Gary Ubben (l), Rick Best, Bobby Johnson, Jr., Van Shaver (r)







Don't expect THE HUNTER REPORT to sit on this story unlike the local paper, or other local websites. 

For the last three years, the election of officers on the Loudon County Board of Education has been anything but mundane. The election of chair and vice chair is usually very contentious to say the least and this was no different.   

After the election of the board chairman, director Jason Vance transferred the meeting back to Chairman Scott Newman. As Newman prepared to ask for nominations for vice-chair, board member Van Shaver pre-empted him. Shaver began a discussion to eliminate the position of vice chair held by fellow 5th District school board member Gary Ubben. He spoke about state law, and how the school board was not required to have a vice-chair unlike commission. At that point, Vice-Chairman Gary Ubben sat up and with his hands clasped and glared at Shaver.

If there’s no statutory requirement for a vice-chair and the law did the not explicitly give us the authority Shaver questioned why a vice-chair was needed, or if the position was necessary. He questioned what authority a vice-chair actually had.   

“We have a director that we are very comfortable with now and I am not nominating Jason (Vance), I’m not going to put him in that odd position” he commented. Shaver spoke about Newman and how he wasn’t out much, and that he lived close to the Central Office if he was needed for school business.

Shaver went on to say that the present school board policy states that the Executive Committee is comprised of the school director, chairman, and vice-Chairman and that it was “illegal” and that two elected officials could not meet behind closed doors to conduct business without public notice and public participation.  Shaver pointed out that state law states that the Executive Committee was comprised of the school director and chairman and he wasn’t sure how that became local policy. Past Policy Committee Chairperson Lisa Russell offered no explanation to address Van Shaver’s legality concerns.

Van Shaver saw no need for a vice-chair and he thought it was fine for school director Vance to run a meeting in the absence of Chairman Newman. “Just Food for thought” said Shaver.

Any more discussion on vice chair or nominations replied Chairman Scott Newman.

Rick Best nominated Gary Ubben for vice chair, which was seconded by Leroy Tate.

Any more nominations asked Chairman Newman.

Lisa Russell spoke about receiving policy updates that the board would be considering, which were distributed at the last workshop. Russell wanted to point out that the proposed Executive Committee policy was clarified as being comprised of the chair and school director.

I would like to nominate Leroy Tate as Vice-Chair motioned Chairman Scott Newman, which was seconded by Bobby Johnson, Jr.

Craig Simon asked about the proposed new policy and director Jason Vance spoke about TSBA’s policies recommendations and that he had not had an opportunity to review the policies and to make recommendations. Vance thought a policy committee was needed this year as in previous years but Newman did not appoint one. Just because TSBA recommends the policy doesn’t mean that the school board has to adopt the policy because the school board has the option of tailoring policies for its own needs. Simon was concerned about the legality of the Executive Committee.

Vice Chair Gary Ubben pointed out that there were two different issues, whether the school board wanted a vice-chair, and whether the vice-chair would be included on the Executive Committee. Ubben said that during his two years as vice-chair he had not met with the other two (chair, and school director).       

You probably need a vice-chair if the chair is out of town and you need to have an Executive Committee meeting commented Tate. The vice-chair can’t serve on the committee even if the chairman is gone argued Shaver.  Ubben told Shaver, that wasn’t the question. It sure was replied Shaver, there’s nothing in the law that says that the vice-chair can pick up the chairman’s duties if he is out of town, incapacitated, or dead.

Why can’t a vice-chair step in; it can be local policy commented Gary Ubben.

Are there any more nominations asked Newman.

Will we vote on these separately asked Rick Best; yes replied Newman? We could vote yes on both of them as Best through his hands in the air.

Van Shaver remained steadfast, the position is not needed, but then he nominated William Jenkins as vice-chair. “He has an expressed an interest in wanting to be slightly more involved” as a possible vice-chair nomination, Shaver added. Leroy Tate seconded Shaver’s motion.

Tate requested that his name be withdrawn as vice-chair, and Chairman Scott Newman withdrew his motion.   

Chairman Newman said that Mr. Ubben would be first followed by Mr. Jenkins.

Will we vote for Mr. Jenkins if Mr. Ubben gets the majority vote asked Rick Best? No replied Newman. I just wanted clarification.

Roll call – Gary Ubben for Vice-Chair:

Mr. Johnson – No; Mr. Best-Yes; Mr. Ubben – Yes; Mr. Newman-No; Mrs. Russell-Yes;  Mr. Simon-Yes; Mr. Jenkins-No; Mr. Tate-Yes;  Mr. Shaver-No.  Absent: Bill Marcus. YES – 5; NO -4; Absent – 1. The motion failed said Joan Lovelace.  

Roll call – William Jenkins for Vice-Chair: Mr. Best-No; Mr. Ubben –No; Mrs. Russell-Yes; Mr. Simon – Yes; Mr. Jenkins – Yes; Mr. Tate – Yes; Mr. Shaver – Yes;  Mr. Johnson – Yes. Absent: Bill Marcus. Yes – 7; NO – 2; Absent: 1. The motion passed said Joan Lovelace.

William Jenkins will be the new Vice-Chair through 11-12 (September). Jenkins is an employee of the Lenoir City Recreation Department along with fellow school board member Bobby Johnson, Jr., and their boss Lenoir City Recreation Director Steve Harrelson, Loudon County Commissioner 6th District.

At the end of the school board meeting, one disgruntled school board member commented to the local press something about that it would take the next election to bring about change.