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KCS leaders to discuss and vote on $1 million cost increase on new school construction Wednesday

Other items on the agenda included explicitly banning vaping for school bus drivers and approving a program offering college EMS courses for students.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On Wednesday, leaders with Knox County Schools will meet to discuss and vote on a list of different proposals and policy changes. They were originally scheduled to meet Monday for a work session, but the meeting was canceled.

They will need to vote on whether to spend more than $1 million in additional costs to build a new elementary school in the northwest section of Knox County. It is being built by The Christman Company, and they said the additional cost is a result of price escalation issues involved with the underground stormwater detention system.

They also said they found issues with the subsurface condition that increased the cost.

Towards the top of the list, education leaders will discuss and vote on whether to approve dual-enrollment programs with several colleges. These programs give students a chance to study at the college level while attending high school, allowing them to earn college credit before graduation.

They will discuss agreements with Carson-Newman University, South College and East Tennessee State University to provide the classes. They will also discuss whether to approve an agreement with Roane State Community College to offer college-level classes on emergency medicine.

They will also discuss whether to approve $75,600 in improvements to Bearden Middle School's soccer field and build a $44,654 baseball locker room at Hardin Valley Academy. The funds for each project were raised by the schools.

Powell Middle School also raised money through coupon book sales for a new $36,530 digital sign.

They will also decide whether to approve changes to their current policies and start requiring student ID cards to be printed with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number. The policy faces its first reading on Wednesday.

They will also discuss requiring Knox County Schools' libraries to prepare lists of materials in their collections to be reviewed by administrators, per new state law. The policy would require libraries to make procedures for building collections that are "appropriate for the age and maturity levels of the students who may access the materials, and that is suitable for, and consistent with, the educational mission of the school."

School leaders will also discuss whether to change the policy for how community members can use school facilities. Those changes would allow them to cancel events involving political campaigning, in order to align with state laws surrounding where politicians can promote themselves.

Civic meetings would need to be open to the general public and take place during non-school hours, and political campaign meetings would not be allowed on school property for 30 days before early voting "due to the potential for bias and misperceptions." 

Finally, they will also discuss whether to explicitly restrict drivers from vaping while taking students to and from school. The school system's policy already banned profanity, tobacco products, drugs and intoxicating beverages. The policy change is facing its second reading and will immediately go into effect if passed.

Finally, the board is expected to approve an award of $15,000 from the Van's Custom Culture Contest award. Students from Central High School entered the national competition and made it into the top five schools.

They are also expected to receive around $7.1 million in grants from the Tennessee Department of Education to provide four weeks of "Summer Learning Loss Bridge Camps" for students between sixth grade and eighth grade and six weeks of "Summer Learning Camps" for elementary school students.

They will also provide "STREAM Mini-Camps" to give students a chance to participate in real-world problem-solving experiences.

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