Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008, had been set as our D-Day, the day of decision.
Months of planning had led up to the day. Countless hours of discussion had occupied the lives of many people. Financial costs had been weighed. Consultation with others who had already made the decision was processed. More than one sleepless night had followed the days of debate. The final decision would have major implications for thousands, for years to come. A lot of people give advice; a few make decisions.
In the board meeting, the question was called for to cast a vote. The final tally was nine yes, and zero no.
A new elementary school will be built in Shelbyville at a cost of $11 million. The first new elementary school constructed in the city in over 40 years will be called Learning Way Elementary.
The Student Dress Code was not the most important item on our agenda at our February School Board meeting.
As a publicly elected school board, we are committed to education in Bedford County. That includes building new facilities, building an administration, faculty and staff. It also includes building an atmosphere for learning to take place in.
The classroom is the front line of education. This is where the teacher and the student interact. The Student Dress Code will help set a better and calmer atmosphere for education to take place in. Some say the statistics don't prove that assertion. Well, there are more than statistics in the decision-making process. You manage with statistics, but you lead with vision. As a school board, we are a part of the management process, but we also cast vision. Vision is where you go with your heart when the numbers may not lead the way.
Earlier that day I stopped by my old school in Nashville, Antioch High School, now Antioch Middle School. I introduced myself as a Bedford County school board member and spoke with the assistant principal.
"How is your student dress policy affecting the educational process here?"
Social tensions were down, and the classrooms were calmer, was his response. I even visited a seventh grade English class, taught by a former classmate of mine. The students had adjusted just fine to the policy, and learning was taking place.
The student dress policy is just that: a student policy, not an adult policy. There are different rights and responsibilities between children and adults. This also is part of the educational process.
In light of the growing influences coming into our county and local communities, this student dress policy is important. Through this policy, we can help define the values and traditions of Bedford County. We value every aspect of the educational process and strive for excellence on all fronts.
Each month we, as a school board, make decisions. Some decisions carry greater weight than others, but each one is important to the educational process. Each decision is a building block for the future of our children.
Your continual input is needed and valued. Each voice that speaks on an issue is important. The quiet voice on the street has as much validity as the vocal voice in a public forum.
As a result of our vote, we will break ground and keep building for the future.
Forsee, an Assembly of God pastor, is the Ninth District representative on Bedford County Board of Education.