Today is Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Year in Review: Education in 2016

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Photo by Dallus Whitfield: Jennifer Elliott was named Teacher of the Year.

The biggest education-related news in Wilson County in 2016 was the massive county building program approved to handle explosive growth throughout the county.

Some other top highlights in the county were as follows:

  • Overall 2016 Teacher of the Year announced: In April, Winfree Bryant Middle School special education teacher Jennifer Elliott took home the title of "Teacher of the Year" at the 18th annual awards ceremony. All the other nominees from across the system were also honored at a special ceremony held at Cumberland University and hosted by CedarStone Bank and Wilson County Motors.
  • School board leaves fall break for 2016 school year: After much discussion, the Wilson County Board of Education left the annual fall break in place for another school year, but changes are afoot for 2018-19. There are plans to keep the one-week spring break for the 2018-19 school year, but split the usual successive two-week fall break into October and November. Essentially, this adds two days to the usually scheduled three-day Thanksgiving break. A parent survey will be sent out around August 2017 to gauge parents' thoughts on the changes, and the results will be forthcoming.
  • DA clears schools in ethics complaint: Wilson County Schools Director Dr. Donna Wright announced in October the results of the investigation by the District Attorney General into a complaint filed against the Wilson County Board of Education. It alleged mishandling of government property and the renovation of the former Lebanon High School. As a whole, the finding deemed "no illegal acts occurred."
  • Squires OK 35-cent tax hike for raises, teachers too: The Wilson County Commission approved a 35.17-cent property tax increase, which provides 8.1 cents to cover across-the-board teacher pay raises.
  • Schools expansion full throttle: As part of the largest school construction and expansion plan in the history of the Wilson County School System, in October the system unveiled the $2.8-million renovation at Mt. Juliet Middle School with a new auditorium, lighting and expanded stage. Construction began for the $20.7 million project to relocate the system's central office to the former Lebanon High School building. Renovations began on Gladeville Elementary and Tuckers Crossroads. Plans were also approved to renovate Watertown Elementary School. In November, the school system celebrated the groundbreaking for Springdale Elementary School on Central Pike in Mt. Juliet. The new K-5 school will open for the 2017-18 school year. The system also bought land in North Mt. Juliet on North Green Hill and Lebanon roads on which to construct a new Mt. Juliet High School in the not-so-distant future.
  • School board extends Director Dr. Donna Wright's contract through July 2020. Also in November, Wright signed an extension of her contract. She had been the director for three years and said signing the contract allowed her to "continue to do good work" for the system.
  • School system scores well on report card: Grades were released from the Tennessee Department of Education for the system's report card in December. The graduation rate stands at 95.1 percent and exceeds the state average by seven points. Forty-eight percent of graduating seniors scored a 21 or higher on the ACT. The system's attendance rate was recorded at 95.2 percent.
  • WC system welcomed 190 new teachers: July 2016 saw 190 new educators welcomed to the county school system.
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Dr.Donna Wright, education, expansion, Jennifer Elliott, schools, Wilson County
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