The Old Mother Hubbard effect

Sandra Clark

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone;
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

Nothing comes easily for Knox County Schools.

When technology prices drop and a Chromebook can be bought for $200 or less, multiply that times 58,000 students to get a cost of $11.6 million for Knox County Schools. Ouch!

And an even more expensive problem is on the horizon. That’s the cost of personnel to keep the technology running when parent groups or businesses buy the technology.

Just last month 33 businesses kicked in $250 each to buy Chromebooks for Powell High School. It’s happening all over the county. But the school system is not staffed to keep all the devices powered, wired and running.

School board member Lynne Fugate summed it up at a recent meeting: “Everybody wants (the technology), but it costs a lot of money.

“How do we get ahead of it?

“Our parents are demanding it and are buying computers for the schools and we have to support it.

“Let’s not lead from behind.”

Gail Byard is the chief technology officer for Knox County Schools.

“Chromebooks are game changers,” she said.

She said a 4-year rollout at $1 million per year would put a Chromebook in the hands of each high school student and teacher. Oh by the way, KCS needs 63 additional technicians.

Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said schools in economically disadvantaged areas have bought computers with Title One funds, while other schools have committed Coupon Book dollars to technology.

Board member Tracie Sanger voiced support for increased technology, but Knox County Schools has hit the Old Mother Hubbard effect.

The money cupboard is bare.

The mayor’s rage

Is Victor Ashe annoying and hard to live with?


But a guy who has written a column for Shopper News every week for five plus years is a columnist. And this newspaper will support every columnist and reporter we publish.

Do we always agree with Victor? No.

Will we let a politician – even one we like – get away with denying access to public information? Nope.

Madeline Rogero is suffering from a bad case of second-termitis. She’s safely re-elected and now term-limited so what’s to lose?

Let’s ban that dancing butter stick and egg from the top of Magpies Bakery, even though the sign ordinance clearly allows for art.

Let’s just tell off the former 4-term mayor because he’s a pest.

Let’s charge the Fountain City Christmas parade $1,500 for police reserve officers for the first time in 48 years.

Call it another downside of term limits.

Victor Ashe was a political writer in college. He’s got a hammering style, but he’s also got a nose for news and the contacts to track down stories.

I recruited Victor while he was still in Poland to write a column for Shopper News. Back when everyone was speculating on what he would do next, we struck our deal.

Citizens are best served by opinions from a variety of informed sources. Lord help us all when the “news” we know comes from PR departments, be they City Hall or UT sports.

Smith is ‘all wet’

Commissioner Randy Smith was walking down Gay Street Monday en route to lunch with Mayor Tim Burchett, finance director Chris Caldwell and PR guy Michael Grider.

It was a strange sight in pouring rain. Burchett was wearing his tan Carhartt jacket (which smells like a wet dog – his words). Grider was juggling an umbrella over the mayor when the men passed a mom and baby without protection from the rain.

“Randy Smith just handed her his umbrella,” said Burchett. “Didn’t even tell her who he was. Just said, ‘Keep it.’”

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