The regular monthly meeting of the Bedford County Board of Education on Tuesday marked the first formal meeting to include interim superintendent Mike Bone.
As part of an annual rotation among county schools, the meeting was held in the library of Harris Middle School.
The board named a finance committee, designated to work closely with Robert Daniel, Director of Finance; Bone; and former superintendent Ed Gray to develop a comprehensive budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Gray is also assisting with interim superintendent duties.
"In the past we had committees that worked in different areas like policy, finance and budget, and we just got away from doing that," said board chair Amy Martin in suggesting the change.
Named to this committee were Ron Adcock, John Boutwell, Chad Graham and Martin.
The board approved creation of a Response to Intervention Coordinator. Each school system is required to have an RTI plan, and this coordinator will be tasked with creating it on behalf of the system.
"It's a very comprehensive plan, it does require a lot of data to be collected," said Dr. Julie Bennett, who detailed the needs to the board.
In education, response to intervention is a method of academic intervention used to provide early, systematic assistance to children who are having difficulty learning.
According to web source Wikipedia, "RTI seeks to prevent academic failure through early intervention, frequent progress measurement, and increasingly intensive research-based instructional interventions for children who continue to have difficulty. It is believed that students who do not show a response to effective interventions are likely (or, more likely than students who respond) to have biologically based learning disabilities and to be in need of special education."
The board also approved the hire of an interpreter for American Sign Language, as requested by the Special Education department.
"This is a position that would come out of special education and out of their budget," Bone said. "This is a situation where when you have a student that needs to have sign language, the special education budget has funds for this."
"[We] don't have an option but to provide it," agreed Martin.
Two bus driver positions were approved, based on growing transportation needs in the county.
According to Jimmy Williams, transportation supervisor, his department picks up an average of 4,182 students each day, and has seen highest growth in the Unionville area, where Community schools are based.
"Last year we picked up 744 students in the Community area. This year we are up to 810," Williams said.
Three buses in that area are overcrowded, and an additional route is required to alleviate the issue.
"We've had the same number of routes for the last several years," Williams said.
Bone had approved the hire of a driver on a temporary basis at the end of October, pending board approval.
When asked, Williams explained that a second driver would be beneficial. Another area of growth is near East Side, "Not necessarily to the school itself, but those students that we are taking to [Shelbyville Central High School and Harris Middle School].
"I have just about every bus running two routes in the morning. They pick up the younger kids first and then the older kids," said Williams.
"This will require a budget amendment and Robert [Daniel] and I have discussed that. Their positions and need is a high priority," said Bone, pointing out the value of student safety.