By REBECCA HAZEN
The Dade County Board of Education recognized both students and employees during the April 26 meeting.
The board recognized Kylie Lawson, who won honorable mention (second place) in her grade level in the Young Georgia Authors Writing Competition in the Northwest RESA district.
Lawson was presented with a certificate, $25 Amazon gift card and Academic Pin of Excellence.
The board also recognized the Trenton-Dade Optimist Club essay first place winners from Dade Elementary School, Benjamin Schenck and Winters Garmany; Davis Elementary, Peyton York and Ella Hughes; Dade Middle School, Yuvika Vinit Barot, Amelia Claire Anderson and Justice Lynn, and from Dade County High School, Jack Dupree. Dupree was unable to attend, and will be recognized at the next meeting. Essay winners received medals and pins.
Optimist Club member Jane Dixon said, “Even during the pandemic, we had not only our essay competition, but we also had our oratorical contest. We were one of the few in the state that did it. We did it because the schools put out the effort. It’s the words of our kids, and that is important.”
Interim Superintendent Josh Ingle thanked Tommy Partlow and David Blevins, both transportation employees, who were at the meeting. Ingle presented Superintendent Pins of Excellence to both men.
“David Blevins is here every morning starting those buses for the drivers. His right hand man, Mr. Tommy Partlow, if anything goes wrong on the bus, Tommy is there to fix it,” Ingle said. “Our buses could not run without you.”
Ingle also recognized Dade Elementary School counselor Tinena Bice and social worker Kristin Barrett for helping to deliver donated items to Coweta County.
“Back in 2011 we had serious storms that came through, so we know what it’s like going through that devastation. Some of our fellow Georgians in Coweta County experienced what we experienced. One of our churches, New Salem Baptist Church, gathered a lot of supplies,” Ingle said.
“I want to thank new Salem Baptist Church. They did all the work. I just got to help deliver it,” Bice said.
Also at the meeting, Ashleigh Garmony, with Scenic Dade Development Company (SDDC) gave a presentation about the Town Creek Trail, a walkable green space through Trenton’s city center along Town Creek. SDDC is coordinating the implementation of the trail.
Town Creek Trail begins at Jenkins Park. The current planned trail includes both public and private properties along the creek.
“This adds a tremendous amount of safety for our community,” Garmony said. “A pedestrian walkway is one of the main things that slows down traffic.”
SDDC, a nonprofit organization, requested use of Board of Education property along the northern edge of Town Creek, from Wolverine Drive to I-59, to clean and stabilize the creek bank and install that segment of the trail.
From Wolverine Drive, the route will follow the northern edge of Town Creek along the southern border of the parcel. Before reaching I-59, the path will end in a cul-de-sac with a small centerpiece to include an art installation and landscaping. This feature will provide both a destination and a natural turnaround for pedestrians.
“As a mom, and as a resident of Trenton, this kind of project gets me really excited. I enjoy walking. This will be a trail in the middle of the city that will use the natural resources. It will provide at least a one–mile loop in the city center. It brings the community into the city,” Garmony said.
During Ingle’s report, he noted that Teacher Appreciation Week is May 3-7. There were 49,603 meals served in the district for the month.
Ingle also noted that Georgia Governor Kemp announced that he would issue $1,000 for teacher retention bonuses. Across the district, there were 293 teachers that qualified for a total of $289,960.
“We also had the flexibility, for our employees that did not qualify, to issue supplemental pay using our federal relief funds as well,” Ingle said.
Local CARES funds will provide that one-time supplement, for about 15-16 people.
Ingle also said that the school district hit a milestone since the school year started, reporting zero quarantines and zero positive cases.
Dr. Cleta Long gave an update on the Media Center project, noting that the furniture would be delivered on Friday.
“Our media centers should be all finished by Monday when the students come back. Thank you again to the board for approving this project. I am sure you are as anxious as I am to see these beautiful media centers for our children and help further their education,” Long said.
Dr. Sandra Spivey presented the financial report. The total expenditures for SPLOST V through the end of March is $7,875,080.57. Collections to date for the fiscal year $6,009,497.51. Overall collections are up by a little over $285,000. SPLOST collections received in March for February collections are $209,879.82. As of March, the school is 75 percent through the fiscal year. General fund revenues are at $14,044,546.47, which is 72.77 percent of the budgeted amount.
Patti Johnson gave an update about MTSS (multi-tiered system of supports).
“We applied for this last year and received a grant to be trained. It is where we use our assessments to identify and predict students that may be at risk for poor learning outcomes or who experience social and emotional needs,” Johnson explained.
Davis, Dade Elementary and Dade Middle School have created their teams and have all been trained. Johnson said that the next step would be to create a Dade County MTSS manual during the summer to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Technology Specialist Chris Greene informed the board that 300 Chromebooks will reach their end of life this summer, and will no longer be functional next school year.
The board approved an agreement with Lifetouch Photography to take photos of the students in 2022.
The board approved the laying of multiple policies “on the table” for 30 days.
According to Ingle, information regarding the county’s Board of Education meetings, meeting agendas, planning, policies, and more can be found on Simbli’s website. This site will also allow the general public to provide feedback on local policies that are currently pending board of education approval.
To comment or leave feedback on a policy in the ‘pending status,’ enter the URL listed, and to the right hand side of the web page under Pending Documents, the following policies are open for comment: BCBI: Public Participation in Board Meetings; DFK: Gifts and Bequests; DIB: Financial Reports; JBCB: Non Resident Students. After reviewing each policy, the public may comment, leave a name, an email address, and submit at the bottom of the webpage for that specific policy. The feedback will be made available to the Dade County Board of Education as it is received.
The board also approved the continuation of participating with Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership. The Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership is an alliance of parents and professionals working together to improve outcomes for students with disabilities by enhancing communication and collaboration between families, educators and the community.
Ingle reported that one of the HVAC units for the Dade Elementary School Upper Gym has a cracked heat exchange. Bids were received for both repair, and for replacement of the unit. Ingle recommended that the board approve the purchase of a new unit for $12,209, and keep the old HVAC unit and use it for parts, noting that the unit was 15 years old, and it would be better in the long run to replace it.
The board also approved an overnight trip for Dade County High School BETA Club students. Several students qualified for the national BETA conference in Orlando, Fla., to be held this June.
Rachel Raines, from Trenton, spoke to the board during the public input portion of the meeting. Raines was concerned over things being taught to kids in the county.
“Historically we have been a conservative county. I think we still are for the most part. There seems to have been a number of teachers being brought in that have not shared our values … I bring my kids here to learn English, math and science. I don’t bring them here to be taught how to think,” Raines said.
The board went into executive session to discuss personal and property matters.
After executive session, the board approved the resignations of Shelby Ralston, Leah Smith, Katherine Scott, Nick Amendolare, Katherine Knox-Graves, Autumn McMunn and Mekala White. The board approved the hiring of fiscal year 2022 certified personnel, which includes principals Tracy Blevins, Charity Barton, Michelle Beeler and James Fahrney Jr. The board also approved fiscal year 2022 custodial staff on a 240-day calendar, Gavin Tierce as a community coach, and Kayla Brown as a cafeteria substitute.
The next Board of Education meeting will be May 24.