School board considers transportation budget amendment, e-cigarette ban

The Oak Ridge Board of Education tonight will consider a budget amendment approving the use of $500,000 from the school system’s fund balance to restore bus transportation to students affected by an expanded “parent responsibility zone” approved in June.

The board will also consider updating a policy banning tobacco use to also prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in school district buildings, public seating areas and restrooms, and in district vehicles, classes, and activities.

The board is also expected to review end-of-year Head Start data from the Brigance Diagnostic Assessment that tracked school readiness across six key areas of growth during the 2013-2014 school year. The data indicates increased school readiness for the children based on three different assessment periods throughout the year.

For more information, see the board agenda here.


Mahathy running for Oak Ridge school board

Mike Mahathy Campaign Photo

Mike Mahathy, left, a candidate for Oak Ridge Board of Education, is pictured with his family. (Submitted photo)

Mike Mahathy, who has served on two school-related councils, is running for Oak Ridge Board of Education.

It wasn’t an easy decision, Mahathy said in a press release.

“I labored over it for weeks, as I am not a politician,” said Mahathy, a health physicist at ORAU. “I’m just a citizen, a husband, a father, yet that is why I decided to run, for my children and more importantly for yours.

“When I leave this life, I hope that it can be said that Mike Mahathy made a difference for children, at least in a little way.”

The press release said Mahathy co-founded a charity that provides assistance to orphans of the Yunnan Province, China. And he now serves as volunteer Caring Kids Coordinator for another adoption, helping with daily life needs, education, and transitioning to adult life. Mahathy also assists in a children’s ministry at his church.

Mahathy said he served as an officer on the Oak Ridge Preschool advisory council in 2005 and 2006, and he has served on the Oak Ridge Schools superintendent’s PTA/PTO council since 2005. In addition, he helps, as his time allows, the parent-teacher organizations at his daughters’ schools. [Read more...]

Paine running for Oak Ridge school board

Laurie Paine

Laurie Paine

Laurie Paine, who led the recent protests to restore bus transportation to students, has announced she is running for the Oak Ridge Board of Education.

Paine said she is running because she wants children to be the top priority in the community.

“I am the proud mother of three children currently in the Oak Ridge school system: Kaitlan, Tyler, and Tristan,” Paine said in a press release. “My daughter Alexis recently graduated from Oak Ridge High School and is now attending the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.”

Paine said she has lived in Oak Ridge for 26 years and has witnessed many changes, “some good and some bad. It’s time for change again and that change needs to start at the top with the leadership on the Board of Education.”

In her campaign and as an elected representative, Paine said she will continue pursuing the following: [Read more...]

Eby seeks re-election to school board

Bob Eby

Bob Eby

Bob Eby has qualified to run for re-election in November for the Oak Ridge Board of Education.

Eby, who is now the board’s vice chairman, is seeking his fourth term, having first been elected in 1985, again in 1991, and most recently in 2009. This is the first time Eby has run as an incumbent.

Eby was board chairman for two terms between 1991-1995, a press release said. Eby is a product of the Oak Ridge Schools (class of 1970), as is his wife of 40 years, Jean (class of 1971), his daughter Elizabeth (1998), and son William (2001).

Jean Eby is a retired teacher from the Oak Ridge Schools, having taught band, music, and third and fourth grade in the district for more than 30 years, the press release said. Most of her teaching career was at Linden Elementary School.

Bob Eby is the director for technology and process engineering for USEC Inc., and he also serves as Oak Ridge site manager for the company. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee and completed The Executive Program from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. He is active in the business community, currently serving on the board of directors for the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, the East Tennessee Economic Council, and the KFI, an organization dedicated for the benefit of the Ronald McDonald House in Knoxville. [Read more...]

BOE considers amended resolution related to high school debt, sales taxes

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

The agenda includes the amended final reading of the joint final resolution between the Oak Ridge City Council and the Oak Ridge Schools’ Board of Education. The amended joint resolution is related to the retirement of the debt for the Oak Ridge High School and future initiatives involving Oak Ridge and Anderson County local option sales taxes.

