By LYDIA BERGLAR
The May 22 meeting of the Dade County Board of Education focused on NASA HUNCH and plans for an updated weight training facility at Dade County High School. The board also approved the tentative budget for fiscal year 2024.
Regarding NASA HUNCH, the program has been implemented in third, fourth, and fifth grade, meaning that these students may get to see projects they work on used in space by the time they graduate high school.
Jennifer Clark reported on the recent national NASA HUNCH competition in Houston, Texas. She thanked the Bobby Freeman Project and Jennifer Hartline EXP Realty for funding the trip. See the May 3 issue of the Sentinel for a full story about the competition and how DCHS pioneered the NASA HUNCH Health and Biomedical Science Pathway.
Clark read the certificate from NASA that was awarded to the students who competed. It read, “High school students learn 21st century skills and can launch their careers through the participation in design and fabrication of industrial level products for NASA…NASA HUNCH would like to thank you for your contribution and commitment to excellence…Please use this letter as a reference for future education, scholarship, and employment opportunities to demonstrate your abilities.”
Then, Superintendent Josh Ingle reported that they have met with Georgia Power about an energy audit at Davis Elementary School and Magic Morgan Stadium at DCHS. The cost is not yet available, but the board plans to convert to LED lighting at both DES and the stadium.
Ingle reported that the summer meal program will run June 1-30. The program serves meals Monday through Friday in conjunction with summer school.
The board then heard from Principal Brent Cooper and Assistant Principal Vic Grider about a plan to help teams and physical education utilize limited space. Cooper said, “I don’t do this very often, so when I’m up here, I hope you know it’s because I think we have a true need at our school…I want to make decisions that will impact the most number of students.”
He reported that there are three main physical education options at DCHS: PE, Sports Training, and Team Sports. In the 2022-2023 school year, 449 students took these classes. Cooper recognized that while the school system would like to build a multi-use facility one day, a much cheaper option could suffice in the meantime.
Cooper and Grider reported that for $173,152.85, they could turn the batting cages into a well-equipped weight training facility, with additional power racks, rubber plates, boxes, dumbbells, and a turf area for agility and speed work. Cooper noted that several community members offered free labor to handle the painting and install ceiling tiles.
Because the wrestling teams will be practicing at Dade Middle School, the top floor of the gymnasium will be available for hitting/pitching practice. Cooper and Grider explained that a net is already in that area and a second one could be added.
Cooper reported that they consulted all coaches, measured both spaces, and discussed several possible adjustments before arriving at this plan.
Johnny Warren (Trenton District) said, “The bottom line is, it’s not a lot of money, and it’s a heck of a lot better than what we’ve got.”
The board approved the plan, noting that this will be funded by SPLOST V.
The board then discussed and approved the tentative budget for fiscal year 2024. Ingle explained that the tentative general fund is based on the current millage rate, assuming no growth. He said, “We kind of prepared for the worst…One might expect some growth; we just don’t know how much yet.”
The total estimated revenue is just over $21 million, with total expenses of just over $22 million. Ingle said, “Our expenditures do outweigh our revenues by $970,344.”
The board also approved expenses such as trash service, fuel purchases, security upgrades, and maintenance of the DCHS gymnasium floor.
The personnel report is as follows:
- Voluntary Transfer: Ashlie Blalack, Jill Brown, Andi Curtis
- Promotion: Amy Henson, Kimberly Patton
- Resignations: Lindsey Beavers, Kristen Green, Loraleigh Patrick, Grace Pearson
- Hire: Tiffany Sheppard Castleberry, Sabrina Cloud, Jasmine Crabtree, Brooke Gilbert, Victoria Payne, Bill Shelton
- Student Workers: Heidi Maldonado, Bryson Shrader, Kyler Pardue