JACKSBORO—Campbell County Board of Education Chairman Rector Miller expects the board will vote unanimously in favor of extending the contract of Director of Schools Donnie Poston when it meets again on Feb. 11.
Poston, who has served in his current position since April 2011, recently announced his intention to continue as director of schools for another year.
“He didn’t ask for anything more than that,” said Miller, who lauded Poston for bringing integrity back to the position.
During a public forum held Saturday afternoon at Jacksboro Middle School, Poston fielded questions and received feedback from nine of the 10 members of the board.
“This gives the board an opportunity to share opinions,” said Miller.
Poston has spent 42 years in the field of education. He served as principal of Valley View Elementary for many years and more recently as headmaster of the Christian Academy of Campbell County before taking the reins of the county public school system.
“There’s one thing I can say about you,” board member Johnny Creekmore of Jellico said to Poston. “You’ve not brought any shame to this county. We’ve not always seen things eye to eye, but I feel like you’ve always had the kids’ best interest at heart.”
Board member Scott Hill asked Poston how the board could help him continue progress made by the school system during the past year.
“When you accepted this job, it was a mess. We know that,” said Hill of LaFollette. “The 10 of us sitting here have as great responsibility just like you. What can we, as a board, do to help you and make this education system better?” The 10 of us are not always going to agree, but we want you to know you’ve got support. I’m thankful for you and the direction you’ve gotten us going in.”
“Whoever goes in, whether it’s you or somebody else, if they support the kids, I’ll support them,” said board member J.L. “Sarge” Collins of Jellico.
Collins then asked Poston if he would go before the county commission to request more funding. “If I have to,” replied Poston.
Board members appear united in their insistence on a bigger school budget next year.
“This chairman is going to go with the director, if that’s what this board wants, and we’re going to stand up to the funding body,” said Miller. “If the county commission does not give the school department additional funding, we can’t fund it.”
County Finance Director Jeff Marlow recently told the board of education it could be facing an $800,000 shortfall going into the 2014-15 school year.
“Money in the school department is more wisely spent today than it ever has been in Campbell County,” said Miller.
Board members came up with a list of things they would like to see soon in the county schools system if given additional funding. Those ideas range from more advanced placement classes for both high schools to band and Junior ROTC for Jellico High School.
“We’ve been trying to play catch up for 52 years,” said board member Eugene Lawson. “I wonder when we’re gonna get there?”
Lawson passed along teacher complaints about the way they are evaluated on student test scores. Lawson also said he felt Marlow had too much control over the annual school budget.
“The thing that scares me the most, Mr. Lawson, is testing is on target to pick up steam,” said Poston. “I’m not a strong proponent of testing kids, however that’s the way we determine progress. I may be dead and gone, but if we will just keep in place some of the things that have been done the past two years, we will get there. It’s not about a person, it’s about a system.”