Commission addresses PBA criticism of Knox Co School security

Commission addresses PBA criticism of Knox Co School security

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By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -  Knox County Commissioners asking more questions about school security Monday night.

The county school system and the Public Building Authority (PBA) have been under scrutiny amid problems with systems installed at two schools at Hardin Valley Academy and Powell Middle School.  

Commissioners called a public discussion about school security in light of a recent newspaper article that said the PBA accused the Knox County Schools chief and school board members of "misleading" the public about the state of security systems in at least two schools and putting taxpayers at financial risk.  

The PBA oversaw the projects of the Hardin Valley Academy and Powell Middle School. Commissioner asked PBA's director Dale Smith along with school board officials what needed to happen to fix lingering security problems within the school system.  

Commissioner Mike Hammond questioned Smith for a comment made during a recent PBA board meeting, where allegedly Smith warned Superintendent Jim McIntyre at a 2008 meeting, when McIntyre had been on the job just five months, that his property management team was rife with costly cronyism and urged him to conduct a probe.

Smith denied making those comments when asked by Hammond on Monday.

School board officials along with McIntyre have insisted that Knox County Schools are safe despite security deficiencies that have been discovered.

"The school folks are in a very defense posture just frankly, this excessively so, in my observation," said Knox County Chairman Tony Norman.  

Commissioner Amy Broyles said she was becoming irritated by the tension created between PBA and Knox County Schools.

"I don't give a damn about law suits or public perception.  What I care about is the safety of my children when they're at school," said Commissioner Amy Broyles.  

School board Chairperson Karen Carson said she wants the issues to stop being fought in the media.  

"I think what we do is stop feeding this through the media and in closed door meetings. Let's get together and identify what's going on. What's happening is you have two issues melting together," said Carson.

School and safety officials will discuss security at a meeting on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Andrew Johnson Building.  

Carson said the meeting will aim to stop the "finger pointing" and identify the issues that exist and aiming to formulate a long-term plan.  

The meeting will not fall under the Sunshine Law, and will not be open to the public.  

In other news, Commission tabled a resolution calling on state legislators to change the school superintendent to an elected rather than an appointed position.

With a 6-5 vote, a resolution was also tabled aimed at allowing political parties to take part in school board elections.

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