Rhea County School Board members, left to right, are Dr. Henry Reid, Past President Chip Pendergrass, Dennis Akins, New Vice President BJ McCoy, Wayne Cox, New President Perry Massengill, Janie Graham and Harold “Bimbo” McCawley
The Rhea County School Board has elected a new chair and vice-chair for the upcoming year.
Third District Board Member Perry Massengill was unanimously elected by the board for a one-year term. Hel was nominated by board member BJ McCoy with a second by Harold “Bimbo” McCawley.
Following his appointment, Board Member Wayne Cox named current President Chip Pendergrass. However, he quickly informed council members that he would respectfully decline the mandate.
Board member McCawley nominated BJ McCoy as Vice President, which was unanimously approved.
Prior to the vote, President Pendergrass welcomed new board members Dennis Akins and Janie Graham. Both were elected in August with the re-election of John Mincy, Perry Massengill and Dr Henry Reid.
The council spent time discussing the safety of the school system. The board’s safety and security committee has met with all school resource officers as well as custodial and office staff at county schools.
Sixth District board member Wayne Cox, who is also a sergeant with the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department, was quick to address the issue. He said: “We (OSR) sleep with security in mind. These are our children. The sooner we can secure these schools, the better.
Bryant Collins informed the council about the Safe Schools grant the county has received to work on safety issues.
Board member Cox said, “We don’t have to wait 30 days or a year. We need to get things done in the next 12-15 days.
Jessie Messimer, director of schools, said one solution to the problem could be to restrict some of the entries into the facilities. “We have to have them check the fire codes and see if there are any doors that we can just close and secure that way.
Mr McCawley said the entrances and exits were established for a school with around 1,500 students. “Even though we’re not at that stage right now, we’re growing.”
Principal Messimer pointed out that some of the school doors can no longer get parts to fix them. ‘Some are 1974 era doors’ He informed the council that staff are already considering replacements and once the study is complete they may call a special meeting to determine what needs to be done.