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Stout elected to another term as chairman of the Carter County School Board

John Thompson • Sep 19, 2019 at 10:25 PM

ELIZABETHTON —The Carter County School Board elected to keep the same leadership for another year.

By unanimous votes, the board returned Jerry Stout as chairman and Tony Garland as vice chairman for the coming year. The two served in the same roles last school year.

“I appreciate the confidence the board has shown,” Stout said immediately after the board took the vote for chairman. Stout acknowledged that his first term as chairman had involved some growing and learning and assured the board that he would address what he saw as areas for improvement.

One of those, he said, was communication.

“I am going to be better at communication than I was last year,” Stout told the board.

The board heard from several people who were not professional educators. One of them was Alex Caldwell, a student at Happy Valley High School. As part of his program for Eagle Scout, Caldwell wants to construct a large meeting room on the Happy Valley campus.

Caldwell told the board that the cost of materials for the project will be between $10,000 and $12,000. He is in the process of lining up fundraisers. The board also unanimously approved a motion to help fund some of the materials.

Another non-educator was Patty Woodby. She has a daughter who is a senior at Hampton High School. Woodby is also a county commissioner and a deputy clerk with the Carter County Circuit Court office.

Woodby told the board that her job with the courts has made her appreciate how one bad choice by a student could negate all the good that educators have instilled in a student through his or her academic career.

She spoke of one valedictorian in the school system that is facing that problem, as well as the fact that many scholarships can be taken away because of a felony conviction.

“The bad part is that many of these students are not even aware that what they did was a crime,” Woodby said.

As an example she cited the example of a valedictorian who graduated in May and got in serious trouble in June.

Woodby said she has thought of a way to teach students about the lifelong impact that a bad choice might have for them. She came up with an idea of having community leaders the students could relate to.

Woodby said she has already enlisted five leaders of the local judicial system to speak to the students. She said the panel includes the two Criminal Court judges from the First Judicial District, Judge Stacy Street and Judge Lisa Rice. She also got three leading defense attorneys to join the panel: Steve Finney, Ryan Curtis, and assistant public defender Melanie Sellers.

The board also approved the transfer of funds to allow the technology department to hire additional personnel to keep up with the growing inventory of computer equipment.

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