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KCS leaders approve fuel stipend for bus drivers, body cameras and bomb threat policy changes

After discussing the policy changes, the Knox County Board of Education voted to approve them on June 8.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — During a work session meeting Monday, leaders with Knox County Schools discussed a wide range of items. They are expected to then vote on the proposals during a meeting on Wednesday.

First, they discussed whether to implement a fuel stipend program for bus and shuttle drivers during the summer. They proposed providing $750 per bus for contractors who operate buses in June, and $1,125 per bus for contractors who operate in June and July.

Shuttle drivers could be eligible for a $575 stipend if they work in June and July.

Leaders said the proposal would cost $180,000 in total, but also said $105,000 of those stipends would qualify for reimbursement from a state summer grant program since they take students to Summer Learning Camps. The rest would come from general-purpose funds, according to the proposal.

They said they are expected to operate around 220 buses and shuttles over the summer.

In April, the board approved a fuel stipend payment to contractors that averaged around $1,500 per bus. It was designed to offset the sharp spike in fuel prices that exceeded a $4.30 per gallon on their contract's fuel index program

The new proposal would also change the fuel index cap to $6.00 per gallon, and they said the change would help KCS continue the program into the next school year without additional action.

On Wednesday, board members decided to approve the stipend.

After that, they are discussed whether they should change the policy over how threats involving explosives are handled. Many of the changes they propose are minor.

However, the changes would also more specifically define what constitutes a threat. They would include written threats, pictures, drawings and ones posted on social media. The full definition of a threat that they're proposing is available below.

A threat must insinuate harm and a reasonable person must interpret the communication as a threat of harm. A threat includes, but is not limited to intent to alarm, annoy, offend, or frighten2 via verbal threats, non-verbal threats, written threats, electronic threats, internet-related threats, threats on social networking websites, sending an image, the use of pictures or drawings to convey a threat, threats made over the telephone, and threats made via text-messaging.

The changes were approved on Wednesday.

Finally, the board discussed whether they should spend around $203,293 on body cameras for school security officers that will be worn from July 1 to June 30, 2023. The contract would be with Central Technologies Inc. and could be extended annually for 4 years.

According to the contract, the county would receive 125 VB400 Close Fit Body-worn cameras as well as magnetic mounts. They would also subscribe to software to help record and manage videos the cameras take.

Central Technologies also said it would give on-site training to personnel, including how to use the system, and equipment and take care of the cameras. They said it would take 20 business days to deliver and configure the cameras, according to bid documentation.

KCS leaders said the cameras could be funded by the Tennessee Safe Schools Act.

Knox County Schools leaders decided to approve the contract on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, they also decided to give the Austin-East Magnet High School Library $10,000 through the Snapdragon Book Foundation grant. The Fulton High School and Inskip Elementary School libraries will also get $10,000 through grants from the Laura Bush Foundation.

Wednesday's meeting was also the final meeting for Raymond Jin, the board's student representative.

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