School Board Travel on meeting agenda





Chairman Proposes Travel for financially strapped School System!


By: Pat Hunter

October 15, 2008


Last week, school administrators and school personnel had a week off for fall break. Unfortunately, the school board agenda and budget amendments did not go out in time to the school board and/or public. How can the School Board make good informed decisions without prior discussion, information to read or understanding of the subject matter?


Today, I traveled to the school board office to view the October 16th Loudon County School Board agenda however, “Budget Amendments” and “Auditorium reconciliation” were not available for viewing. These items were not previously discussed at the workshop meeting. How many School Board members will fully understand these issues before they are asked to vote on these matters?


These are tough economic times and Loudon County is not exempt. People are loosing their homes in foreclosures. Just look at the long list of public notices in the back of the local newspaper of properties that will be sold on the courthouse steps. Homeowners and builders can’t sell their homes. Grocery prices and utility costs are spiraling. We haven’t seen the worse by far, economic advisors are saying. Loudon County schools are financially strapped so how can Chairman Leroy Tate even suggest voting to restore travel expenses for board members?


During the past round of budget meetings with the old School Board, the School Board voted to do away with Board pay and travel.  The School Board then turned around and restored their board member pay.  Each school board member receives $3,600 in pay, which is paid on a $300 per month basis.


But now, new School Board Chairman Leroy Tate, part of the old guard, wants to restore travel so School Board members and others may attend an upcoming conference at an upscale luxury resort hotel, on the taxpayer’s dime. Perhaps Mr. Tate can share with everyone, how many times he has dined on lobster and steak, at taxpayer expense?     


This year’s Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) meeting will be held November 16-18th at the luxury resort hotel, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Opryland amenities include nine acres of indoor gardens, cascading waterfalls, fine dining restaurants, a resort spa, pool, and fitness center and much more. The room rate alone is $159 daily for a traditional room. Then multiply this cost by ten school board members and others in the education department and now this adds up to a tidy little sum of taxpayer monies.


School Board members are required by state law to attend an annual 7- hour session of training and new school board members must attend a two-day orientation course plus one core module. If travel is to be approved by the School Board, public funds should be allocated strictly for mandatory sessions, for travel, lodging and food, if necessary.


But, the Opryland Hotel and/or mountain retreats in Gatlinburg do not constitute mandatory sessions for School Board members!


Where will the School Board find money for travel? Will the School Board magically find another small pot of money somewhere else in the budget during this financial crunch? 


Perhaps, School Board member Bill Marcus, an advocate of seminars, can help explain to the rest of us taxpayers, the merits of the "Tailgate Party", which is scheduled for Nov. 16th, TSBA conference. See below.


This matter will be discussed and voted at the October 16th School Board meeting.


The TSBA 2008 CONVENTION SCHEDULE was obtained on-line at






11:00 a.m. Leadership Conference registration

1:00-4:45 p.m. Leadership Conference


7:00-8:00 a.m. 5K Walk/Run sponsored by Pickler Wealth Advisors

7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. Convention Registration

7:30-8:30 a.m. Leadership Conference Breakfast

8:30-11:15 a.m. Leadership Conference

11:15 a.m.-1:00 p.m. TLN Board of Director’s Meeting/Luncheon

1:00 p.m. Tailgate Party in the Exhibit Hall

1:00-5:00 p.m. Exhibit Hall Open

1:30-4:00 p.m. Community Relations Workshop

1:30-5:00 p.m. Legal Workshop

12:00-3:00 p.m. TSBA Board of Director’s Meeting

3:00-4:45 p.m. Past President’s Reception

5:15-6:45 p.m. Opening Session

Speaker: Ian Jukes

Entertainment: Bedford County


7:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Convention Registration

8:00-9:00 a.m. Clinic Session A

9:00-10:30 a.m. TCSBA Meeting

9:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Exhibits

9:30-11:30 a.m. Special Interest Sessions (2)

1. Our Children are Not the Students Our Schools Were Designed For: Understanding

Digital Kids (adjourns at 11:30 a.m.)

Today's world is not the world we grew up in; and today's world is certainly not the world our

children will live in. Because of the dramatic changes our world has undergone, today's digital

kids are not the students our schools were designed for; and our students are not the students

today's teachers were trained to teach. This session examines the effect digital bombardment

from constant exposure to digital media has on digital kids in the new digital landscape and

considers the profound implications this holds for the future of education. What does the latest

neuroscientific and psychological research tell us about the role of intense and frequent

experiences on the brain, particularly the young and impressionable brain? Based on the

research, what inferences can we make about kids' digital experiences and how these

experiences are rewiring and reshaping their cognitive processes? More importantly, what are

the implications for teaching, learning and assessment in the new digital landscape?

Participants should prepare to have their assumptions about children and how they learn

seriously challenged.

2. A report from the Hill – A preview of the 2009 Legislative Session (adjourns at 11:00 a.m.)

Join members of the Tennessee General Assembly for a discussion of legislative issues affecting

public schools and other key stakeholders. Legislators will provide insight into the 106th General

Assembly and answer your questions about the legislative process, current law, proposed

legislation and other important topics.

11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. TOSS Board Meeting/Luncheon

1:00-2:00 p.m. Clinic Session B

2:30-4:30 p.m. Delegate Assembly

2:30-4:30 p.m. Special Interest Session (1)

1. Into Tomorrow: Looking at the Extreme Future

It is said that those who live by the crystal ball shall eat crushed glass. Invariably when futurists

make predictions we can be certain of two things. First, in many cases it will longer than we

predict for some things to happen. But conversely, when they happen the impact will be far

more pervasive than any of us can imagine. This presentation is about the extreme future 10,

15, 20 or more years out. This is not a crystal ball, Ouija board future, but an educated and

informed look ahead at the good, the bad, the ugly, the scary, the beautiful, the terrifying and

the sublime. Participants will be given an overview of the Extreme Future: the new Energy Age,

the new Innovation Economy, the future of globalization, Moore's Law revisited, the new Age of

Communication, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Neurotechnology, the new workforce,

longevity medicine, tomorrow's climate, weird science and the future of the individual ‐ and

then be asked what the Extreme Future holds for the way we work, the way we play, the way we

communicate, the way we learn and the way we view our fellow citizens. This presentation is

not for the faint of heart. Come and get your assumptions about almost everything challenged.

2:30-5:00 p.m. Board Secretaries Meeting (TABS)

6:15-8:45 p.m. Awards Banquet

Speaker: Dale Henry


7:30-11:00 a.m. Registration Desk Open

7:30-8:00 a.m. Board of Director’s Meeting

8:00-10:15 a.m. Closing General Session/Breakfast

Speaker: Salome Thomas-El

Entertainment: Sevier County

10:15 a.m. Adjourn