BLOOD FROM AN ORANGE
It was more of the same for University of Tennessee students and faculty in '97, which was not good news. Once again, the budget crunched, vacant faculty spots stayed vacant, and there were clampdowns on everything from travel to supplies. Unhappy students also found themselves paying an extra $100 a semester for a "technology fee," even as the use of such advanced technology as photocopying was sharply curtailed. But it was also a year of planning for the future. Locally, Chancellor Bill Snyder's APEC committee offered some suggestions for streamlining the campus' curricula (watch for scholarly fur to fly when those suggestions get specific about cutting departments and programs). And at the state level, Gov. Sundquist appointed a "blue-ribbon panel" to study the state's higher education system, with recommendations for reform due sometime after the next election.
On the surface, it was a pretty quiet 12 months for Knox County schools. Oh sure, there was the expected squabbling with County Commission over a construction project or two, and the familiar debates about how to deal with unruly special education students, and the usual dissatisfied noises from the teachers' union about teeny pay raises, but by and large things seemed calm. Test scores in general looked good system-wide, and math scores looked great. When the biggest scandals of the fall are some soccer players smoking cigars and a shocking (shocking!) dearth of student "Pledge of Allegiance" intonations, administrators shouldn't have much to worry about. But next year is a decisive one politically, with five of nine school board seats up for grabs, so things could get interesting soon. Steve Hunley, the outspoken East Knox County board member who finished his first year in office in September, hasn't been shy about taking Superintendent Allen Morgan to task, especially on financial issues, and he has allies elsewhere who would like to see a few more like him on the board. For Morgan and co., 1997 may have been the calm before the storm.