Cannon schools racing to the top

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Education officials are seeking to make Tennessee the fastest-improving state in the country in terms of the new education reform.

While the state and upper Cumberland region wants to be the fastest-improving in regard to “Race To The Top,” Cannon County’s educational system will strive to become the fastest-improving county in Tennessee, according to Director of Schools Barbara Parker.

“We want to be the fastest-improving county in the state (regarding Race To The Top),” Parker told board members during the regular monthly meeting of the Cannon County Board of Education at Woodbury Grammar School Thursday (Oct. 11).

“We know it takes a lot of hard work and teaching is hard but we do accept the challenge,” Parker said. “We know what the challenges are and we are going to meet them head on.”

Three years ago, Tennessee's education system struggled with poor student outcomes and inadequate standards that did not properly prepare students for the demands of college or work after high school. Today, Tennessee is in position to achieve proficiency, and is committed to the leading the nation in developing education leaders.

At the heart of improving student achievement is a focus on three main student performance goals: young students' academic readiness, high school graduates' readiness for college and careers, and higher rates of graduates enrolling and succeeding in post-secondary education. Amongst these initiatives, Tennessee has a renewed focus on developing and improving great teachers and leaders in Tennessee classrooms. Tennessee's First to the Top plan has given the state unique resources and financial opportunities - placing renewed focus on the classroom teacher and a more dedicated focus on encouraging student achievement.

Cannon County already has seen positive results regarding new state testing standards. East Side was cited as one of the state’s Award Schools in 2012, a high achievement for schools competing at the highest level academically.

Board Chairman Randy Gannon questioned whether the pressure on teachers to produce higher scores is too great of a challenge.

“I have watched this and we know there will be more change,” Gannon said. “How is the attitude with all of this? There is added pressure to teachers and the staff and it just seems like it adds up more and more. It is a low gear to high gear type of thing. When you get to high gear they expect it to be 100 miles per hour and then all of a sudden you have to go back or change again.”

Parker told board members that posters will be placed in the schools to encourage students and teachers about the desire to be the best in the state.

In other business, the board of education declined the offer for solar panels to be affixed to the roof of Woodbury Grammar School. The solar panels would have been purchased and placed atop the roof by a private investor. The lease would have been a 15-year lease for 1,000 per year.

Chris Blackburn made the motion to reject the deal and Bruce Daniel seconded.

“I want it known that I am not against the solar energy and we need to look at this but this just doesn’t seem to be the best deal for us at this time,” Daniel said.

The board approved the extended contract update and report cards. They also approved moving forward with filing of liquidated damages against the Four Seasons of Knoxville for work on the HVAC system. The deadline was missed by eight days and there was a charge of $100 per day for each day the project was delayed in being completed.

The next board meeting workshop will be at the Central Office Nov. 6 at 6 p.m., and the next regular board meeting will be Nov. 8 at Woodbury Grammar School at 6 p.m.


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