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BOE Hears Social Work Update, Approves Budget

News Editor 

At its June 26 regular meeting, the Dade County Board of Education heard an update from the social work office, approved the budget for fiscal year 2024, and discussed construction of a wall at Davis Elementary School.

Kristin Barrett, social worker with Dade County Schools, reported that Bridge Health has greatly assisted the schools this past year, noting the work of Taylor Carter (therapist), Mason Lehmkuhl (skill builder), and Tommy Vowell (skill builder) who have a total caseload of about 90 students.

Barrett said, “They go above and beyond to do whatever we need of them. They have reduced wait times for getting students into therapy. They even participate in court.”

Barrett noted that the school system held its first mobile food pantry on June 9, distributing to 198 adults and 111 children across 110 families. This project is possible through a partnership with Helping Hands Ending Hunger. The next mobile food pantry will be on July 14.

Barrett reported several data points from the past year:

  • Home/Agency Visits: 93
  • Truancy Court Cases: 30
  • Attendance: 92%
  • Mental Health Referrals: 119
  • DFCS Reports: 37
  • Crisis Responses: 20 resulting in 7 hospitalizations, 10 safety plans, and 3 phone calls to parents/guardians

Lastly, Barrett reported that she is working with Susan Reyes (director of special programs) on documentation for HB 855, a Georgia house bill regarding additional services for students in foster care.

Regarding the budget, Superintendent Josh Ingle gave a quick synopsis of the information presented at the budget hearings. (See last week’s issue of the Sentinel for further details). The board approved the budget.

The board then discussed the request for proposal to build a wall at Davis Elementary School where the corridor is currently covered by a tarp (due to the demolition of the old rock building). The lowest bid received was $240,825 to build the wall, install a large window (to be replaced by a door once construction of the new building begins), shore up existing stone, lay new concrete blocks, and complete several other details.

Jayne Griffin (at-large representative) asked if this work would need to be done even if the new building was built now. Kenneth Harless with KRH Architects responded, “You would need to do this work regardless.”

Jennifer Hartline (Sand Mountain District representative) asked several clarifying questions and noted that the price seemed high. Daniel Case (North Dade District representative) agreed that the price seemed high. Harless replied that there is a lot of preparation work and labor involved in the project.

Hartline and Case both inquired about the possibility of installing double metal exterior doors now instead of installing a window which would be replaced with a door later on once the new building is built. This was added to the recommendation.

Four of the five board members voted for the recommendation, with Hartline opposed, saying, “I don’t agree with the price for the footage that’s being done.”

Construction is expected to be completed sometime in October.

Check out next week’s Sentinel for an interview with Ingle about Davis Elementary and its construction needs.

The personnel report is as follows:

  • Voluntary Transfer: Thresia Beagles, Carissa White
  • Resignations: Lori Ruland, Jacey Hill, Cheryl Haynes, Troy Stevens, Wendy Stevens
  • Hire: Chris Davis, Autumn Holden, Diana Gregg, Courtney Lewis, Alyssa Smith
  • Student Workers: Samuel Duffey, Conner Shrader

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