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Schools, teachers cited for excellence

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Bedford County Board of Education held its monthly meeting Tuesday at Community High School.  

A special presentation was made to recognize schools and individual teachers—those achieving the highest Reward Level 5 status at the state level.  

Nine local schools achieved a Level 5 in significant growth from the 2020-2021 school year, despite all that played into education surrounding the pandemic, said Assistant Director of Schools Tim Harwell, who conducted the presentation.  

The state is “holding harmless” teachers from accountability this year, due to the pandemic. Most districts in the state opted to test anyway and have been rewarded accordingly.  

Based on data recently released from spring 2020-2021 state testing, Harwell told school board members and guests that 36 Bedford County teachers, spread over 10 schools, also achieved Level 5 status in academic growth—that which the state measures over time.  

“Due to the pandemic in the 2019- 2020 school year, TCAP and EOC testing did not occur. As a result, no district had TVAAS growth data from grades 3 and 4.”  

Harwell introduced “superstar teachers” from grades 5-11 who have “displayed significant evidence that their students made more growth than expected.” (See photos in Saturday’s Times-Gazette.) 

“We are also excited to share that 33 out of our 35 kindergarten teachers and all seven preschool teachers in Bedford County achieved a Level 5 on their portfolio submitted to the state,” Harwell announced.  

Those portfolio supported teachers-while in non-testing grade levels receive an individualized measure to capture their students’ learning through submitted work samples, videos, audios and photos.  

The reflective nature of that portfolio process—one in which teachers collect, review and submit work samples to the state— is considered a “valuable and professional learning experience.” Harwell said the kindergarten and preschool teachers will be recognized at their respective schools in the future.  

Board chair Michael Cook said, “We appreciate Level 5 teachers and schools . . . everything you do.” 

Other business  

While contract approval for the future land purchase for a new elementary school was on the agenda, there was no board discussion, prior to the board moving ahead.  

Board member Diane Neeley said she would be abstaining from that vote.  

Neeley said she was not “comfortable” with all the information surrounding the contract thus far.  

“I think we have valid points that we’ve not explored. And I am concerned about moving forward with this.”  

Following board approval, minus Neeley, of the contract, board member Glenn Forsee asked about a rezoning issue.  

We asked if the rezoning time frame, discussed at last month’s board meeting, has been clarified.  

Director of Schools Garrett responded her office has an established committee to study that, consisting of several Central Office supervisors, including Kenny Parker, director of transportation.  

There will also be a principal on that committee, she advised. Garrett said, “We feel to establish the boundaries right now . . . if we start right away with building we’ve got to make sure we do our due diligence. It would be at least the first of the year. With all the houses, the zoning could possibly change of what we need in a three-year time period. We are looking at that and exploring the options. And it will take some time.”  

Forsee clarified, stating said he was referring to rezoning with the City of Shelbyville and or County Government.  

“That would be during the due diligence period and we have felt that they can get it done, according to Mr. Bobo [John T. Bobo, county attorney],” Garrett said.  

Forsee asked if there will be a report presented during future school board meetings on the progress of the design and concept of the new school.  

“Absolutely, once we get through the due diligence—making sure this is the land that we’re able to purchase—that we would bring you reports back, along the way. We would also love to take some tours of some buildings that maybe this architect has designed and maybe some others that we want to look at-those designed by other architects as well.”  

The architect for this new school will be Kline Swinney of Nashville, which has been retained for all future county building projects, including schools. For nearly 30 years, Davis Stokes Collaborative has overseen the architectural designs of the local schools.  

Chair Cook said he appreciated the board moving on toward the new school construction.  

In other business  

Several school policies were approved Tuesday— most recommended by Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA.)  

Copies of these policies, including one for the board’s Code of Conduct, are available through the school system.  

There was also no discussion on the new Community High School wing. The school board has been waiting approval from the federal government and the state to use some remaining funds related to COVID-19 for the new classroom wing-one which may include Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes.  

The Times-Gazette has requested more information on the land purchase contract and any new information on the Community School wing from Director of Schools Tammy Garrett. 

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