Bradley County School Board Chairman Charlie Rose on Thursday urged support for the wheel tax that would bring new funding for the schools.
He said, ”The Bradley County School Board is on record as saying our system has three major capital outlay projects which include an academic building at Lake Forest Middle School an addition of academic rooms at Walker Valley High School because of overcrowding and a new elementary school to replace Blue Springs Elementary.
Cleveland City Schools are on record addressing a need for a new elementary school on the north side of town because of increased student enrollment.
"It was the decision of the Bradley County Commission to fund these projects with a $32 wheel tax for each vehicle and a $16 wheel tax per motorcycle. This tax will be collected each year when one renews their vehicle registration should the referendum pass. The resolution is very clear. The money collected by this wheel tax will go toward the four projects listed in the resolution.
"Tomorrow the citizens of Bradley County will have the opportunity to speak as early voting begins in our county and final election day on Aug. 2. The question is simple, do we want to address the needs of our school system or do we choose not to address the needs? This is the only game in town. I would like to encourage each of you to vote for the wheel tax.”
Prior to their regular monthly meeting, the board met in a joint session with the Cleveland City Board of Education for the annual meeting of the Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation. Foundation President Rebecca McIntire updated the joint board on their progress. Last year, the executive committee expanded to 16 members. She asked board members to extend Don Lorton’s representation on the executive committee for two years. The motion passed unanimously.
The foundation has focused primarily on business, corporate and major donors on terms of solicitation during the past year. Last year, the foundation initiated Vision 100 targeting those willing to give $1,000 annually to the foundation to support its efforts. President McIntire reported the foundation will be hosting its second Vision 100 event in the fall with a date still pending. The Vision 100 event encourages attendees to further invest in education and has been helpful in increasing revenue for the foundation.
Financial planners and attorneys who specialize in estate planning have received personal letters with the legacy society brochure. This encourages people as they are making plans for their estate to consider the foundation in that estate planning.
The foundation is entering the fourth year of a five-year operational plan adopted in 2009. During the past three months, the foundation has had four focus groups that have come together comprised of executive committee members and trustees that have laid out further strategies in the areas of operations, program support, financial management and cultivation of fundraising and board development. At last month’s executive committee planning session, the foundations entertained reports from each of the focus groups and are now mapping out a coordinated strategy from those recommendations.
During the session, they adopted five statements which purely reflect the foundation’s values and form the core of their message when they speak to the public. They are: 1. An educated public is foundational to a healthy and productive society. 2. Every child has the right to be educated to his or her highest level of ability in an environment that fully strengthens the educational process. 3. The local school systems should be financially supportive to the extent that they may focus exclusively on the educational process. 4. Private financial support should enhance, not replace public support of education. 5. Private donors to the educational process should be appropriately thanked and recognized for their contributions.
Executive Committee member Don Lorton spoke on behalf of foundation Treasurer/Secretary Rodney Fitzgerald to update the joint board on the foundation’s financial status. He said, “The foundation is in excellent financial shape according to many factors, meeting all legal and ethical standings.” Mr. Lorton shared some of the highlights of this year’s financial program. Since 2009, the foundation doubled the charitable gifts received to $205,000. The average dollars per pupil amount of the foundation is $13.69 per pupil which compares favorably with the national statistics. Mr. Lorton said, “We’re not pleased with that. We think that within reason we can be able to double that. We don’t want to be good, we want to be great.”
Twenty-seven percent of funding for the foundation comes from charitable gifts from educational family, including board members, 46 percent from business and corporate gifts, 34 percent from private individuals and three percent from interest on investment. Vision 100 is a large part of fundraising.
Several gifts to the foundation this year include grants from the Athens Federal Foundation, Eaton Charitable Fund, a major gift from the Bank of Cleveland in support of technology and team teaching program at E.L. Ross Elementary School and a private anonymous donor supporting the International Bachelorette Application for Walker Valley High School.