See the agenda here.

Some parents have organized a rally before the School Board meeting to try to get education officials to eliminate the expanded walk zone implemented this school year as part of an effort to cut a budget deficit. That rally is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. at the SAB.

Roane County executive, sheriff re-elected

Ron Woody

Ron Woody

Roane County Executive Ron Woody was elected to a second four-year term on Thursday, and Sheriff Jack Stockton won a third term.

Woody beat former county mayor Mike Farmer, who previously lost to Woody after one term, by a 60 to 40 percent margin. The unofficial vote tally, with all 24 precincts reporting, was 3,388 votes for Woody to 2,237 for Farmer.

Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton coasted to re-election, beating Rockwood Police Department Patrolman Jared Hall by a 78 to 22 percent margin. The vote tally was 4,504 to 1,284, according to the unofficial election results. [Read more...]

Frank, White re-elected; incumbents fare well, but some upsets

Steve Mead at Early Voting

Anderson County Commissioner Steve Mead, one of the incumbents re-elected Thursday, campaigns during early voting at the Midtown Community Center in Oak Ridge. (Photo by Fred O’Hara Jr.)


Terry Frank

Terry Frank

Note: This story was last updated at 2:10 p.m. July 8.

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank was elected to her first four-year term on Thursday, and Sheriff Paul White was elected to a third term.

The election featured several close races, including for sheriff and register of deeds, and there were a few upsets, including for Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk, County Commission District 3, and General Sessions Judge, Division II, where longtime Judge Ron Murch suffered defeat.

Paul White

Paul White

In the race for the Tennessee House, Representative John Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican, beat back a primary challenge by newcomer Caitlin Nolan.

All 27 precincts have reported.

Here are the final unofficial election results for contested races:

Anderson County Mayor

  • Terry Frank, the Republican incumbent—7,586 (52.69 percent)
  • Jim Hackworth, a Democrat—6,193 (43.01 percent)
  • Bradley Rickett, an Independent—619 (4.3 percent)

Frank, who was first elected to a two-year term in a special election in August 2012, beat Hackworth, a former state representative and county commissioner, by about 1,400 votes. The two fought over a 1990 tax hike and “turmoil” and lawsuits in the Anderson County Courthouse.

Anderson County Sheriff

  • Paul White, the Democratic incumbent—7,386 (51.64 percent)
  • Anthony Lay, a Republican—6,918 (48.36 percent)

White’s margin of victory was just under 500 votes. Lay is a former sheriff in Scott County, and he is currently a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper. The two candidates battled over the food served at the Anderson County jail, crime rate statistics, and the responsiveness of the Sheriff’s Department, among other things. [Read more...]

Anderson County Election Commission website down

Anderson County Courthouse

The Anderson County Courthouse on Main Street in Clinton is pictured above.

The Anderson County Election Commission website, which will be posting election results, is currently down. At about 9 p.m. Thursday, the Election Commission said they are working to repair it as quickly as possible.

We are also monitoring election results in Roane County and will post results as soon as they are available.

See the Anderson County Election Commission results here.

See the Roane County results here.

The elections include Anderson County mayor and Roane County executive and sheriffs in both counties, as well as judicial races, circuit court clerks, county commission, and school board.

Guest column: Oak Ridge…a story of excellence

Bruce Borchers

Bruce Borchers

Let me first state how thankful I am to be part of the Oak Ridge community. I have not worked in, nor do I know of, a community and school district that has a stronger board of education or staff that is focused on students. There are many reasons and indicators of this, but one does not have to look too far to understand that the academic achievement in Oak Ridge has remained steady and/or improved despite a 30 percent increase in the number of students in poverty (over 50 percent of our students now come from a home of poverty) over the last decade. This is a true testament to the dedication of our board, staff, parents, and students.

