The Henry County Board of Education passed 13 new policies for the system at its regular meeting Thursday, including a “Drug-Free Workplace” item, which explicitly prohibits system employees from unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of any alcohol or controlled substance as defined in federal law on or in the workplace.
Another item, involving personal school property disposal/sale procedure, allows the board to authorize the disposal or sale of any surplus property including equipment, books, materials and other personal property.
Other policies include one on making appropriate services available to students from military families, as well as allowing a day of excused absence prior to a parent’s deployment and an excused absence upon their return from deployment; an updated bus safety and conduct policy allowing principals to review parent and guardian requests to review bus camera footage; an update to the attendance policy to more clearly define excused absences; a policy regarding how to address student discrimination, harassment, cyberbullying and intimidation; updates to the testing programs policy; a policy on attendance regarding visits to postsecondary institutions; a policy on preventing student suicide; a policy giving students access to work-based learning experiences; a policy on credit recovery; a policy addressing the need for parent and family engagement; and a policy on giving homeless students the same access to education as other students.
All policies passed unanimously.
Two other policies were given a first reading and will be voted on next month.
One would allow nurses to administer glucagon and diazepam gel to students who may need it. Another would update policies on graduation requirements to accommodate students who wish to graduate through programs other than the traditional Henry County High School credit system.
In other meeting business:
• The Sonny Melton Living the Dream Foundation presented the school board with a check for $30,077 to be used to further ensure student safety.
Heather Melton said she knew she wanted to honor her late husband through protecting local children after the Parkland shooting in Florida.
She said the money will be used to first install new locking mechanisms on doors at Lakewood School, and she hopes to do the same for every school in Henry and Benton counties.
• The GEM of the Year award, which honors outstanding custodians, was presented to Annette Frampton, a custodian at Harrelson School.
Daryl House of Grove School, Sherry Hilliard of Henry County High School and Maria Gonzalez of Henry School were presented with GEM of the Quarter awards.
These awards were presented as a part of Custodian Appreciation Month.
• Maintenance Supervisor John Akers gave an update on current facilities projects.
Akers said the spring sports building is now being used. He said the fieldhouse would be ready to use soon and the band building and front entrance would be done by Christmas.
He said the entrance itself needs finishings including doors and metal trim, and the offices need flooring and workplace countertops, among other things.
Director of School Leah Watkins said the facilities committee would likely need another meeting to look at renderings for signage on the football field.
• A proposal from Watkins to amend the budget in order to accommodate a new grant passed unanimously.
• Grove Principal Tim Mason presented information about Grove’s newer programs.
The AVID program, which is dedicated to closing the achievement gap in education, got a second elective course added to the Grove schedule this year.
AVID teaches students good study habits and encourages focused note-taking, which outlines how to take and study effective notes in class.
Alex Cox and Karen Dukes, teachers who work in this program, spoke about their aim to focus on college and career readiness.
Cox said the AVID students have taken a college trip to UT Martin already this year, and plan to take another to Bethel University later this month.
Grove also hired a new teacher in the STEM program, Ben Burkhart, who teaches computer science foundations. Students Alex Elliot, Barrett Watkins and Emma Jane Murphey demonstrated moving robots they had built in class.