Education panel reaching out to communities

Friday, October 17, 2008

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Marshall County commissioners' Education Committee wants to reach out and make itself available to the communities served by the public schools here.

In a related effort, members of the committee led by Commissioner Larry McKnight want to have leaders of other similarly-sized school systems share their insights on how to educate students.

McKnight had suggested the members of the County Commission's Education Committee "visit a school each quarter and make a written report" to the committee. The suggestion was written on the committee's prepared agenda for its most recent meeting in the Marshall County Courthouse Annex on Lewisburg's public square.

In response, Commissioner Don Ledford suggested that McKnight schedule committee meetings on a rotating bass at each of the county's schools.

"The schools would welcome that," responded Kristin Gold, a member of the county's Board of Education who was attending the commissioners' Education Committee meeting on Sept. 29.

McKnight's reaction to Ledford's suggestion; "Let's do that."

The Education Committee traditionally meets one week after the monthly meeting of the County Commission which is set to convene again on Oct. 27 at 6 p.m.

If the committee meets in a school once a month, McKnight said that visit shouldn't become a substitute for commissioners' visit and report on schools every three months.

McKnight also suggested that the Education Committee find a way to "benchmark other schools outside the county for comparisons."

That idea also generated additional suggestions. One was from Commissioner Jimmy Stitt.

"We should ask other school systems' leaders to visit us," and talk with the Marshall County Commission's Education Committee, Stitt said.

However, the other systems should be selected to be similar to Marshall County's, Stitt said.

"Don't compare apples to oranges," the commissioner said as he began to cite average daily attendance numbers for the systems in Marshall, Louden and other nearby systems.

Marshall County Schools have a total enrollment of approximately 5,300 students now, he said. Loudon County has had 4,966 students, according to the most recent figures Stitt could cite.

To make the discussion with other county's schools leaders efficient, McKnight suggested teleconferencing.