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DCHS to Modify Credit Requirements for Graduation

July 8, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

DeKalb County High School is modifying the number of credits required for graduation.

During Tuesday night’s monthly meeting, the Board of Education granted a request by DCHS Principal Randy Jennings to change the graduation credit requirements.

For the Class of 2021, seniors will be required to earn 33 credits for graduation; 31 credits for the Class of 2022, 29 credits for the Class of 2023, and 27 credits starting with the Class of 2024 and going forward from there.

In a letter to the Board of Education and Director of Schools, Jennings said modifying the number of credits will not reduce the number of courses a student will be required to complete for graduation but it will allow administrators to better track credits and make it easier for students to understand.

“Currently a student receives a full credit for Algebra 1A (first semester) and Algebra 1B (second semester) which then counts as two credits for the Algebra 1 class. Under the new system, a student will receive a half credit each semester for a total of one full credit for Algebra 1. There are several core classes that will be transitioning to the one credit for the entire class versus two credits for the entire class. This will in turn reduce the number of credits a student will need for graduation,” said Jennings.

“Each class over the next four years will have a different number of credits that will be required for graduation. Starting with the graduating class of 2024 and each class after the number of credits will be the same at 27,” added Jennings.

Meanwhile in his monthly report on personnel, Director Patrick Cripps said the following persons have been hired since last month:

Cheslie Bryant, Northside Elementary School Secretary/Receptionist
Rayanna Chapman, teacher at Smithville Elementary School
Laura Daniel, Librarian at DeKalb Middle School
Joseph Green, teacher at DCHS
Ann Griffey, teacher at DCHS
Gabby Robinson, teacher at DCHS
Brooklyn Shirah, teacher at Northside Elementary School
Don Whitt, music teacher at DeKalb Middle School/DeKalb West School

Amy Lattimore was granted a leave of absence as requested

Emily Bartlett, educational assistant at Smithville Elementary School to teacher
Amanda Goodwin, educational assistant to SPED teacher at Northside Elementary School
Rachel Hernandez, SPED teacher at DeKalb Middle School to DeKalb West School
Tamera Judkins, Northside Elementary School Receptionist to Attendance Clerk
Elizabeth Miller, Northside Elementary School teacher to Librarian
Natasha Vaughn, SPED teacher at DeKalb West School to DeKalb Middle School
Christie Young, teacher from Smithville Elementary to DeKalb Middle School

Vicky Hawker-retirement
Linda Moser-retirement
Macy Nokes-resignation
Allison Taylor-resignation
Ginger Wenger-retirement

UCHRA Continues Commodities Distribution During Pandemic

July 8, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) has made adjustments to keep clients, staff, and volunteers safe while providing non-perishable items to those in need.

Between April and June 2020, UCHRA’s commodities program has served more than 190,790 pounds of food worth more than $272,600 to 5,144 eligible households.

“This program is especially important to the citizens of the Upper Cumberland; now more than ever due to the effects of COVID-19 on our local businesses,” said Rebecca Harris, UCHRA Deputy Director and Transportation/Services Director.

UCHRA has implemented a series of safety protocols to ensure limited contact during the pandemic. These processes allow for limited in-person contact while ensuring that families in need continue to receive emergency food and nutrition assistance. For signups, clients can call into their local office and provide a staff member with the information needed for approval to receive commodities. The pickup process allows clients to drive up, check in, and have the commodities loaded into their vehicle by an attendant.

UCHRA’s commodities program distributes non-perishable food items to low-income families who reside in the region’s 14-county area. Funded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the commodities program provides emergency food and nutrition assistance to low-income families.

To qualify for commodities assistance, certain eligibility requirements must be met. The recipient may show proof of eligibility for one or more of the following means-tested programs: SNAP, Families First, Supplemental Security Income, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), or documented residence in public housing. Another option is for the recipient to complete a signed self-declaration of income showing that the total amount of household income is below 185 percent of the current federal poverty income level.

The commodities program is funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee. For more information about UCHRA or the agency’s commodities program, contact your local UCHRA office or call (931) 528-1127. A list of commodities distribution events can also be found on the UCHRA Facebook page at

About Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency

The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) was established by the Tennessee General
Assembly in 1973 to be the delivery system for human resources in the fourteen counties of the region. The programs operated by UCHRA initially included job training and transportation. During ensuing years, the UCHRA has expanded to supply a wide range of services that use a combination of funds from federal, state and local organizations.

School Board Budgets Pay Raises for Teachers and Other Staff but Less than Original Plans

July 8, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

Pay raises and funds for purchasing land to build a new elementary school highlight the proposed 2020-21 budget adopted by the Board of Education Tuesday night.

Under the plan, teachers and other certified staff will get a $1,000 pay raise while non certified employees will be given a $500 raise. This is less than what was included in the original plan adopted in May ($2,000 raise for teachers and $1,000 for support staff) but the board had to revisit its budget after the Governor and Legislature cut spending in the 2020-21 state budget due to the impact on revenues because of COVID-19.

During a work session prior to Tuesday night’s regular monthly School Board meeting, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps announced that the state has cut $250,000 in Basic Education Program (BEP) funding from the proposed budget but that the school system can absorb the loss by not filling the positions of four teachers who recently retired. Cripps said those positions are currently not needed due to fewer students. According to Cripps, the school system can still afford to fund the pay raises locally without help from the state and still have a healthy fund balance (reserves) of at least $800,000 by the end of the fiscal year next June.

The board was presented two options, a new budget with and without the pay raises. The Board chose to adopt the budget with the raises. Director Cripps also floated the idea of giving bonuses rather than raises, but the board opted for raises instead of bonuses and Cripps agreed.

Funds are also included in the school budget for the purchase of 24.5 acres of property on North Congress Boulevard near Northside Elementary School for construction of a new pre-K to 2nd grade elementary school. The price is $18,000 per acre for a total of $441,000. The purchase is subject to a favorable TDOT traffic study. The school budget includes $500,000 from the BEP technology fund to cover the cost.

The new revised proposed 2020-21 school budget will be presented for approval by the county budget committee Thursday night, July 9 at 6 p.m. at the courthouse. If it gets the okay there, the budget will be forwarded to the full county commission for adoption along with budgets for all other county departments on July 27.

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