Former 1st District representative Bobby Fox returned to his old Bedford County Commission seat Tuesday night on a 14-2 vote of fellow commissioners. Fox was sworn in immediately after the vote. He will fill the time remaining in the Bell Buckle-area seat vacated by Brent Smith, who moved from the district, until next year’s elections.
Fox has said he has no plans to seek the position permanently, Eric Maddox, recipient of the other two votes, was encouraged by Commissioner Anita Epperson to run for the seat next year. She said commissioners feel he’d make a good fit but needs to learn more about how the commission operates.
New achievement and growth scores for Bedford County School System were given to commissioners in the form of a math lesson by Schools Director Dr. Tammy Garrett. The stats are encouraging yet leave much room for improvement, Garrett said.
“We still have some work to do,” Garrett said. “Our goal will be to reach the state average.”
Schools are graded from 1 to 5 each year with 5 being best, Garrett said. Nine of 14 schools in Bedford County scored 5s with Cascade Elementary named a Tennessee Rewards School, meaning it scored in the top 5 percent of all schools statewide. Thomas Magnet School rated a 4, East Side Elementary a 2 and Cascade High School, Eakin Elementary and Southside Elementary each scored 1.
Garrett released proficiency scores, as follows:
“Economically disadvantaged students were a struggle at 12.8 percent proficient, and our ELL students were another challenge for us at 9.4 percent proficiency,” Garrett said. “Our goal, and the schools know our goal, is to exceed the state average in our next testing cycle.”
The system scored 29.6 percent in readiness for college or careers.
“We are working really hard to see if we can redesign our high schools to improve that average,” Garrett said.
Graduation rate in Bedford County is 91.9 percent and the success rate, “how we scored on all tests, was 23.1 percent compared to state average 27.8 percent,” according to Garrett.
Commissioners were told Bedford County’s per pupil expenditure is $8,264, compared to the state aver- age of $9,694.
Several commissioners have asked the percentage of Hispanic students in the Bedford County school system, Garrett said. The system’s Hispanic population is 27.2 percent and the percentage of economically disadvantaged students is 32.9.
Garrett updated commissioners on projects in the school system. The system is still awaiting approval of funds for the new wing at Community High School. The project itself has been approved.
“We are ready to go as soon as the state gives us the approval,” Garrett said.
Negotiations are in progress to purchase land for a new elementary school just north of Shelbyville, and Garrett said one goal for that project is to get students out of portable classrooms at East Side, Eakin, then eventually Southside. Garrett said approximately 750 students are currently in portables.
Anderson asked why Garrett is looking at 20-acre lots for elementary schools when 10 acres was sufficient for schools across the country for years. Garrett said the school system’s architect recommends 20 years. Commissioner Mark Thomas said it’s due to environmental issues such as retention ponds and storm drainage that weren’t factors in the 1960s and 1970s.
Sale of the former Central High/Harris Middle School gym on Elm Street was unanimously approved.