Knox Co. Schools Board meets to continue discussion about on-campus security

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The conversation about gathering community input on security in Knox County Schools continues.

The KCS Board of Education met for a work session on June 2 to revisit a conversation they had during a May 19 meeting, where the board agreed to hire a facilitator to come in and help lead the conversation about a Memorandum of Agreement that puts security in schools.

On May 26, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs sent a letter to the school board chairwoman saying he “strongly opposes using taxpayer dollars to pay an outside consulting firm to tell the district what every Knox County parent already knows; law enforcement officers are a necessity in schools.”

Some board members made clear in Wednesday’s meeting the goal was not to have a conversation about whether or not law enforcement belongs in schools. It’s to invite the community into the conversation so they can have a say in what safety and security in schools looks like to them.

Representatives Watson and Owen both agreed that they didn’t think the board had the skill set to do the type of facilitation that was needed.

“A good facilitator, all they’re doing is moving the conversation forward,” Watson said.

Mayor Jacobs was not the only one who sent a letter opposing the facilitator. Board members say they received five letters from different community groups and leaders.

Even after the board agreed to hiring a facilitator, it wasn’t until the letters came out that some board members expressed concerns about that decision.

Representatives Betsy Henderson and Mike McMillan both said they agreed with Mayor Jacobs’ letter.

“I am in support of Mayor Jacobs’ letter. I think we were each elected to be a voice for our district. KCS has meetings and takes public input all the time so I just personally find a facilitator unnecessary in this situation,” Henderson said.

As far as cost goes, Representative Watson says hiring a facilitator would be a drop in the bucket compared to other expenses. His prediction is that it would cost less than 50 cents per student, which would total to less than 50 thousand dollars.

Wednesday night’s meeting was a work session so no votes were cast. The school board meets again on June 9.

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