In the past fiscal year, the foundation has contributed $140,000 to the two school systems, $77,000 to Bradley County and $63,000 to Cleveland City. The mini grant program has been the steadiest since the beginning of the organization of the foundation. 54 grants have been awarded to 17 schools totaling $44,000. A system wide grant for the K-5 Leadership Program was awarded for $5,000 to Bradley and another $5,000 to Stuart Elementary School for its Lunchtime Educational Programming.
Tennessee currently ranks 27th in the United States for National Board Certification with 535 National Board Certified teachers including six locally and four in cue. Mr. Lorton said, “It’s a good year and a productive year, but we are never satisfied.”
At the conclusion of the joint meeting, Bradley County Board of Education Director Johnny McDaniel said, “We’ve been forward thinking. The mini grants do make a difference for the teachers and the children that receive those grants. My gratitude and thanks to the foundation.”
Mr. McDaniel gave the Director of Schools good news report at the start of the Bradley County Board of Education regular meeting. Some of the highlights include the following:
At Charleston Elementary, the Olin and Charleston Elementary Relay for Life team collected over $1,200 for the American Cancer Society. Students designed the T-shirt which the team wore for the relay. Also, the Panther Club Choir participated in the Showcase Festival Competition at Dollywood. They earned first place in the elementary division along with an overall first place finish.
At Ocoee Middle School, they raised over $1,800 for Relay for Life. OMS was awarded a plaque for the most money raised by a school in Bradley County. Also Ocoee Middle recognized over 500 students at Honors Night held in May at the Conn Center at Lee University. Students were awarded Gold or Silver Scholar recognition.
At Park View Elementary School, they have added a Robotics Lego Lab to the STEM program through the support of Eaton Corporation and its employees. Seven Park View teachers participated in STEM classes taught through a grant at UTC this summer. The Robotics Lab was one of the products teachers used in the class and the lab will be a great addition to STEM education at Park View.
At Taylor Elementary School, the Bradley/Cleveland Community Services Agency has sponsored the Summer Feed and Recreation Program. The program operated during the month of June and served 25-40 children per day.
At Walker Valley High School, Seven members of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) attended the 2012 National Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas. The Walker Valley Chapter was presented the Hollis and Kitty Guy Seal Chapter Award of Merit and was recognized as a National Outstanding Chapter from among more than 15,000 chapters. Only 92 chapters were recognized with this outstanding award.
The Bradley County Virtual School has enrolled approximately 30 students including elementary, middle and high school students. Registration ends on July 20. An orientation session will be held on July 30 and 31.
Bradley County Adult Education received a $5,000 grant from Dollar General. The grant, Dollars for Diplomas will provide $40 toward the current $65 fee for GED testing. Also, REACH Adult High School students will be virtual students beginning in fall, 2012. Students will work from home toward completion of graduation requirements.
The board recognized Ashlynne Bryant for receiving a second place National award for interviewing skills at the HOSA National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida. Ashlynne recently graduated with honors from Bradley Central High School. Her family lost everything in the April 27, 2011 tornadoes. The only thing she salvaged was her laptop. She completed the CNA program and is currently employed at Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. She also won first place at the HOSA regional and State Competitions.
In other news, Walker Valley High School has agreed to support students in the Chemical Technology 121 Dual Enrollment Class in the Wacker Institute School of Chemical Science. All students can take the program and the cost will be covered by Wacker Chemie. Now, students at Bradley Central High School can participate in the program allowing both county high school students the opportunity to participate. Work will continue with Cleveland State and Chattanooga State Colleges to complete the classes. Approval for the ET 115 Engineering Computers Class has also been given to be taught by high school teachers to receive dual credit without cost to students. The ET 115 class or the four classes before the CT 121 serve as foundation for all engineering programs, meaning students not interested in chemical technology can still enter engineering programs for Wacker, VW mechanical engineering and TVA nuclear and radiation programs. Students taking all these classes will start college as a second semester freshman.