BY MICHELLE KEY
The Lee County School Board voted unanimously at its Tuesday night meeting to approve a motion to name the Smiths Station Junior High School band room in honor of Dr. Rusty Corson for his years of service. Corson spent 22 years in the Smiths Station school district, teaching in the band program. The idea to change the name of the Junior High band room came from the Smiths Station Band Association and the director of bands, Gene Butler.
“He [Harris] felt like it would be a great honor to name the band room after Dr. Corson,” said Brian Roberson, District 7 Board Representative.
The board also heard from three citizens during the time allowed for community speakers.
First up was Lee County resident Micah Messer, who presented the board with more than 100 signatures from parents requesting that the board maintain its current mask-optional policy for students returning to school in the Lee County system.
“What I have in front of me here is over 100 parent petitions to make sure that Lee County schools remain mask-optional,” Messer said. “As we know right now, Lee County is not having a mask mandate for our schools in Lee County and all of these parents wish it to remain the same.
“I would ask that you respect the parent’s voice, their ability to choose their own health for their own children moving forward. As we know this is a very fluid situation; Iwould ask that you remember that every child matters and that the parents decisions on the health of their child matters,” Messer said.
He ended with a quote from Milton Freeman: “‘Whenever we depart from voluntary cooperation and try to do good by using force, the bad moral value of force triumphs over good intentions.’”
A parent whose child attended school in Smiths Station addressed the board requesting a hardship placement in order for her child to be able to continue attending the Smiths Station school. Superintendent Dr. James “Mac” McCoy said that he would be in touch with the parent following the meeting.
Donna Carr addressed the board regarding her concerns on the lack of COVID-19 precautions being taken at South Smiths Station Elementary School.
Carr’s grandson attends the school. “I am very concerned about the mask ordinance,” she said. “I am not the type person that is against people that don’t want to wear a mask, but I wish there was some type of compromise.”
Carr described her grandson’s classroom, which she visited with him, and talked about how the children were seated at tables facing one another and how her grandson was the only child wearing a mask.
“That was very concerning to me; my grandson has asthma and I have heart problems,” Carr said. “I wish there were some other safety precautions put in place.”
She suggested the possibility of potentially separating the children who are not wearing masks from the ones who are wearing masks.
Larry Patterson, District 6 board representative, asked to speak on the matter of the mask policy following the community speakers. Patterson implied that he did not agree with the statement that the board had decided to have a mask-optional policy and went on record to have his name removed from that statement because he was not present when the decision was made.
“I want to go on record; where it says [the] board made the recommendation about masks, having choice as to masking, as Dr. McCoy and I talked about this before I left town … take my name off of this where it says ‘board,’” Patterson said. “Sometimes we don’t make the right decisions as adults, you know we are acting like children when they need to be doing what is right.”
District 2 Representative Larry Boswell assured Patterson that the board would monitor the situation on a daily basis.
“We will review on a daily basis … if it changes, we will go back to the drawing board,” Boswell said.
In other business:
• The board voted to approve five out of town field trips for the Smiths Station High School.
• The board received a report from David Lane regarding the annual audit for the period from Oct. 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020. No negative findings were reported as a part of this audit.
“I am certainly pleased with this report, this is one of the best ones thus far under my tenure here,” McCoy said.
• The board voted to approve the financial report given by Ken Roberts for the month of June 2021. The report showed that local revenue was up 12.5% as of June 30.
• The board voted to approve various human resource recommendations.
• The board voted to approve a human resource board meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 31. McCoy informed the board that there are still several positions within the school system that need to be filled.