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...]

Boys and Girls Club president running for School Board

Aaron Wells

Aaron Wells

Aaron Wells, a lifelong Oak Ridger and president of the Boys and Girls Club of Oak Ridge, is running for Oak Ridge Board of Education in the November 4 municipal election, a press release said.

“Over the last two decades, I have spent countless hours coaching, mentoring, and fundraising for the youth in our town,” Wells said in the release. “After much prayer and discussion, my wife Melissa and I made the decision that I would run for school board.”

If elected, Wells said he will focus on achieving four priorities.

“First and foremost, I commit to truly listen to our teachers and integrate their feedback into all of my decisions,” Wells said. “Teachers are the lifeblood of our schools, and they know better than anyone how to make our students successful. We can no longer afford to ignore their invaluable feedback and concerns. The Board of Education must fight to restore to them the freedom they need to do what they do best—inspire and educate our children.” [Read more...]

Eby, school board vice chair, receives TSBA award

Bob Eby TSBA Award

Bob Eby, vice chair of the Oak Ridge Board of Education, receives the TSBA Level IV Boardmanship Award during a recent district meeting in Newport, Tennessee. (Submitted photo)

Bob Eby, vice chair of the Oak Ridge Board of Education, was honored with a Boardmanship Award at a recent Tennessee School Boards Association meeting.

Eby received the Level IV Boardsmanship Award, which was presented by TSBA Executive Director Tammy Grissom during the Fall District meeting in Newport, Tennessee, a press release said.

To achieve the award, Bob accumulated more than 200 credits in various school board activities, including attending TSBA leadership conferences, policy workshops, summer law institutes, state and national conventions, and a TSBA “day on the Hill” in Nashville, and he met with state legislators, the release said. Eby also presented Oak Ridge school board activities at various conferences as well as to local civic groups.

The release said Eby has served as a judge for state school architectural competitions and as an evaluator of other school boards seeking to be recognized as Boards of Distinction as the Oak Ridge School Board is. Level IV also requires a self-evaluation of board activities completed by the candidate for the award.

Candidate forum for Oak Ridge City Council

There will be two candidate forums this month for candidates for Oak Ridge City Council and Oak Ridge Board of Education, and for Tennessee House and Senate and the U.S. House.

The forums are scheduled for September 17 and September 25. Both are in the Oak Ridge High School Amphitheater and are free and open to the public.

They’re sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge and are in preparation of the November 4 state, federal, and local general election.

The first forum, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 17, will first feature candidates for House District 32 and House District 33, Tennessee 5th Senatorial District, and Tennessee 3rd Congressional District. Then, the double forum will feature candidates running for the Oak Ridge Board of Education. [Read more...]

School board to consider capital improvements program

The Oak Ridge Board of Education will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, September 22, in the School Administration Building at 304 New York Avenue.

The school board will consider approving, on second and final reading, the use of $500,000 from the school system’s fund balance for the school bus service restored after a June change.

The board will also consider approving the proposed Capital Improvements Program for Fiscal Year 2016 to FY 2022.

See the agenda here.

Former president of PTO, Superintendent’s Council running for school board

Laura McLean

Laura McLean

Laura McLean, an Oak Ridger for the last 19 years, is running for the Oak Ridge Board of Education in the November 4 municipal election.

McLean and her husband Fred moved here for his work as a radiologist. Even after his work moved to Knoxville, the family chose to remain in Oak Ridge to educate their kids and be involved in the Oak Ridge community, a press release said. Both of the their children attended Oak Ridge schools their entire careers, including Oak Ridge Schools Preschool, Glenwood Elementary, Jefferson Middle, and Oak Ridge High School. Alex (ORHS Class of 2010) currently lives and works in Oak Ridge, and Emily (ORHS Class of 2012) is in her third year at the University of Virginia.

McLean has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

The press release said she was an active member in school organizations during her children’s education in Oak Ridge. McLean was on the Parent Committee in the Preschool, and served in several roles while her kids attended Glenwood, including PTO president, PTO vice president, Fundraising Committee member, and classroom volunteer. At Jefferson Middle, Laura served as PTO president and vice president and fundraising coordinator. At ORHS, Laura was on several parent committees and served as vice president of the PTSO. She continues to support and volunteer at Graduation Celebration. [Read more...]

School board to discuss budget, preschool, public relations during Sept. 18 retreat

The Oak Ridge Board of Education will discuss the budget, Preschool, board and superintendent evaluations, and a public relations person and social media during a September 18 retreat.

The retreat starts at 12 p.m. Thursday, September 18, in the Robert J. Smallridge School Administration Building on New York Avenue.

Other agenda items include draft protocols and practices for the board and superintendent, and an executive session to discuss legal issues.

See the retreat agenda here.

Candidate forum for Oak Ridge school board, state, federal offices

There will be two candidate forums this month for candidates for Oak Ridge City Council and Oak Ridge Board of Education, and for Tennessee House and Senate and the U.S. House.

The forums are scheduled for September 17 and September 25. Both are in the Oak Ridge High School Amphitheater and are free and open to the public.

They’re sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge and are in preparation of the November 4 state, federal, and local general election.

The first forum, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 17, will first feature candidates for House District 32 and House District 33, Tennessee 5th Senatorial District, and Tennessee 3rd Congressional District. Then, the double forum will feature candidates running for the Oak Ridge Board of Education. [Read more...]

Retired teacher, community volunteer running for school board

Jean Hiser

Jean Hiser

Retired educator and community volunteer Jean Hiser has announced her candidacy for the Oak Ridge Board of Education in the November 4 municipal election, a press release said.

Hiser moved to Oak Ridge five years ago from Cumberland County, where she taught third grade at Crab Orchard Elementary School for 11 years.

Prior to moving to Tennessee, she had served as a substitute special education teacher in the Wheaton school system in Wheaton, Illinois.

A native of Elderon, a small farming community in Wisconsin, Hiser dreamed of going to college in order to make a better life for herself. She attended college for 3.5 years but was forced to leave school due to lack of funds.

After getting married and raising a son, Hiser returned to college and obtained a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at the age of 45 from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enrolled in college on the same day her son enrolled in community college. [Read more...]