Citing ‘legal advice’, school board chair adjourns meeting moments after it starts

Board of education members Tracy Bowling, left, and Damon Jackey, spoke to the audience after board chair started, then abruptly adjourned Thursday night’s special-called meeting.

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023 — The Nelson County Board of Education called a special meeting for Thursday, but the meeting ended just as it was getting started.

Board chair Diane Berry opened the meeting with the usual Pledge of Allegiance, then advised she was adjourning the meeting.

“Upon legal advice, this meeting will be adjourned,” Berry said, with a bang of her gavel.

Someone reminded Berry that she need a motion, a second, and a vote by the board in order to adjourn the meeting.

Board member Amanda Deaton seconded Berry’s motion to adjourn. Deaton, Berry and David Norman voting to adjourn, while Tracy Bowling and Damon Jackey voting against adjournment.

The adjournment shocked some members of the audience, who were expecting to see the board approve a resolution to allow the district finance committee to authorize bonds for the construction of the Thomas Nelson High School community campus project.

“What the hell is the matter with you all?” one audience member asked after Berry adjourned the meeting.

Berry, Norman and Deaton left the board room, while Damon Jackey and Tracy Bowling spent more than 20 minutes talking to the crowd and answering questions.

“Yes, this meeting was called by the board chair just 48 hours ago,” she noted. “I want the parents and students across this district to understand that we have your back,” Bowling said. “We will work to make sure all students from every corner of our district will have equal access.”

She received a standing ovation from the audience.

Bowling asked the parents and educators at the meeting to keep showing up at the meetings.

“While your voices maybe aren’t being listened to, we hear you. You guys are the numbers. You have to keep us accountable as a board.”

“We have been working for 20 months,” she said. “Only a small faction of our community is speaking right now.”

Damon Jackey said that a lot of misinformation is being spread via social media.

FUNDING FROM “GROWTH NICKELS”. Jackey explained that the financing for district facility construction projects come from three different “growth nickels” approved by previous school boards that actually amount to 16.8 cents of the district’s entire tax rate.

The revenue from those growth nickels can only be used for facility construction; they cannot be used for teacher salaries or other expenses outside school construction.

The money those growth nickels generate are collected and set aside for bricks and mortar construction projects, even if the board never approves another construction project or school upgrade.


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