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By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Providing a graduation ceremony for Trousdale County High School’s Class of 2020 was among the topics of discussion during Thursday night’s School Board meeting.

“We understand the importance of a graduation ceremony and how much it means to our families,” said Director of Schools Clint Satterfield. “We want that to take place.”

“We are having a high school graduation,” added TCHS Principal Teresa Dickerson. “Those seniors of the Class of 2020 deserve it, just like all the other classes that have gone through. It may look different… but we want to make it special.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

Board members approved a plan to send surveys to the parents of every senior with three possible dates for graduation. Those dates are May 29, June 26 and July 10. Each of those is a Friday, with the following Saturday as a fallback in case of inclement weather.

When those surveys will be sent out has not been decided as of yet, but the School Board will examine the results and choose a date at its May 14 meeting.

“I think the survey’s a good thing to hear what our parents would like,” said board member Johnny Kerr.

“I think this is a good starting point,” added board chairman Regina Waller. “I feel pretty good about this.”

Seniors will be able to pick up their caps and gowns on Wednesday, April 22 from 2-4 p.m. at the high school.

Where the graduation ceremony will be held remains to be seen, but Dickerson said the football field was one possibility as there would be enough space for social distancing.

The School Board also passed a preliminary budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which Satterfield referred to as “a cotton-picking mess.”

Satterfield said the district had not yet received its Basic Education Program (BEP) estimate from the state, nor what a penny in local property tax will be worth.

In putting the budget together, figures from the current 2019-20 budget were used instead. Those numbers will be adjusted once more information is known.

“We think our revenues will come in better and will help improve this,” Satterfield said.

The budget contains a 2.5-percent raise for non-certified employees and a 2-percent raise for certified staff. Both are contingent respectively on funding from the County Commission and through the BEP.

The proposed budget also estimates a 7 percent increase in insurance costs, $200,000 in capital outlay costs and $95,000 for a new school bus.

The School Board also accepted a bid for replacement of the roof at Jim Satterfield Middle School. The only bid came from A-Lert Roofing, a company based out of Texas that has done previous work for Macon County’s schools.

That bid came in at $989,783 and includes a 10 percent contingency.

During budget negotiations last year, the County Commission agreed to fund the replacement of the JSMS roof in exchange for the schools receiving no new funding for two years.

Board members also approved May 21 as Employee Appreciation Day. The traditional employee banquet is in question because of the pandemic, but Satterfield said something would be done to recognize school employees.

“We appreciate their efforts because this COVID-19 crisis has been stressful for everyone,” Satterfield said.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]