Various board members said the retreat proved helpful for discussions that included upgrading safety equipment in schools, contemplating a plan for capital projects and evaluating the director of schools.
"I felt it was a very successful retreat," Gary Ubben, board member, said. "It allows us to talk informally some and just have more, you know, one-on-one conversations than we do when we're in a formal workshop or a board meeting."
On Friday morning, school principals were allotted 15 minutes each to address the board with concerns, accomplishments and future needs. In the afternoon, board members heard reports from Business Manager Chad Presley, Director of Schools Jason Vance and Loudon County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Billy Hall.
On Saturday, the board talked about career and technical education, school supervisors gave reports and director of schools evaluation results were tallied.
One area of importance that resulted from discussions with principals was school safety, Ubben said.
"Some of the older buildings had doors that were not as secure as they should be," Ubben said. "The door would, if you pulled hard on it, it would lock, but if somebody went out the door and just allowed the closer to close it, the door might not click and lock again. Some things like that that needed to be adjusted."
Collectively, board members addressed the possibility of upgrading security equipment, such as implementing new security cameras in all schools and installing buzz-in locked doors that take photos of visitors during school hours, Board Chairman Bobby Johnson Jr. said.
Ric Best, BOE vice chairman, said security cameras could be funded through grants, while buzz-in doors could be afforded through the BOE capital projects fund balance.
"We may have to replace some doors before we can actually get into that part of it, and since those would be one-time expenses, we could use our fund balance for that kind of a capital project," Best said.
Board members also touched on solidifying a phase two capital projects plan.
Johnson said a special called meeting will be held Thursday to develop a resolution to present to Loudon County Commission on Monday.
In response to a letter from Loudon County Mayor Estelle Herron urging board members to construct a plan of immediate capital project needs, Johnson said the BOE had narrowed its upcoming capital projects to three of the county's schools.
"So, we got together, and we all agreed on one being Loudon High School, two being Highland Park and three being the traffic, I think, out there at North Middle (School)," Johnson said.
The board will also look to sell 80 acres near U.S. Highway 321, which at one time was intended for a high school and middle school.
Russ Newman, Loudon County director of planning and codes enforcement, said the property was purchased in 2006 for $2.2 million. Its appraised value is $3.24 million.
"At the time we bought that property ... this was before the recession hit, and North Middle was growing like crazy, and we were going to build a middle school and a high school there, but it's kind of since the recession hit everything's slowed down a lot, and we don't need it," Johnson said. "Plus, we think it's a bad location now because we don't want to build a high school."
Johnson said the board was looking to add a wing to LHS and Highland Park and is working to resolve traffic flow issues at NMS by allowing a University of Tennessee program to conduct a free study.
Best said agreeing to do the free study would be beneficial for the board because hiring an engineering firm would be "quite expensive."
"We're looking for ways to improve our present plan, and we feel like within the next two to four months all of this will come together," Best said.
Director of Schools Jason Vance received a 3.84 out of 4 on his evaluation, Johnson said.
Ubben said the BOE will look to recommend a one-year extension to Vance's four-year contract.
"I think everybody on the board offered him one or two areas ... where that he could grow and continue to mature in his position just like we can do the same as board members," Best said.
Johnson said the retreat cost about $5,800, equaling the same expenditure as last year.
"I felt like it was a pretty good retreat," Leroy Tate, board member, said. "We hopefully got some directions we need to go with (on) some of the stuff the state's mandated we've got to do."