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Director of Schools breaks down data for Gibson County Special school board

By Crystal Burns

 Eddie Pruett is a bit of a data nerd who likes a good spreadsheet.

Each year when the Tennessee Department of Education releases Report Card information for school districts across the state, the Gibson County Special School District Director of Schools, a former biology teacher, inputs his students’ scores and information into Excel (spreadsheet software program) for easy comparison with rest of the state. He checks a dozen different areas to come up with what, he freely admits, is his unofficial, overall ranking.

“That’s a Mr. Pruett ranking,” Pruett told the school board, after breaking down the data at the district’s Jan. 10 meeting. “It was just for me to look at.”

Pruett was pleased with what he saw. Comparing overall success rate, as well success rates in math, English Language Arts (ELA) science and social studies, overall Tennessee Value Added Assessment Scores (TVAAS), as well as literacy, numeracy, science and social studies TVAAS, chronically out of school percentage, Ready Graduate percentage, average ACT composite, graduation rate, postsecondary enrollment, total enrollment, minority students (classified by the state as Black, Hispanic, Native American), economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities, Pruett devised a formula that ranks GCSSD at No. 8.

Williamson Co., Maryville City, Arlington, Germantown Municipal, Collierville Municipal, Greeneville City and Barlett made up the Top 7, with Johnson City and Trousdale Co. rounding out the Top 10, according to Pruett.

“What that tells me is that our folks do a tremendous job, and our kids do an awesome job,” Pruett said. “It’s pretty amazing to see all the fantastic things that happen every day in our district.”

Pruett took the opportunity to thank school board members for their contributions to students’ success, noting that the last week of January is designated as School Board Appreciation Week in Tennessee. The district donates to Gibson County Imagination Library in honor of each board member to mark the week.

“We certainly appreciate everything you all do,” Pruett said.

Energy-efficient lighting upgrade – The board awarded a bid for energy-efficient lighting upgrades at all schools except South Gibson County Elementary School, which has efficient lights, to Excel Energy Group in the amount of $778,182. Director of Finance & Operations Terry Cunningham explained that the upgrades would be financed over eight years at a rate of 3.25 percent with semi-annual payments. He said the money the district saves, projected to be $123,000 annually, by using the more efficient lights would offset the payments.

The company plans to start the project around April 1 and should complete it in four to five weeks. The crew will begin work at 4 p.m. and work through the night to keep from disrupting classes.

Indoor turf – The board approved a bid from Kodiak Sports, LLC for indoor turf in the amount of $33,173. The turf will be installed in the old Medina Elementary School gym to be used by sports teams, especially baseball and softball, in South Gibson County schools.

“I’ve had a lot of phone calls and conversations about the folks on the south end [of the district] not having a place they can practice indoors,” Pruett said. The most cost beneficial idea was to tear down the old bleachers and refinish the gym floor and install turf. “That’s going to save us a lot money, and it’s going to give them a pretty good place to practice.”

The district is responsible for installation.


REVIEWING DATA – (from left) Gibson County Special School District (GCSSD) Director of Schools Eddie Pruett reviews testing data with school board members Tom Lannom, Charles Scott, Treva Maitland, Eddie Watkins, Benny Boals and Dana Welch Thursday night in Dyer. Pruett devised a formula to create unofficial rankings to show local stakeholders how GCSSD students stack up to their peers across the state. Pruett’s overall ranking showed GCSSD at No. 8. “That’s a Mr. Pruett ranking,” he told the board. “It was just something for me to look at.”

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