School board to consider balanced calendar, budget timeline

The Oak Ridge Board of Education will consider a balanced calendar for the 2016-2017 school year during a regular meeting tonight. The school board will also consider an updated budget timeline for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The Board of Education could consider salary proposals from the Oak Ridge Education Association and principals during the meeting tonight (Monday, March 30). It starts at 6 p.m. at the Robert J. Smallridge School Administration Building at 304 New York Avenue.

The school board approved a balanced calendar for the 2015-2016 school year in a meeting in April 2014. This fall will be the first time that Oak Ridge has had a balanced calendar. [Read more…]

School Board to discuss Preschool, budget during Thursday retreat

Oak Ridge Schools Logo

The Oak Ridge Board of Education will hear an update on the Preschool and discuss budget scenarios and priorities during a Thursday retreat.

The retreat starts at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, February 12, in the Robert J. Smallridge School Administration Building at 304 New York Avenue. The board will have lunch at 11:30, with the meeting being called to order at noon.

See the agenda here.

BOE: Fix lead paint now, prepare for new Preschool by 2016-2017

Oak Ridge Board of Education and City Council

The Oak Ridge Board of Education, seated at right, and City Council, left, are pictured above during a Jan. 15 work session on the Oak Ridge Schools’ Preschool, among other agenda items.

 

Finding a new preschool might not happen as quickly as some would like, but the city’s school board on Monday recommended a few first steps that could have children in a new building by the 2016-2017 school year.

The main concern now: Fix the lead-based paint on the decades-old home of the Preschool on New York Avenue. That repair could cost an estimated $150,000. A remediation plan could be submitted to federal officials and Anderson County education officials by March 4.

There had been some hope that a new home for preschool students might be found as early as this August. [Read more…]

Letter: Supports schools’ proposal for Preschool, Administration building

To the Editor:

Kudos to Dr. Bruce Borchers and the school staff for the creative and practical fresh look and proposal for resolving the dilemma of our 71-year-old pre-K and Administration building. I believe this solution is fiscally far more attractive and feasible than any alternatives that were suggested in the past. At this point, I am soundly behind it.

Kudos too, to Parker Hardy and the Chamber for being willing to discuss the possibility of letting their building be part of the plan. [Read more…]

Fillauer named East director for state school board group

Keys Fillauer

Keys Fillauer

Oak Ridge Board of Education Chair Keys Fillauer has been named East director for the Tennessee School Board Association.

The TSBA announced its officers and directors for 2015 at the close of its recent annual convention in Nashville. [Read more…]

Letter: Asks City Council to appoint Gooch as mayor

To the Editor:

Let me begin by saying thank you to those members of both City Council and the School Board who elected to not run again, and to those who did run but were not successful in their efforts. I appreciate each of them stepping up to the plate to make this community a better place, and I hope they all continue to remain active in a positive manner to keep this community moving forward.

Also, with the most recent election behind us and several new faces taking on the leadership responsibilities for the city and school system, I look forward to each of the newly elected representatives bringing their vision to the table and working with the existing members to make Oak Ridge an outstanding community to live, work, and play.

During the November 24 City Council meeting, City Council members will be electing a new mayor for a two-year term. In our “weak mayor” form of local government, the mayor has no power outside of Council, so the mayoral role is solely to lead the City Council meetings and to be the main representative of the city for various meetings, activities, and events. [Read more…]

2014 Election: School board candidates talk taxes, budgets, bus routes, Preschool

Oak Ridge Board of Education Candidates 2014

Oak Ridge Board of Education candidates are, from right, Mike Mahathy, Laura McLean, Bob Eby, Andy Howe, Paige Marshall, and Jean Hiser. Not pictured are Laurie Paine and Aaron Wells.

 

Note: This story was last updated at 10:10 a.m. Nov. 3.

School board candidates at two forums this campaign season expressed optimism that school officials will be able to continue to provide school bus transportation to most students in the next school year, and several said they would support a property tax rate increase if it were deemed necessary.

Bob Eby, Oak Ridge Board of Education vice chair, cited delayed staff raises and textbook purchases as well as capital project needs. Eby helped lead moves this summer to restore bus transportation to preschool students and then other students after the area where bus service is not provided was temporarily expanded to 1.5 miles as part of cost-cutting measures in June.

