Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times The Macon County Board of Education approved to begin the bid process for new phone systems after storm damage interfered with the existing equipment at their meeting held June 27. Pictured are: Macon County Board of Education member Bryan Nichols (left) and board chair Jeff Harper.

Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times

The Macon County Board of Education approved to begin the bid process for new phone systems after storm damage interfered with the existing equipment at their meeting held June 27.

Pictured are: Macon County Board of Education member Bryan Nichols (left) and board chair Jeff Harper.

The Macon County Board of Education approved to advertise for bids to upgrade the central office's phone system due to recent storm damage during its meeting held last Thursday evening.

"Two weeks ago, (after) one of our electrical storms, we came in and had no phone service," Macon County Director of Schools Tony Boles said. "The phones can ring in, but we have no voicemail, and (North Central Telephone Cooperative) has no cards in order to repair that because the system is obsolete."

Boles said that North Central is in the process of finding a cost estimate for the upgrades, noting that each school in the district would also need to switch to the new phone system because they currently use the same model of phone as the central office.

"With this system, we'll be able to (call) direct lines (at each school)," Boles said. "We can dial (employees') extensions, and they'll still be able to dial our extensions here. With the voicemail, you'll be able to see the date and time."

Boles noted that central office employees have also lost the ability to record answering machine messages along with their voicemail systems.

"Supervisors here rely on their voicemail when they're out of the office," Boles said. "And we're having to go with the old paper-and-pencil message."

The board also held a work session immediately following the meeting, which included further discussion of the school resource officer (SRO) contract for the 2019-20 school year previously deferred to July.

Under the contract, the board would be responsible for financing two SRO positions currently funded through property tax. The board currently pays for the other SROs in the district.

"I said something last time about tabling this until this week," board chair Jeff Harper said. "The only thing I'm asking ... to be added to this is that I'd like for a school resource officer to be present at every meeting we have, whether we're here, at a school or having a work session."

Boles said requiring SROs at board meetings could also help them meet hours lost during summer break.

"They have to work ball games to make up their hours to get their pay for being off during the summer," Boles said. "Sometimes, they'll go off to ball games at Red Boiling or the junior high as extra where they aren't necessarily needed, so those could be the ones that come to board meetings and work sessions."

Harper added that with nine SROs in the district, they could rotate board meetings monthly.

"You're not looking at one of them having to come more than a couple times," he said."Then when we come back down to November, we can start over with the one that came first."

Boles said he has spoken with Macon County High School's SRO, Terry Atkins, and the two determined the change would not cause any problems.

The board also discussed making adjustments to several of its policies, including one involving the usage of video cameras on school buses.

"The Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA) recommended policy ... what it includes is that a parent shall now have the right, if their child is involved in an altercation on the bus, to view that footage in the presence of the director of schools and/or his designee," Boles said. "(Transportation Supervisor) Rick (Taylor) and I will both be present when they look at that video, and we only have to maintain that video material for 30 days."

Graduation requirements for seniors were also brought up, with a recently-passed state bill requiring seniors to pass, rather than complete, a U.S. civics test that the schools have been administering for two to three years.

"We make the test up," Boles said. "It's 20 questions, and so many of them have to come from the immigration civics test. We give it to 11th grade in their government class, and now, we'll have to keep a record they passed it."

Another policy the board discussed, which would have to be added rather than amended, addresses students from military families enrolling in the Macon County School District.

The policy would allow children to enroll in the district if they have a parent being relocated to Tennessee on military orders. Families would need to provide documentation that they would be residing in the district, along with proof of residence 10 days after enrollment.

The board approved the following items on the agenda:

New business

Approved general purpose line-item budget amendment No. 5 for the 2018-19 school yearApproved school nutrition line-item budget amendment No. 3 for the 2018-19 school yearApproved to advertise bids to upgrade the telephone system for the central officeApproved the differentiated pay plan for the 2019-20 school yearApproved Fairlane Elementary School fundraiser request The board discussed the following items at its work session:

School resource officer (SRO) contractWestside Elementary School bleachers bidUpdate board policy 1.804 -- Alcohol and Drugs in WorkplaceUpdate board policy 1.406 -- MinutesUpdate board policy 2.403 -- Surplus PropertyUpdate board policy 6.308 -- Bus Safety and ConductCreate board policy 6.506 -- Students from Military FamiliesUpdate board policies 1.901, 1.903, 1.905 and 1.906 -- Charter SchoolsUpdate board policy 5.200 -- Separation Practices for Tenured TeachersUpdate board policy 5.201 -- Separation Practices for Non-Tenured TeachersUpdate board policy 5.305 -- Family Medical LeaveUpdate board policy 1.803 -- Tobacco-Free SchoolsUpdate board policy 4.605 -- Graduation RequirementsUpdate board policy 6.200 -- Attendance.