JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – Washington County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a resolution calling on local lawmakers to allow locally elected bodies – especially school boards – to make their own decisions on important matters.
The resolution came from the health, education and welfare committee.
Commissioner Jim Wheeler proposed the “Resolution in Support of Local Decision-Making in Providing Learning Opportunities in Local Communities” at the August 5 meeting of the Health Committee, the education and well-being.
“I just felt it was time for the committee to consider whether to speak out and ask our legislative delegation to support decisions about schools made at the local level,” Wheeler told News Channel 11 earlier. Monday.
Wheeler reiterated this reasoning at the committee meeting and with almost no discussion the Commissioners adopted it on a 14-0 vote.
The HEW meeting came three days after Tennessee House President Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said he could ask Gov. Bill Lee to call a special session if Tennessee school districts impose masks or were closing due to the spread of COVID. Sexton suggested at the time that the state could withhold funding for districts that imposed such mandates or enacted e-learning.
“When the head of the House tells all of the public school systems to do something one way or that they will call a special session, it disrupts the local decision-making process,” Wheeler said.
The resolution praised the local delegation – Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) and Reps. Rebecca Alexander (R-Jonesborough) and Tim Hicks (R-Gray) – for their “service and leadership” and “Willingness to hear and work with local governments and our citizens.
But he mentions “difficult positions” that local school boards may face in the coming months to provide in-person learning for K-12 students and asks lawmakers “to help local authorities make decisions. independent from the state, making local governments autonomous. rule as much as possible.
And he asks the local delegation – Hicks and Alexander both signed a letter supporting the potential need for a special session – not to support any legislation “that would hamper the ability of local school boards to make the best possible decisions to keep healthy Washington County students. , and to provide in-person learning opportunities wherever possible in our county.
The committee passed the resolution minutes after Washington County School Principal Jerry Boyd provided an update on the continuing rise of the COVID system among students and teachers.
Boyd said he hopes the recently imposed mask warrant and other updated protocols will soon have a positive impact on the trajectory of COVID in schools.