In August, Karen Gagliano, Oak Ridge Schools director of business and support services, said the $500,000 in fund balance money used to restore transportation and the delayed purchase of textbooks, among other things, means the school system could start the Fiscal Year 2015 budget discussions with a $1.8 million deficit, before anything new is added.

“I will ask for a tax increase next year,” Eby said. “We’ve put (off) all we can put off.” [Read more…]

Letter: Congressional debate, candidate answers available online

To the Editor:

Oak Ridge voters in the Third Congressional District might like to know that they can view the Monday night, October 27, debate between Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Dr. Mary Headrick at https://www.facebook.com/EastTennesseePBS.

Voters might also like to see answers from City Council and School Board candidates to questions asked of them by DFET (Democracy for East Tennessee) following the Candidates’ Reception sponsored by the group on October 9 in Oak Ridge at www.dfet.org.

DFET Executive Committee:

Tom Burns, Leslie Agron, Joan Cassens, Virginia Jones

Oak Ridge

Repairs needed, school system considers three options for Preschool

Oak Ridge Preschool and School Administration Building

The Oak Ridge Board of Education will consider three options for the Oak Ridge Schools Preschool on New York Avenue during a Monday night meeting. The building—which has lead paint that needs to be repaired, replaced, and painted, among other things—has to be renovated or vacated for the Head Start program to receive funding in the 2015-2016 school year.

 

It’s 70 years old and in need of repairs. Federal officials want it renovated or vacated by next year in order for the school system to continue to receive Head Start funding.

So, on Monday, the Oak Ridge Board of Education will consider what to do about the Oak Ridge Preschool, a building on New York Avenue that’s been on the repair wish list for years.

The school board will consider three options:

  • stay in the building and renovate it;
  • move the Preschool and its roughly 200 students to a different site, possibly by leasing space;
  • move the Preschool classes and split them up among the elementary schools.

There is one option that is not on the table, school officials said Thursday.

“We have no intention…of shutting down the Preschool in any form or fashion,” said Chris Marczak, Oak Ridge Schools assistant superintendent. [Read more…]

Guest column: The road to excellence

Mike Mahathy

Mike Mahathy

By Mike Mahathy

“Thus we began. With a sense of adventure, with a determination to make the most of a situation, we started out…looking forward to giving the children of Oak Ridge the best system we could develop.”

So said Dr. A.H. Blankenship years after accepting the role of starting the Oak Ridge school system.

From the very beginnings in 1943, Oak Ridge leaders wanted the best for their children. They choose a road less traveled by in this area.

Decades have passed, but there has remained one constant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee: a great school system where students have excelled in academics, the arts, music, athletics, and have gone on to be productive Americans. [Read more…]

Guest column: Progress PAC helps broaden conversation of community issues

By Progress PAC

We are very proud that the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce has entrusted us to serve as the members of Progress PAC, the multi-candidate political action committee created by the Chamber and focused on our upcoming school board and city council elections. Though we are appointed by the Chamber’s Board of Directors, we operate independently from that same board.

Some people in the community have questions about how Progress PAC will operate, who we might support, and how endorsements might be made. Some have criticized the timing of Progress PAC’s establishment, and we acknowledge it could have been better. However, our primary goal is to have a positive impact in this election cycle.

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Now that Progress PAC has been created, we are largely autonomous. The Chamber’s Board may not approve or disapprove of any endorsement decisions we may make; the Chamber’s Board cannot approve or disapprove of contributions that Progress PAC either receives or distributes. The Chamber contributes no funds to PAC operations; we are supported by donations made directly to the PAC and we must report those to the appropriate election commissions. [Read more…]

Engineering design contractor running for City Council

Gary Love

Gary Love

Gary Love, an engineering design contractor, is running for Oak Ridge City Council in the November 4 municipal election.

“I am a proud native of Oak Ridge—and I am ready to roll up my sleeves to work with the people to make this community an even better place to live in the 21st century,” Love said in a press release.

Love said he grew up in the Woodland Community and graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 1974. After graduating from East Tennessee State University in 1979 with a degree in biology, he went to work for the city of Chattanooga.

Later, he extended his education with a two-year degree in computer engineering and joined the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, where he spent 18 years as a power design engineer, the press release said.

“I’m glad to be back in Oak Ridge, where I live with my wife, Toni,” Love said. “We have three grown children, including my son, who now works with me at Tennessee Valley Authority, where I work as a contractor in engineering design. We also have a teenage granddaughter.” [Read more…]