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Four Year Extension For White County Director Of Schools

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Four Year Extension For White County Director Of Schools

After more than two hours of public comments and debate, the White County School Board agreed to a contract extension for Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger.

The contract will run from January 1, 2024, through December 31, 2027. Much of the discussion from the board revolved around why Dronebarger needed the contract renewed six months early.

“I’ve been proud to serve the community for 26 years,” Dronebarger said. “I want to end my career here, so that was part of the reasoning for wanting to do this early and make sure that I was protecting my future and the future of my family. Just excited for the opportunity to do that.”

There was extended conversation about amending the term length of the original contract proposal, limiting the contract to a one-year deal. Board Member Sherrie Stone said the shorter term would allow an almost entirely new board to choose its Director of Schools once they are appointed. Ultimately, the board approved the four-year renewal of Dronebarger’s current contract.

“I feel like I’ve served the community well and I want to continue to do that,” Dronebarger said. “I’m very proud of the teachers and the schools and our school family. Proud of our community and just want to be a part of that, so wanted to make sure that we had the opportunity to lock that down.”

The contract renewal did not come without opposition. Of some 10 White County locals who took the podium, several of them were passionately against the extension. Local Jamie Winnett passed out copies of the minutes of a 2022 deposition in which she claims Dronebarger neglected to protect a special needs student from sexual abuse.

“Fact, there is a trial that is set to begin in January 2024 regarding special needs, nonverbal, autistic children being subjected to sexual abuse and neglect at Woodland Park Elementary School,” Winnett said. “Fact, people have been fired that worked in the school system for standing up and reporting abuse and neglect.”

The majority of the speakers, however, had positive comments about Dronebarger’s conduct throughout his tenure. White County School Supervisor Farrah Griffith and UCDD Executive Director Mark Farley called Dronebarger a man of fairness, consistency, and principles.

The full contract can be found on the White County Schools website.

In other business, the board approved a Community Eligibility Program that will provide free lunches for White County high schoolers. The elementary and middle schoolers already had access to this.

The board also approved a partnership with Stellar Therapy Services, an organization that will file Medicaid claims for the school. This will allow the school system to be reimbursed for services performed by school nurses.


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