I have enjoyed my transition both to Oak Ridge and Tennessee as superintendent and look forward to my second year in this role. I have become active in the community and am happy to be a member of Noon Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce Board, and the Methodist Medical Center Board. I look forward to participating in additional activities and offerings that this great community is so fortunate to have. My wife and I have also enjoyed a wonderful personal transition to Oak Ridge. My son will be a freshmen at Oak Ridge High School next year, and my daughter will be a part of the Pride of the Southland Marching Band this fall at the University of Tennessee. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be the Oak Ridge superintendent as well as being a father of a current Oak Ridge student.

This is too great of a community and district to let negativity infiltrate the very essence of Oak Ridge. The creation of this amazing community and the Oak Ridge Schools is too great of a story for our country (the world really) to move in such a negative direction. Therefore, I pledge to do my part to keep the conversation civil, accurate, and most of all focused on the 4,440 students that walk through our doors every day who depend on the adults to make decisions based on the needs of children and not the comfort level of adults. [Read more...]

Guest column: Not seeking re-election, DiGregorio offers advice to potential candidates

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have been on the Oak Ridge Board of Education since June 2005. My second term on this board is coming to a close in November, after what will be nine years and five months. But who’s counting?

I have decided not to seek re-election. On a personal level, I’m committed to term limits and shared responsibility. I should have been through in June of 2013, but a City Charter revision, through some smoke and mirrors, fixed things so that terms that should have expired in June of 2013 were extended to November 2014, an additional 17 months. Three current board members are in that situation.

Recently, I have been asked about “school boarding”—what the process is for running for a seat on the School Board, where do you register, how many signatures are required to be placed on the ballot, what a campaign would entail, and what time commitment it takes to serve on the School Board if elected. I am glad to provide this information and my opinions. I applaud anyone who wants to serve on a Board of Education. Public education is very important to me, this city, this state, and the nation.

There are three basic tasks for a BOE: policy, planning, and promotion. But the job is far more involved than that. Board members will not hire or fire any staff. Nor will they micromanage the work of any staff, including the superintendent. Collectively, the BOE has one employee—the superintendent.  The board hires him/her, and he/she does everything else. You do not work for the superintendent or the board, but working with those two, even if you disagree, will make things easier. Otherwise, the board may become dysfunctional. No community deserves a dysfunctional board of any kind. A 5-0 vote has the same effect as a 4-1 or 3-2 vote. The board speaks with one voice.

So: [Read more...]

Guest column: Adapting to change

I can’t function without my…(fill in the blank)!

Cell phone? I survived into my early 30s without one, and never even realized it was a problem. I admit that now, having carried one for a number of years, it’s terribly disconcerting to be without. My parents can easily recall a time when most families had only one car—a concept that is unthinkable to most of us today. But faced with challenges, we adapt. We can, we must, and we will.

Families living in most communities outside Oak Ridge are accustomed to not having school bus service within a mile or mile-and-a-half of the school, so our current turmoil seems like no big deal to them. To us though, having to suddenly live without something we’ve always had (except for a brief period several years ago) feels like the end of life as we know it.

With the advent of social media, the volume of discontent and velocity of misinformation has grown exponentially. It is most unfortunate that a member of City Council chose to announce in Monday’s meeting that the School Board intended to cut transportation no matter how much money the city provided; that is incorrect, as evidenced by the fact that there was no reduction in transportation services in our budget passed on May 27 (first reading) and May 29 (second reading). [Read more...]

School walk zones changed to actual walking distance, rather than ‘as crow flies’

Bruce Borchers

Bruce Borchers

Parents of Oak Ridge students have been expressing concerns that the new 1.5-mile walk zones approved in June were based on a 1.5-mile air radius (“as the crow flies”) rather than actual walking distances.

On Wednesday, Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers announced that school officials were changing the calculation of the walk zone to actual walking distance for 1.5 miles “as the crow flies. The change is expected to cost $200,000.

Here’s the statement from Borchers: [Read more...]