Chairman Scott Newman (middle), Vice-Chairman Gary Ubben, Rick Best, Bobby Johnson Jr, and Van Shaver (R)

United We Stand -- Not Really  



Thursday's (Sept. 8th) Loudon County Board of Education school board meeting was not without some controversy when it came to the election of board officers, chairman and vice-chairman, and director Jason Vance's recommendation to move $13,000 for school board travel and retreat. A parent of students attending Eaton Elem and North Middle School spoke against using $13,000 for board travel, and another concerned citizen followed by agreeing with the concerned parent's view point.

Vice chairman Gary Ubben's (retired UT Professor) was hoping to be the next board chairman but his chances were dashed when the board voted to retain Scott Newman as chairman.

Next on the agenda was the election of board chair, at which time, Chairman Scott Newman stepped down temporarily as director Jason Vance chaired the meeting.

Known for dominating discussions, board member Van Shaver began by leading the the discussion when director Jason Vance quickly responded excuse me Mr. Shaver. Vance then opened the floor for nominations for school board chairman.

Mr. Vance, as last year, I would be very comfortable, Scotty has done a really good job and I would be glad to make the motion to retain Scott Newman as Chairman for the FY 11-12 school year, with a second from board member Craig Simon. Vance asked for discussion by the board.

Board member Rick Best spoke. Scott Newman had been "exemplary" guiding the board through "sensitive issues" and whenever Best needed assistance Newman was "professional and courteous". But Best said that that the board had decided on a new change in direction with a change in focus and energy and "vision" when the school board decided to hire Jason Vance prior to the expiration of former director Wayne Honeycutt's employment contract. Rick Best named several new programs and requirements and he said "reform means change" and we all have to be "change agent". With Jason's leadership team shows what we can do, with the "adjustments in principals" and central office staff, he added. Best also spoke about changes in the schools. Best mentioned that the school board may consider some new leadership as they did with new director Jason Vance. Renewable and change are key to the development of leadership. After he spoke, he did not nominate Gary Ubben.  

Board member Leroy Tate said that he did not have anything against "Scotty" and there was nothing in writing but he spoke about a "gentleman's agreement" to elevate the vice-chairman (Gary Ubben) to chairman, once the chairman's term had expired. We had a system to get the "politics out of it" commented Tate. This procedure had been followed for a number of years until recently. Does this board have a different approach and he asked for clarification.

Van Shaver spoke up, my position if it works well and if it ain't broke why fix it?

Board member Craig Simon spoke about the board's progress and united front under Scotty Newman's leadership. We're on the right track and Scotty is doing a fine job, and Simon didn't want to see that change.

Any more nominations asked director Vance? There was no other nominations for chairman and Vance requested roll call. Once the votes were tallied Scott Newman received six yes votes, which came from Van Shaver, Bobby Johnson, Jr., Lisa Russell, Craig Simon, William Jenkins, and Scott Newman.

The three no votes came from Rick Best, Gary Ubben, and Leroy Tate. Noticeably absent was board member Bill Marcus and no explanation was offered.

Delegates were named to attend the TSBA conference and a representative to TLN.

In past years, Chairman Newman insisted on naming committees but not under new director Vance. Surprisingly, with two new schools buildings and a renovation project on the drawing board and ongoing maintenance issues, Newman did not recommend appointing a school building/maintenance committee.   

As a side note, at the last election, Scott Newman campaigned for Bill Marcus when Marcus ran against former PTO president Wendy Baustian. Marcus narrowly won re-election. Presently, there is a little bit of a rub between the two after Bill Marcus publicly accused Newman of having a potential conflict of interest for asking the school board to pay more money for the SRO program for schools located in Loudon City while Newman is employed by Loudon City as a police officer.