Public Trust & Confidence 



Old School Board Bill Marcus, Larry Proaps, Bobby Johnson, Jr., Leroy Tate, Scott Newman, Steve Harrelson


Did some on old School Board Speak with Forked Tongue?

By: Pat Hunter

October 22, 2008


The public must have trust and confidence in the people that they elect to public office. And when politicians say one thing and then do another thing, they are fair game for public scrutiny.


In June 2008 when facing financial budget woes, School Board members Bill Marcus, Larry Proaps, Scotty Newman, Bobby Johnson, Jr., Leroy Tate and Steve Harrelson, openly discussed and voted on budget cuts. Five out six voted to add travel back on Oct 16th, but Steve Harrelson did not. Did some on old School Board speak with forked tongue; you decide?


During marathon discussions of budget cuts, Board member Scotty Newman mentioned, Video Clip "Let's try to make these decisions as far away from the children as we can." and “Anything that doesn’t directly hurt kids should be cut.” It appears that Newman forgot to follow his own advice when he voted to take money for travel from the maintenance department, which is intended to fix the school buildings for the children. 


Back in June 2008, the School Board agreed and voted on cuts including $17,000 in discretionary travel for a Mountain Retreat in Gatlinburg, the TSBA Convention held at the Opryland Nashville Resort and a Day on the Hill and dues and memberships. Video Clip  TRAVEL CUTS $17,000 in Board travel was to come from the Office of the Superintendent budget said former School Director Edward Headlee. Since Director Honeycutt recommended that the School Board go to OpryLand, why didn't he suggest taking the money from his own budget instead of the maintenance budget? Video Clip: Edward Headlee, Bill Marcus, June Klinstiver and Bobby Johnson, Jr.. The old School Board agreed to cuts in travel.


But, on October 16, 2008, seven out of ten members voted to take $10,000 from the maintenance budget for the Opryland junket. Voting YES - Bill Marcus, Leroy Tate, Larry Proaps, Scotty Newman, Bobby Johnson, Jr., and new School Boards member Gary Ubben and Craig Simon.


But not everyone went along. Voting NO were Steve Harrelson and new school Board members Lisa Russell and Van Shaver. Video Clip Click to hear Lisa Russell discuss why she would not vote for the travel expense. Also, Steve Harrelson spoke about the School Board's June 2008 vote to cut out travel from the budget and why he would not vote for travel now.


For months, commissioners voiced concerns about past actions of school administrators and school officials. Commissioner mentioned that in the past, they were told that money was needed to fix school buildings such as the Loudon High School auditorium, only to learn later that the money was used for other purposes including pay increases. The Loudon High auditorium stills awaits repairs and remains closed some 1˝ years later for serious life safety deficiencies. Video Clip Commissioner Earlena Maples openly voiced her concerns at a commission meeting, months back, with her Click TELL ALL.


By taking money from the maintenance budget intended to fix school buildings just to use these monies for discretionary Board travel, helps to undermine the trust and confidence in the School Board and School Administration’s decisions.