The Clinch Valley community of Hawkins County has borne the brunt of the aftermath of the February rains.

On Thursday night, Clinch School also made history, becoming the first school in Tennessee to adopt an extended day four-day schedule for students and teachers. Clinch was granted an exception by Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn to begin a four day a week schedule for the rest of the current semester from 7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. starting Monday, a 90-minute per day extension.

The semester ends Dec. 19.

“Data has shown that student achievement in four days have stayed the same or improved, especially in math,” Clinch Principal Denise McKee said. “Teacher and student attendance have improved. We feel pretty confident that this will not affect instruction for our students. In fact, with the road closures, teachers have had to take a whole day off for appointments just because of the amount of travel time.”

McKee said there are 25 states in the country that are using the four-day model.

“We would be the first public school in Tennessee to do this,” McKee said. “I think it will be a great way to track data as to what the difference in fuel costs, milk purchases and so forth.”

“Denise is committed to collecting as much data during this short time period as possible,” Director of Schools Matt Hixson said. “We’d like to do that when we have these creative circumstances because you never know when we may have to look at creative solutions down the road. If there is a time where we need to reduce staff in the future, worst case scenario, it’s good to have data to stand on that says, ‘Hey, we can pull off a four-day work week, we can do things with reduced time during the course of a school year that accounts for a high level of instruction.’”

Board action wasn’t necessary for this action to be implemented, but Hixson wanted the board to act on this to ensure everybody was together on the action. The motion passed unanimously by a 6-0 vote.

Doors at Clinch will open at 7:10 a.m.

Breakfast will be served from 7:10 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Afternoon bus riders will depart Clinch at 3:50 p.m. All students will receive late afternoon snacks. Classroom teachers will send home individual schedules that include lunch, related arts and RTI times.

Rains in February washed away a section of State Highway 70 across Clinch Mountain between Eidson and Rogersville which usually has 1,554 vehicles traveling it daily. That project is scheduled to have one lane open by October.

Add to that, a section of State Route 66 near the Hancock County border is also closed due to another slide. Repair work on that project is slated to have at least one lane of traffic open in November.

Both projects are having soil nails installed to stabilize the roadways.

Many of the teachers at Clinch live out of the area and must take detours to get to the school.

McKee lives in Bluff City and it takes her more than two hours to travel to the school. She stays in Rogersville during the week and commutes home on weekends.

Three student representatives were also announced for the board of education at the meeting. They are Hannah Lamb of Clinch, Tyler Lawson of Volunteer, and Cooper Boatman of Cherokee.

In order for one to serve as a student representative on the Board of Education, a student must have a 19 or better score on the American College Test, a 3.0 grade point average, no discipline referrals, good standing of attendance, a petition signed by 15 or more students, a member of the rising senior class, three faculty representatives.

Lamb, from Thorn Hill, is a senior at Clinch. She enjoys spending time with her family. She wants to attend Walters State Community College to major in nursing and to work with children. When asked where she wanted to live, Lamb said she would want to live in Hawaii, where it is peaceful.

Lawson, is enrolled at Northeast State Community College while a senior at Volunteer, majoring in industrial maintenance. A supporter of Volunteer athletics, he is leader of the student cheering section at sporting events. He serves as treasurer of the Student Government Association, which he said was one of the greatest experiences of his life. Lawson owns and operates a successful lawn mowing business. Lawson also works at the Farmer’s Livestock Market in Greeneville on Saturdays and also helps to operate his family’s cattle farm.

Boatman is the student council, senior class and debate team presidents. He is member of HOSA, Beta Club, Heritage Lites Youth Service Organization, the tennis team and a member of the First Baptist Church of Rogersville youth group.

Boatman is a clinical intern student for Ballad Health and was selected to attend the 2018 Tennessee Governor’s School for International Studies at the University of Memphis.

He was selected as a delegate to Tennessee Boys State by the American Legion in 2019 and attended the Tennessee Electric Cooperative’s Washington Youth Tour as a Holston Electric Cooperative essay winner. Boatman plans to attend medical school to become an emergency room doctor.

The board also approved establishment of a disciplinary hearing authority.

Middle and High School Supervisor Thomas Floyd will serve as chairman, with members to include Attendance Supervisor Greg Sturgill and all principals and assistant principals at the county schools.

Officers were also elected for the 2019-20 school year at Thursday’s meeting. Chris Christian was elected chairman of the board, replacing Bob Larkins, who was elected chairman pro-tem. Debbie Shedden was reelected vice-chairman.

Shedden will also serve as the board’s representative on the Tennessee Legislative Network.