School officials unhappy with LCís portion of tax
By: Mark Hudson
Source: Loudon County News-Herald

Lenoir City Board of Education members agreed after a lengthy discussion Thursday they were not pleased with Loudon County Commissionís recent decision to give their school system only 15 percent of the revenues from the recently passed adequate facilities tax, asking Director of Schools Wayne Miller to pursue an opinion from the state attorney general on how the funds should be divided.

Loudon County Commissioners decided at Mondayís county commission meeting to divide the funds based on the total number of Loudon County School students vs. the number of county students attending Lenoir City Schools, a ratio roughly 85 to 15.

Miller and other board members said they feel the funds should be distributed based on the weighted full-time equivalency formula by which other revenues are distributed between the two systems. According to Miller, using this formula would give Lenoir City approximately one third of the adequate facility tax funds.

"How can we just get 15 percent?" asked board member Mitch Ledbetter. "I think we donít participate in this PBA (Public Building Authority) project."

Likewise, board member Rick Chadwick called the 85-15 split "embarrassing."

Other members noted the sales tax revenue generated within Lenoir City goes to support county schools.

Ultimately, board members asked Miller to seek an opinion from the state attorney general on how the funds should be divided, a process both Miller and Attorney James Simpson said could take several months.

Although Lenoir City Schools has committed to provide information to the PBA, Miller said the board has, to this point, made no financial commitments to the program. Any decision to do so will likely be delayed while the attorney generalís opinion is sought.

Board members also voted to allow two students recently suspended in an Airsoft gun incident to make up the work they missed during a 10-day suspension. Originally, five students were suspended for 10 days, removed from the high school football team and barred from any extracuricular activities for the remainder of the year after an incident at the high schoolís field house involving an Airsoft gun, a spring powered toy gun fashioned to look like a real weapon that fires small foam pellets at a high rate of speed.

The students allegedly had the Airsoft gun at the field house, and some of the five allegedly fired it at another student.

Two students appealed the Disciplinary Hearing Authorityís (DHA) decision, asking they be allowed to attend the junior prom and to make up missed work.

It is official Lenoir City Schools policy that any work missed during a suspension result in a "0" grade. However, members of the DHA on hand at Thursday morningís meeting said it was their original intent to allow the students to make up the work, saying they did not want one incident to result in the students failing their classes.

"I have said all along they should be punished in a social manner," said board member Rick Chadwick.

Board member Mike Henline agreed, saying the board "should not penalize them academically in any way."

Ultimately, board members voted to allow the students to make up the work and to attend prom. A second motion to allow the students to participate in extracurricular activities beginning in January was voted down three votes to two, with Henline, Bobby Johnson and Ledbetter voting against and Rosemary Quillen and Chadwick voting for the motion.

In other business, board members approved two projects, one for middle school roofing and the second for new lighting in the high school auditorium.

Weeks and Ambrose, the firm which oversaw the construction the Career and Technical Center, will handle the roofing project, while Tennessee Lighting Company will conduct the $84,000 auditorium lighting project.