ROGERSVILLE — An issue that has been a nagging problem for many years is about to be addressed at Rogersville City School ... high humidity levels in the 1970s addition to the building.

Director Rebecca Isaacs told the board at the Aug. 6, 2019 meeting that a number of remedies have been attempted over the years, including the installation of dehumidifiers.

Those dehumidifiers, she said, have to be manually emptied three to four times per day, and are not adequate to handle the problem.

“That is not effective, not efficient, and probably not healthy,” she said.

Isaacs advised the board that she has spoken with the consultant who assisted the school a couple of years ago with successfully addressing the unpleasant smell in the 1950s portion of the building.

That consultant, she said, recently visited Rogersville and went on a tour of the property and said that to properly address the humidity issue with an adequately-sized and dedicated dehumidification unit would cost in the range of $100,000, with a consultant’s fee of about $20,500.

Isaacs said that she recognizes the need to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, but told the board that in order to keep “the beautiful old girl of Rogersville” in shape and able to serve students for many years to come, “we’re going to have to address some of these issues”.

Isaacs said, however, that when considering all of the other major renovation and repair projects that have been completed in recent years, that, barring some unforeseen emergency or “act of God” — if the board voted to approve the dehumidification project — “I cannot imagine that there will be major maintenance issues moving forward”.

If approved, she said, the board would be looking at about 160 days from the date the contract is awarded to completion.

In the words of the consultant, she said, “This is the fix”.

A motion to move forward with the project was approved unanimously after considerable ‘pro vs. con’ discussion among board members.

Board Chairman Reed Matney said that the BOE has, in the past, spent inordinate amounts of money to “fix little things”, and that it makes sense to him to follow the advice of the consultant.

“These guys seem to know,” he said. “Things age, and when the buildings get older, I think it does create some moisture problems. This seems to be the way to fix it so that we don’t have more problems down the road. If we do it, let’s do it right.”

New business

With Director Isaacs upcoming retirement at the end of the 2019-20 school year (June 30, 2020), the board voted unanimously to secure the services of Wayne Qualls to search for and screen applicants for the position.

Qualls’ firm, Teams, Inc., was involved in the recent search for a new Director of Schools for the Hawkins Co. School System, and comes highly recommended and respected as, himself, a retired superintendent of schools, Isaacs said.

Director’s Update

“We had a fabulous opening of school this week,” Isaacs told the board, and gave progress reports on summer-time repair and maintenance projects that have been completed, including painting and replacement of soffit around the building, painting of the hallways in the Kindergarten area, completion of the new boiler project, and also completion of the new playground.

On a negative note, Isaacs said the school was notified at the end of July that the security of some of its benchmarking data had been breached, with the first and last names of students obtained, apparently by an online hacker.

“By whom we don’t know,” she said, but assured the board that no identifying information, such as Social Security numbers, birthdays, or student IDs were accessed in the breach.

The firm that maintains the information has offered to provide one year of free identity theft monitoring to those affected and letters to that effect will be going home with students, she said.

Gary Hicks, the school’s technology person and also a State Representative for Hawkins and Hancock counties, said he heard about the breach in Nashville and believes the incident affected more schools across the state.

Isaacs said that initial enrollment numbers, as of the end of the day on Tuesday, were down slightly from last year — 626 — but added that that could and probably will change in the next week as “late” enrollments come in.

She warned the board that if enrollment continues to decline at RCS, as it is doing in most other schools in the county, that future cuts to programs and personnel may be needed.

“I am telling you, there are some hard days ahead, I fear, when it comes to enrollment, but not this year, thankfully,” she said.

Some of the decline, board members speculated, could be that families are having fewer children, and an overall lack of new jobs in the area that attract families with school-age children.

With conflicts for both months, the board agreed to reschedule its regular monthly meetings for both September and October to the first Monday rather than the usual second Monday.

The September 3 and October 1 meetings will both begin at 5 p.m.

Approval of Consent Agenda

The board, upon second reading, approved (unanimously) the following policies:

1.406 Minutes

1.804 Alcohol & Drugs in the Workplace

1.901 Charter School Applications

1.903 Charter School Oversight

1.905 Charter School Renewal

1.906 Charter School Revocation

2.403 Surplus Property Sales

2.601 Fundraising Activities

3.202 Emergency Preparedness Plan

4.700 Testing Programs

5.200 Separation Practices for Tenured Teachers

5.201 Separation Practices for Non-Tenured Teachers

5.305 Family and Medical Leave

5.605 Staff Gifts & Solicitations

6.200 Attendance

6.300 Code of Conduct

6.506 Students from Military Families

Field trips, cheer camp approved

The BOE also pproved the following Field Trips for 2019-2020, along with the annual cheer camp:

Pre-K — Pumpkin Patch (October), Polar Express (December), Sevier Air (April).

Kindergarten — Fenders Farm (October), Polar Express (December), and Pink Pig (March or April).

1st Grade — Exchange Place (September), Bright’s Zoo (April), and Wallabies (May).

2nd Grade — Zoo (October), Derrick Park (April), Aquarium (May).

3rd Grade — Appalachian Fair (Aug. 20), Bays Mountain (November), Natural Tunnel (May), and Gray Fossil Site (May).

4th Grade — Eastman or Niswonger (October), Gem Mine (May), and Tipton Hayes (May).

5th Grade — Biltmore (May).

6th Grade — 4-H Camp (September), JA Biz Town (December), and City Park (May).

7th Grade — Andrew Johnson Museum (May).

8th Grade — Dollywood (May).

Reading Counts — Pinnacle (May), and East End Lanes (May).

Choir — Knoxville Symphony (November).

STEM 7th & 8th Grade — TN Technology Center (Not sure of date).

FCA — Bowling & Cheddars (May).

Cheer Camp --September 4, 2019, 3 — 5 p.m., $30 per student.