happen within the next couple of months, there won’t be any work in the summer being done. “You’re looking at a best-case scenario of summer 2024 before you can do that work because you’ve got to get your bidding done and equipment ordered.”

Frazier stated that in the last 14 years, the school has only had to go to the county commission one time asking for money. “This project is not going to get done on the school budget. We don’t have the money to do that. Your phones will blow off the wall if these units go out at this time next year.”

Approximately 60% of the county’s budget goes to schools. 70% of the school’s budget goes to teacher salary and benefits. Board member John Hatler asked, “What has to happen to avoid this? To avoid having to go ask the county commission for 12 million dollars?”

Frazier said, “The easiest way is to do like Henry County. All debt services go directly to the school system. That’s a long conversation. We get the least amount of money per capital than any district around here for schools. Our taxes are lower. We’ve not gotten an increase in pennies in 14 years. When taxes had gone up on one occasion, we got cut our percentage. This county has to decide they are committed to providing the best quality education for our kids. Our economic development has not grown because we don’t work toward making it grow. If we got the funding that some of the other folks did, there’s no telling what we could do.”

Frazier also stated that the county needs to figure out a way to get more revenue coming in stating that jobs were needed and more people moving in was also needed, but that those things just weren’t happening right now. “In the last five years we’ve lost almost 500 students in the city of Martin. We’ve lost that many in other surrounding communities. Our population has declined a little bit, but that’s not the only reason-there is almost 420 kids right now that just don’t go to school-they’re homeschooling.”

Frazier said that new legislation says that state money will go to homeschoolers. “If that happens, your county government better open their pocketbook. I think there needs to be a plan on a commitment from everyone.”

Frazier plans on speaking to the commission regarding the funds needed.

The board moved its recognition of teachers that received tenure due partially to weather conditions, but also because one teacher, Hillary Shannon of Westview High School, was left off the list last month. The recognition of all the teachers, as well as the addition, will be done at the March board meeting.

A graduation date has been set for this year for May 19. Frazier said, “We’ve always waited to see what the weather does before we set the date, but I think we’re in pretty good shape.” Frazier said that there are six remaining stockpile days.

Students in HOSA future health professionals Region Competition Results for upper west Tennessee were recognized for their success. Kiersten Wilson, 1st place in clinical nursing, Deborah Shaw, 1st place in epidemiology, Joey Meeks, 2nd place in physical therapy, Olivia Garner, 2nd place in pharmacology, Cara Hatler, 2nd place in medical spelling, Abbey Buchanan, 3rd place in medical law and ethics, Lexie Jones, 4th place in cultural diversities and disparities in health care, Mary Chester, 5th place in nutrition, Jack Wiley, 5th place in sports medicine, Ashlee Carter and Natasia Smith, first aid and CPR, Piper Johnson, 5th place in dental terminology, Elta Hamlin,, health issue exam and BriAnna Archabal, health issue exam.

The Weakley County School Board will meet on Thursday, March 2 at 5:00 p.m. at Sharon School.

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