The Macon County Board of Education discussed each member's self-evaluations at its Feb. 28 meeting, followed by a work session to go over upcoming agenda items.

During the work session, Macon County Director of Schools Tony Boles updated attendees on the cafeteria expansion at Macon County High School.

"(The pavilion addition) is scheduled to be completed March 19," Boles said. "The corridor, we've had some issues with water coming in, and we're withholding our last payment until they get it right."

Boles said water had pooled from the spout closest to the door, and that he noticed an opening that water may have come in from under the door as well. The board is looking to avoid water buildup and make sure the flooring is resilient.

Transportation Department Supervisor Rick Taylor also updated the board and attendees on the impact of an updated bus discipline policy passed in December.

"Since we changed the policy and got stricter rules for them to go by, and I think the principals will agree, things have improved," Taylor said. "(Lafayette Elementary School Principal Kristen) Hix called me the other day asking if something was wrong, because she hadn't talked to me in a couple days."

The amended bus policy involves the transportation director, director of schools and principal in determining punishment for misconduct. It was implemented to reduce animosity between parents and bus drivers by engaging other parties.

During regular session, the board primarily focused on its self-evaluations.

"We ask everybody in our system to be evaluated, so I think it's no different that we should be evaluating ourselves," board member Rebekah Tuttle said. "It's important to know what our strengths and weaknesses are, because if we don't, we can't correct weaknesses and focus on strengths."

Tuttle said her strength comes from bringing an outside perspective as someone not employed in education, and that her weakness is lacking time to meet regularly with members of her community (Districts 5 and 6).

"You really understand things better when you talk to people one-on-one, and sometimes, I feel like I don't have enough hours in my day to invest," Tuttle said. "I strive for opportunities to come along to things and ask questions (of constituents), and I think, as a whole, the board works very well together."

Board chairperson Jeff Harper (Districts 7 and 8) said that one of his personal goals moving forward is to spend more time with school employees and familiarize himself with their curriculum.

"We just need to remember our role as a board," Harper said. "To remember what our job is, and focus on what our job is ... our main thing is making sure we're up to date on policies and that our director does his job, and I truly think we do well all the way around."

Board member Bryan Nichols (representing Districts 9 and 10) said his weakness comes from not having family members involved in education, making him less familiar with the ins and outs of operations at each school.

"This is like a huge tiger by the tail," Nichols said. "We've got hundreds of teachers and employees, 4,000 students. I know everything that goes on at MCHS (Macon County High School), where my daughter is a junior, but I have no idea what goes on at Westside (Elementary) and Red Boiling Springs (School), or at Fairlane (Elementary)."

However, Nichols' ownership of Macon Iron Fitness allows him to connect with the community in a different way, which he sees as the biggest advantage to his work on the school board.

"I have hundreds of members that are high-school kids, teachers and parents," Nichols said. "Probably every day or two, one of them will come in and tell me something or ask me something. I think it makes me a lot more accessible, because I don't work for somebody else, and they know where to find me."

On the other hand, board member Jeff Goad (Districts 1 and 2) is married to a teacher and has a daughter enrolled in the school system. Although that helps his familiarity with the district, he also has to keep that relationship in mind when the time comes for a discussion or vote.

"Sometimes, you have to step back for a minute and take the personal connection out to make the right decision," Goad said. "That leads to my strengths as well, because I've got a 9-year-old little girl that will tell me everything that's going on from pre-K all the way to the high school. She's the Facebook of Red Boiling Springs."

Board member Wayne Marsh (Districts 3 and 4) said that he aims to spend more time one-on-one with constituents and district employees as well and cited his connection with family members in the school system as his biggest strength.

"I have several nieces, nephews and uncles in the school system," Marsh said. "They see where I put my focus, but even if it makes them mad, I still do whatever I feel is right."

Macon County Director of Schools Tony Boles sees the board's cooperation as its strongest point.

"You all work well together ... you work for what you've got and for what's best for the students in Macon County Schools," Boles said. "That doesn't happen at a lot of schools. They will divide. They will split, and the board meetings become a fiasco. But you all set your sights on what's best for the students."

The board approved the following items on the agenda:

New business:

Approve to advertise bids for ice cream

Approve fundraiser request for MCHS project graduation

Discuss board self-evaluation

The board discussed the following items during its work session (no action is taken on items discussed during work sessions):

Hand rails on the bleachers at Red Boiling Springs School, MCHS and Macon County Junior High School gyms

Replace chair back seats at MCHS gym

Replace HVAC units at MCHS

One to one school at RBS

Project graduation donation

Revise board policies 1.803 (Tobacco-Free Schools) and 4.209 (Alternative Credit Options)

Construction update

Bus discipline update

Other capital projects for 2019-20 budget