Citizens again voice concerns about Maryville Schools director
Daily Times, The (Maryville, TN)-June 14, 2012 Author: Matthew Stewart|
The crowd was smaller, the name outside the school was different, but everything else was more or less the same.
In May 2011, 50 concerned parents and students congregated for two hours outside the Maryville City Schools Central Office to protest the district's decisions.
The protesters, who rotated in and out throughout the day, never numbered more than 20 people at any given time.
The group also encouraged school board members to approve a motion of no confidence regarding Director of Schools Stephanie Thompson and refuse to extend her contract during their June meeting. The parliamentary motion is a form of censure.
Five people gathered June 1 outside the formerly named Maryville Intermediate School and waved signs requesting a vote of no confidence.
Meanwhile, a group of more than 60 people organized their own efforts to support Thompson at the meeting. They wore buttons created by parent Candy Morgan that read: "MCS puts all students first."
Five citizens spoke in Thompson's defense. Only one person spoke against the director.
Board members unanimously approved a one-year contract extension for Thompson.
"lack of transparency"
During Tuesday's meeting at Montgomery Ridge Intermediate School, two community members addressed board members about Thompson's contract. Diane Pezick and Jackie Palmer, who have both taken out petitions for the Nov. 6 election, voiced concerns about the director and the board's evaluation.
Morgan, Sam Duck and board Vice Chairman Doug Jenkins have also collected petitions for the Nov. 6 election.
"Since last year, we've had some surprises that shouldn't have been surprises," Palmer said. "They've contributed to a growing sense of a lack of transparency."
She questioned how the district acquired an additional $3.5 million in fund balance.
In December 2010, Maryville City Schools had $2.4 million in undesignated fund balance and $1.2 million in designated fund balance. In November 2011, the district's total fund balance was $7,115,521.
"We almost doubled our fund balance," Palmer said. "The public didn't know it."
She also questioned Thompson's decision to 'disparage' Fort Craig School of Dynamic Learning during HOPE (Hands-On, Progressive Education) Academy's appeal hearing in November 2011. Innovation Education Partnership Inc. was appealing Blount County Schools' decision to deny its charter school applications.
Palmer further questioned the director's decision to submit further comments to the State Board of Education on Maryville City Schools' letterhead. 'If the school was below par, why was it never brought up in a public meeting?'
She also voiced concerns about Maryville High School's football stadium improvements.
Maryville City Schools has allocated nearly $500,000 to improve stadium drainage, install synthetic turf on the field and add a video display to the scoreboard. Maryville High School will fully repay the capital improvements funds.
'We have a continued pattern of a lack of transparency,' Palmer said.
'public input lacking'
Pezick questioned the board's evaluation, specifically the lack of public input.
'If your desire is to be customer-driven like you've said (in recent strategic planning documents), I think you'd want a section for public input,' she said. 'You have sections in these standards for relationships outside of the school board. However, you have no mechanisms for public input. If continuous improvement is a board value, you have a responsibility to do it.'
Jenkins, who is running this year for re-election, later addressed the public comments.
'Stephanie, I want to thank you for what you've done,' he said. 'We're very fortunate to have you. Instead of complaining about fund balance, we should be thanking you. After being on this board, I also can't imagine anyone being more transparent than us.'
Section: Local News
Record Number: 13F66AC545533090Copyright 2012 Blount County Publishers LLC