The board voted to hire Five Points Insurance to conduct the negotiations. Board members pointed to how the commission saved $250,000 this year by using Sequoyah to negotiate with insurance companies on the county’s behalf.
While the board is hopeful of also seeing some savings when the negotiated results come in, Director of Schools Kevin Ward said there are significant differences between the county government’s health insurance coverage and the one the school board uses. Ward said it was like “comparing apples and oranges.” He said that while the county government has its own separate insurance plan, the school system is part of a state plan that includes many school systems.
Following the meeting, Board Chairman Jerry Stout said this was just the start of the process and it will take a year of negotiations to know the results.
In other matters, Supervisor Danny McClain said student attendance has been very good, reaching 97 percent during a time normally considered peak flu season. While there has been no problem with student enrollment, McClain said was not the case with staff attendance. He said 56 staff members were out on one day and at 80 on another day. McClain told the board he will continue to monitor the attendance data.
While it is still the depth of winter, the Carter County School System’s Maintenance Shop is already making plans for next summer’s building projects. The board was presented with a list of potential projects, which included:
• Demolishing old modular units at Hunter Elementary.
• Fixing leaks in the metal roof at Cloudland Elementary.
• Installing new bleachers at Hampton Elementary.
• Repaving the parking lot and doing some drainage work at Happy Valley High School.
• Repaving the front parking area and drive at Hampton High School. The project has been discussed project with Carter County Highway Department and some savings could be realized.
• Installing a through-roof chimney for a new boiler at Happy Valley High School.
• If any funds are left, upgrades to restrooms at lower end of hallway at Happy Valley High School including fixtures, stalls, ceiling, some wall tile and other items.
None of these items have been approved by the board yet. They will be financed by the half-cent local option sales tax dedicated to school capital projects and must first be drawn up by an architect and sent out for requests for proposals. Once that has been completed and the costs of the projects are known, the board can consider which projects to commit to this summer.