14 Students Choose Online Only At Lookout Mountain School; Some Teaching Will Be Outdoors

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - by Gail Perry

With school beginning, there are a lot of changes, Commissioner of Schools Brooke Pippenger told the Lookout Mountain, Tn., Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon. Changes from the Hamilton County Board of Education have been coming daily and different information is coming to the school throughout the day, she said after spending some time at Lookout Mountain School. The school will open using Hamilton County’s hybrid phase 2 plan, which will include both in person and online learning.

This will familiarize children with the virtual classrooms in case COVID-19 causes the school to go to all online learning in the future. There are 14 children whose parents chose the option of all online classes for the whole semester.


Classes will be divided into two groups, one will be in person Monday and Tuesday, the other group will be in person on Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays will be used to clean the building. Online learning will be used for the three days that each group will be home. The arrangement will be evaluated on Aug. 28. If all goes well, said the commissioner, all in-person classes may be held. A positive note, she said, is that the classes will be small.


Khaki Wakefield has been working with Principal Ruth White to identify outdoor learning areas. The football field will be used and sectioned off to keep children apart. And some of the tents that are used for the carnival will be used for classes. 


Fundraising for the school will be a challenge this year since the Lookout Mountain Carnival cannot be held and there will be no coupon books which traditionally raise money for technology. The LMS PTA Annual Fund helps provide the school with related arts classes such as music, art, P.E. and the science and reading labs. The annual fund will be very important this year, said Commissioner Pippenger, and the best way that people can support the school is with a donation to the PTA from the community at large, she said.


Another positive, said the commissioner, was the fifth-grade graduation that was held virtually on Saturday. Each of the 30 children sent in videos that were compiled. Rick Dockery was the speaker, and a drive-through graduation was held where each graduate was announced and given a diploma. The fifth grade class gave the school a new bike rack with each of their names on it.


Commissioner of Parks and Playgrounds David Paschall said the situation at The Commons remains the same as in July, with the playground and tennis courts open. Social distancing is still required and hand sanitizer is available. The playground is thoroughly cleaned twice a week, before and after weekends, and the cleaning schedule will continue after school starts. New nets have been installed on the tennis courts and the next big project is to replace rotted railroad ties that are around pea gravel areas at Johnston Field. Farther down the road, the plan is to raise the level of the dugouts at Johnston and Dockery Fields to elevate them above water after heavy rain.


The first practice for soccer will be Aug. 17-21. The season is planned to run through early October, but that depends on the number of virus cases. Last there were 422 children who participated in soccer. This year 281 have signed up so far. Commissioner Paschall said that Chattanooga FC players are helping out with the practices. Flag football is still being planned but is on hold temporarily to see how the beginning of school works out at LMS and Fairyland Elementary.


Statistics from the Police and Fire Department in July were read by Commissioner of Police and Fire Jim Bentley. They show that 192 calls were made to the police, there was one assist citizen call and 26 calls made to 911. Police patrolled 5,193 miles and checked nine false burglar alarms. There were 92 traffic stops and one parking citation given in July. Three arrests were made - two due to traffic violations and one for assault with threats. Officers checked out 19 suspicious persons/vehicles/activities. There were 14 medical calls during the month - nine in Tennessee and five in Georgia, and there were two fire calls and two fire alarms. There was one auto theft of a vehicle that was left running in the driveway. It was recovered by the Chattanooga Police Department.


Chief Chuck Wells received approval from the commissioners for putting a temporary policy in place aimed at helping out employees if they are affected by the coronavirus. It will give department heads guidelines that will allow them to place a person on administrative leave versus that employee having to use sick time or personal leave if they are impacted by the virus.


The public works department is now concentrating on trimming brush along roads since the brush piles are declining. Potholes are being repaired and Commissioner of Public Works Frank Schriner said that he is waiting to receive bids for repaving North Bragg Avenue from Morrison to Scenic Highway.


Samantha VanAlstyne, assistant treasurer, said the town received $71,000 from the Tennessee Cares Grant, which was based on per capita.  An emergency relief dividend came from Public Entities Partners, the town’s insurer, in the amount of $11,000. A high Visibility Safety Grant for $2,019 will be used to pay overtime for officers to help reduce speeding and DUI. This is the last year any money will come from the state Hall Tax, which has now been phased out. It was budgeted that the town would receive $125,000 this year, but just $106,669  was received from it.


The preliminary audit was done at the end of July and all went well, said Ms. VanAlstyne. That bill has been paid as has $2,000 for membership in the Small Cities Coalition. The annual radio maintenance cost for the fire and police departments has been paid and $1,600 was spent on equipment for the fire department.


Mayor Walker Jones told the commissioners that the town has been taking “a big hit,” this summer. During the summer, peak tourist season, the National Park Service has kept Point Park closed and the Incline Railway is loading passengers at the St. Elmo station where tourists park their cars and buy the tickets. This has left the income from parking meters around Point Park almost non-existent this year.


The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn., Commission will be Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 5:30 p.m.


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