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School board breaks in new home

Xavier Smith • Mar 29, 2018 at 7:23 PM

The Wilson County Board of Education broke in its new home Thursday as it held its first official meeting at the Wilson County Administrative and Training Complex on Harding Drive.

The district’s $20-million renovation project transformed the old Lebanon High School building on Harding Drive into the district’s central office, which brought nearly every department within the Wilson County school system under one roof for the first time.  

The school board will now hold meetings in the former library, which tripled the size of the board’s meeting room on Stumpy Lane.

Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall gave the board an overview of the meeting space and its amenities during Thursday’s work session before the group conducted a mock board meeting to work out more kinks.

Hall said the meeting room features 180 seats and six monitors, both of which are triple the amount in the former meeting space. Hall said additional seats could also be added to the room, if necessary.

“When people are giving a presentation, you don’t have to get up and move, or you don’t have to turn around,” Hall said.

The room also allows for electronic voting, transcribing of speakers and indication of speakers on all monitors. The district’s four student board members are also able to give their reports from their seats, as they are now seated alongside board members and district staff.

“It just makes it a little more formal and go a little smoother,” Hall said.

 Board attendees should park in the event parking space in the former student parking lot. The board meeting entrance will be the event entrance, which leads to the board meeting room.

The school board continued its discussion on a potential random drug test program for high school student athletes and participants in extracurricular activities.

The group approved a policy change earlier this month that would establish a committee to develop random drug test procedures for high school athletes and participants in extracurricular activities. The second reading and vote will take place Monday during the group’s regular board meeting.

Chuck Whitlock, Wilson County Schools health services supervisor, said the district has discussed a random drug test policy for about two years and was born from concerns from high school administrators.

“We’ve not seen a significant uptick in drug use or possession on campus, but there is concern for the safety of our kids outside of school,” Whitlock said earlier this month. “The national opioid crisis is highlighted in the news almost daily, and the sad truth is that Tennessee is one of the worst states in the nation regarding opioid use.”

No student who tests positive under the random drug test program would be suspended or expelled from school solely as the result of a positive test. Whitlock highlighted the Tennessee attorney general’s opinion on random drug testing of students stipulates that it should be rehabilitative in nature.

“We’ll make an emphasis on this Monday night. I think everybody needs to understand this does not only include young ladies and gentlemen playing sports. This is for any extracurricular activity. We’re not just singling out our athletes,” board chairman Larry Tomlinson said.

If approved, the district would aim to have the random drug testing policy and procedures in place prior to the 2018-2019 school year, but there remains a chance it would not be in place, according to Whitlock.

Monday’s regular meeting is set for 6 p.m. at 415 Harding Drive.

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