By REBECCA HAZEN
The Dade County Board of Education heard the annual State of School report for Davis Elementary, presented by Principal Charity Barton, during the Feb. 22 meeting.
“With such an unusual time, no one knew what to expect. It has taken a lot of leadership and a lot of planning to make sure that we could get the school year off to a good start,” Barton said.
Teachers at Davis have rearranged classes to stay in “homes,” so they stay with their class the entire day.
Custodians stay after school on Wednesdays to spray the empty building with backpack sanitizers. Temperatures of students are checked often.
Throughout the school year, there were 59 students quarantines and five staff quarantines. There were seven student positive cases and four staff positive cases.
Barton reported that there are 257 students (227 in-person and 30 virtual). The attendance rate is 96.5 percent. Fifty–seven percent of the students are on free/reduced meals, however, it was noted that everyone is receiving free lunches this year. Students in special education make up 9.1 percent of the student body.
Teachers are creating engaging lessons, incorporating graphic organizers and writing across all subjects. There is collaboration with teachers to improve lesson planning.
“We are still working on making sure that we have the best lessons for our students,” Barton said.
iReady Reading Data showed that the number of Tier 1 students increased by 21 percent from the beginning of the year to mid-year.
At the beginning of the year, iReady Math data showed that 16 percent of students were at risk, and 21 percent were in Tier 1. At mid-year, six percent are at risk, and 46 percent are at Tier 1.
“I am so proud of the teachers for pushing through, and obviously it is paying off to be in-person,” Barton said.
“Even with a pandemic, we are well on our way to helping navigate our students toward belonging, accomplishment, and meeting their full potential,” Barton said.
Aila Gass was presented the Illumination Award. Gass is a sixth grader at Dade Middle School.
“This award was created to recognize an elementary or middle schooler who demonstrates servant leadership among his or her peers, school and community,” teacher Amber Kent said.
Kent said that Gass has participated with Operation Christmas Child, fed the homeless in downtown Chattanooga with her church, and gathered gifts for the residents at Dade Health and Rehabilitation.
Michelle Doane-Beeler, Principal of Dade Middle School, named Jerzee Crabtree and Gabriel Yarbrough as REACH Scholarship recipients.
“This could not go to two more deserving children. It is extremely competitive to become a REACH Scholar. You have to fill out an extensive application packet, and you have to be a top student,” Doane-Beeler said.
“They will be eligible to receive a $10,000 scholarship upon graduating from high school,” Interim Superintendent Josh Ingle said.
The board members also heard Evie Wood’s Oratorical Contest speech. Wood, a student in Dade Elementary, won first place in the Optimist Club’s Oratorical Contest, which was Feb. 19.
Makaela Chance, from Dade Middle School, who came in second place, also read her speech for the board.
All of the recognized students were given pins.
Ingle reported that there were 35 Davis Elementary students in virtual enrollment, 74 students from Dade Elementary, 105 from Dade Middle School and 185 from Dade County High School.
Students were served 13,668 breakfasts and 20,204 lunches in the month of January.
According to Ingle, Luke Gray, a backhoe operator, recently did some work at Davis Elementary. When it came time to bill Gray for his work, he said he was a student at Davis, and wanted to donate his time and equipment as a gift.
“We are currently working toward paying this kindness forward,” Ingle said.
Ingle reported that some concrete needs to be removed by the bottom of the steps by the middle school gym. Director of Maintenance and Transportation, John Smith, is working on a plan to remove the concrete.
“When it pours at Dade Middle, the water backs up right there. I think that will solve our problem,” Ingle said.
The board heard from Smith, who gave a transportation update.
“This is the second year we have had zero accidents. When you think we drive over 6,000 miles a week, I think the drivers need to be commended for that,” Smith said.
Smith noted that every day the buses are fogged with disinfectant. The buses are going to start carrying hand sanitizer, and the bus drivers will encourage the students to use it when they climb aboard.
Technology Specialist Chris Greene reported to the board that the wireless system’s access points are going to reach their end of life soon. There are over 300 access points.
“They will continue to run, but our controllers that control those will no longer be supported,” Greene said.
Greene noted that wireless is on the E-Rate list this year. The E-Rate program makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools.
The board also approved two policies regarding sexual harassment of employees and sexual harassment of students.
Dr. Sandra Spivey presented the financial report. Spivey reported that total expenditures through the end of January 2021 are $7,385,731.68. To date, collections for this fiscal year are $5,580,522.69, which is up compared to last year. SPLOST collections received in January for December collections are $227,494.56. Half way through the fiscal year SPLOST revenue totals $1,324,000.
“Our estimated budge revenue for this point in the year was $1,300,000. We have received $24,000 more than expected,” Spivey said.
The board went into executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss personnel matters.
Resignations were approved for paraprofessional Elaine Frint, teacher Ivy Carter, counselor Carlton Pittman and teacher Tiffany Wilkins. The hiring of special education paraprofessional Tony Richardson and full-time cafeteria worker Cynthia Sullivan was approved. Custodian Myra Helton will transfer from the high school to the middle school. Chris Greene, Director of Information, Technology and Network Services, was promoted.
The next Board of Education meeting will be March 22.