By REBECCA HAZEN
Dade County School principals presented end of school year summaries during the Board of Education meeting on Monday, June 28.
“My true heroes are really the faculty and staff. I have asked them to do the unimaginable. I have asked them to come in early every single day, eat in the classrooms … and do extra cleaning,” Dade Elementary School principal Tracy Blevins said.
Blevins reported that there was 717 students enrolled in the beginning of the school year, and 742 students enrolled at the end of the school year. One hundred fifty students were virtually enrolled in August, and that number went down to 74 at the end of the school year.
“This wasn’t just a Monday through Friday job. I got calls on Saturday and Sunday about positive cases,” Blevins said. “It was all hands on deck, we were all working together. If anything, this year has brought us closer together. We had to rely on each other.”
Comfort and care rooms were an important part of providing support for faculty and staff. There were snacks, coffee and creamer provided.
“We still will have a care and comfort room, it just won’t be as large,” Blevins said.
Blevins also thanked the local community for all their support.
“Anytime we had a need, the local businesses, churches and law enforcement were always there to help us,” Blevins said.
Dade Middle School principal Michelle Beeler reported that from August through April, there were 24 positive COVID-19 cases and 408 quarantines. Less than one percent of those exposed ended up positive. The 408 quarantines equaled 2,800-4,000 days of lost instruction.
“We not only survived, but we kept kids safe. That was our number one focus this year. We connected with students in new ways, so there has been some positives to come out of it,” Beeler said.
There were 496 students enrolled in May 2020, and 467 students enrolled in May 2021.
“We are taking daily phone calls for people who want to come back,” Beeler said.
Beeler noted that some students cried when they found out they were being quarantined, mostly because they would miss coming to school.
“That is a testament to how much they really love being in school and being with us,” Beeler said.
Dade County High School principal James Fahrney, Jr., reported that there were 759 quarantines among students, and 57 known positive cases.
“It’s been a long, trying year … but we had a lot of little victories along the way. We might have done more this year than in a regular year. It all came down to trying to make this year special, knowing what our seniors went through last year,” Fahrney said.
There were 627 students enrolled in the high school at the beginning of the school year, and 631 students enrolled by the end of the school year.
Discipline referrals were down, with 165 referrals in 2020-21.
“The kids were super well behaved. They realized just how much they missed things, and they didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that,” Fahrney said.
Fahrney noted that nobody knew what they were getting into, but people came together. Fahrney thanked the student support team, custodians, and the technology, transportation and food service departments.
“What stayed the same? Our commitment to promoting and celebrating those high character students,” Fahrney said.
The high school also committed to creating lifelong memories, as well as promoting the arts. Different events were held including scavenger hunts and outdoor plays.
Charity Barton, principal of Davis Elementary School, will give her summary at next month’s meeting.
Also during the meeting, Dr. Cleta Long, representing the Dade County Schools nutrition staff, was presented with a plaque from No Kid Hungry, designating the staff as Hunger Heroes.
“On behalf of the staff, and all the others; there are a multitude of people that are behind the scenes, thank you to everyone for the plaque. This has been an effort behind the whole community, and it has fed many people. That’s what we’re here for, to take care of the children,” Long said.
Director of Information and Technology, Chris Greene, gave an update about the school’s damaged Chromebook procedure.
In the event that a student damages a Chromebook or its parts or components, they will be financially responsible for the replacement of the device or the parts that make the device fully functional again. Once the device has been diagnosed, the repair or replacement cost will be calculated by the Technology Department. Payment should be to the school bookkeeper where the Chromebook was damaged.
If a screen has been damaged and the damage has been determined to be accidental by the manager of the Chromebook, the student will not be charged for the first screen that they have damaged in that school calendar year. Any subsequent screens damaged by that student (accidental or not) will be the financial obligation of that student.
Superintendent Josh Ingle reported that the school system would receive $1.49 million from the CARES Act.
“These funds will last us over the next couple years. The bulk of these funds are budgeted for continuity of school services,” Ingle said.
The school system will also receive $2.18 million from the American Rescue Plan, which is two thirds of the full amount of the grant. The Department of Education will apply for the final one third.
“Twenty percent of these funds have to be spent on how we are going to address learning loss,” Ingle said.
The board also approved the tentative budget for fiscal year 2022. The estimated revenue is $19.7 million. The funding that the school system is scheduled to receive is $12.5 million. Local taxes projected to be collected is $5.8 million.
Total expenditures in the general fund will be $18.75 million. There would be a surplus of about $1 million.
The first budget public hearing will be Monday, July 19, at noon.
Paula Stallings, representing the finance department, presented the financial report. The fiscal year is 91.67 percent complete.
The ending balance in April for SPLOST funds is $1,818,021.76. Stallings also noted that there is one year left of SPLOST V. SPLOST VI will begin on July 1, 2022.
Total revenue collected through May was $17,195,312.85. Total expenditures were $15,645,781.41. The general fund ending balance 5,141,465.31.
The board approved renewals for property insurance for $87,692, motor vehicle insurance for $40,995.39, and workers’ compensation, for $83,443.
The board also approved the contract for Can Do Kids Pediatric Therapy Services, LLC, for $58 per hour, paid by special program funds.
The board went into executive session for personnel matters. The board approved the retirement of Tommy Partlow, and the resignations of Kristen Dockery, Caleb Dockery and Shannon Ricker. Also approved was the transfer of Skyla Castleberry. The board approved the hiring of Levi Binegar, Susan Fields, Crystal Tipton, Shawna York, Loran Grasham, Gavin Tierce, Ansley Chilton Tucker, Johnny Burch, Jr., and Mike Beeler, and Daegan Branch for lay coach.
The next Board of Education meeting will be July 26.