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Board of Education Approves Technology Purchases and Speeding Prevention Project

News Editor

At the Feb. 27 meeting of the Dade County Board of Education, primary topics included technological expenses and BlueLine Solutions speeding prevention (a company which previously came before the City of Trenton).

Tanner Bradford (technology coordinator) recommended purchasing two Fortinet firewalls for $40,000 each, reporting that they would last for five to seven years. The school system has had the previous firewalls for five years. “They’ll be reaching end-of-life toward the end of this year,” Bradford explained.

He also recommended purchasing additional Promethean ActivPanels (interactive display boards) for a total of $121,910.36. To complete Dade County High School’s ActivPanel collection, 36 are being paid for through a $100,000 grant from the Rural Education Initiative. Eight additional boards for Dade Middle School and Davis Elementary School will be purchased by the school system.

The schools plan to continue replacing projectors with ActivPanels. Bradford said, “The life expectancy is 50,000 hours, while projectors’ life expectancy is only 10,000 hours.”

Bradford noted, “The price of everything has gone up in the technology world. We are out of E-Rate money after this year.” He explained that the school system can apply for E-Rate every five years.

Jennifer Hartline (Sand Mountain District) asked if the school had used all five years of E-Rate money in two years, which Bradford confirmed.

The board approved both purchases.

Patrice Whitt (nutrition and food science teacher and FCCLA advisor) reported that 13 DCHS students in FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) toured the state capitol.

“We got to touch base with two of our local congressmen,” Whitt said. “Mike Cameron was impressed with our community service. Colton Moore took us behind the scenes and showed us how a bill was passed. The house of representatives was in session, and he walked us over to the gallery so we could watch. For all of the students, their eyes were opened up.”

Whitt also made note of the NASA Hunch culinary challenge in Huntsville, Ala. Two students competed and are waiting to hear if they will continue to nationals.

Superintendent Josh Ingle announced that the 2022 Annual Report was newly released. This year’s report was dedicated in memory of Larry Moore for his support of the Dade County school system.

Ingle explained, “[The report] is another tool that allows the board to monitor our strategic plan.” It includes data about academics, graduation rate, scholarships, employee development and education, and financials. “It gives the highlights of each one of our schools. We talk about academics, athletics, and arts.”

The board then heard from Ryan Moore, representative from BlueLine Solutions, and Steve Beaudoin, Trenton City Police Chief, about school zone speeding prevention. Moore previously presented to the City of Trenton Commission on Oct. 17. (See the Oct. 26 issue of the Sentinel for a recap of that meeting and an explanation of BlueLine Solutions.)

As he had previously explained to the city, Moore also explained to the school board that BlueLine Solutions uses lidar to issue citations to speeding drivers in school zones. “We’ve cut speeding in the school zones down by 94.9%,” he said. “It’s a civil issue, so there are no points on your driver’s license.”

Hartline asked about fines, and Moore explained that the first offense is $100 and all further offenses are $150. The company installs the equipment for free, and in return, they receive a portion of the fine fees, the rest of which goes to the city.

Hartline asked why the city was interested in using BlueLine Solutions. Chief Beaudoin responded, “Everything is getting off here in Trenton instead of going through the split. Tractor trailers are going over the mountain now. We’ve got kids walking on the edge of the grass and speeding cars. We’ve got one officer that’s tied up with school traffic, but we’re having a lot of complaints about speeding here.”

While the city is primarily in charge of this project, the superintendent will also sign an agreement form. Moore noted that it would likely be approximately a year before the lidar system would go into effect.

After Loran Grasham gave the monthly financials report, Ingle presented her with a superintendent pen of excellence, saying, “She just went through her first audit. She was trained by one of the best, Miss Paula Stallings. Over the last several months, she’s spent many hours on the phone with our auditors.”

Ingle recommended the purchase of an additional vehicle (not to exceed $40,000) to be used in place of school buses for small school trips, home visits, and other travel. He explained that when a very small group of students travels for a competition, a full school bus must sometimes be used.

For example, when Whitt and the two students traveled to Huntsville (as mentioned above), they had to take a bus which created expenses such as the bus driver’s salary, food expenses, and the cost of fuel.

The school system currently has two such vehicles. Ingle said, “We really don’t have enough. They stay booked.” One of the vehicles has been in an accident, so Ingle recommended retaining it for local travel and purchasing a third vehicle.

The board approved this purchase, as well as the purchase of 600 gallons of diesel fuel at the rate of $3.40 per gallon and the use of ESSER Funds for the HVAC project at Dade Elementary.

The board entered executive session to discuss personnel matters.

The personnel report is as follows:

  • Voluntary Transfer: Alicia Bell, from DMS to DCHS, FY24 school year
  • Retirement: Marsha Townson, Brian Watkins, Cynthia Daniels, Lloyd Ellison, Tammy Crane
  • Hire Transportation/Custodial: Rodney Cartwright, Loraleigh Patrick, Melissa Gordy
  • Hire Paraprofessional: Grace Smith, Heather Holder
  • Hire School Nutrition: Angela Dabbs (cafeteria worker), Sandra Lawrence (cafeteria worker), Michelle Poore (substitute), Andrea Spurlock (substitute)
  • Resignations: Terrie O’Donnell, Justin Spurgin
  • Substitute Teachers: Bailey Roberts, Jasmine Crabtree, Sophie Buckner, Diana Gregg
  • Other: Jessie Plumlee – community coach DMS Soccer

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