By LYDIA BERGLAR
Dade County schools begin the new school year this Friday, August 4, making the July 24 meeting of the Dade County Board of Education the last board meeting of the summer. The meeting covered several facilities and federal program updates ahead of the start of the school year. The board also heard a presentation about an opportunity for the Dade County High School chorus.
Superintendent Josh Ingle reported that the new Davis Elementary playground equipment has been installed, work on the high school’s gymnasium floor has been completed, work to transform the hitting facility into a PE training facility is ongoing (along with the coinciding work on the second floor of the gymnasium), heating and cooling units are being installed at Dade Elementary before the start of school, and access control updates (as approved last year) are fully implemented.
Gabrielle Haston, chorus director, then informed the board that the DCHS chorus received a personal invitation to Choirs of America’s Nationals for Top Choirs. She reported that recognition of the Dade County Chorus has grown to the point where she receives invitations to performances often, but this one stood out from the rest.
This performance is in New York City at Carnegie Hall, a famous concert venue in Manhattan. Haston said, “Carnegie Hall…is a perfect acoustic venue to sing in. There is not a corner in that room; they’re all curves, so when you sing in that space, the sound melds all together to give this beautiful, heavenly sound. If you get to perform on Carnegie Hall’s stage, you’ve made it.”
If it occurs, the trip will be April 3-8, 2024 during Dade County’s spring break. Haston ran through a possible itinerary as prepared by a third-party tour company, noting that this is an expensive trip. Stops include an hour-long clinic with a Queens College expert, rehearsals and performances, viewing a Broadway show, enjoying New York City cuisine, and visiting the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, and 9/11 Memorial.
Haston anticipates students will need to raise funds, and she also requests community support. “I would love to give students a price where they don’t have to pay a dime once they get on that bus. It is an expensive trip, so we have a lot of fundraisers planned as well as looking for any community support.”
The tour company and Nationals have no minimum or maximum on the number of students who can go. Haston would like to fill up one charter bus (with students and parent chaperones), but some students may choose not to attend for a number of reasons. Haston hopes to do everything possible to keep finances from being a barrier.
Jeremy Roerdink, director of federal programs and safety, briefly addressed action items to be voted on regarding federal programs. The board approved fiscal year 2024 federal program allocations and the District Level Parent and Family Engagement Plan which has not changed since last year.
Regarding the former, Roerdink reported that Title I allocations are $496,129, Title II allocations are $86,783, and Title IV allocations are $38,809. These are increases from the previous fiscal year. Title I is used at the elementary schools, Title II is for staff development, and Title IV funds a part-time art teacher who teaches at both elementary schools.
Regarding the second topic, Roerdink said, “The state tells us what we need to be doing from building staff capacity to working with Title I principals, meeting with them, making sure they have their individualized plan, and kind of an overview to make sure we’re in compliance with Title I regulations. We want our parents to be involved…I work with each principal on what that looks like.”
Loran Grasham with the finance department gave the monthly financial report, noting that 100% of the fiscal year 2023 has been completed but the books remain open until mid-September. The department has until the end of October to close them. She said, “I don’t expect any big changes.”
She added that SPLOST spending for 2023 is completed, but it is subject to change until the fiscal year is closed.
The schools have only expended 67.35% of the 2023 grants, but they are awarded carryover, so they are still able to use these funds this fiscal year.
The board voted to waive laying a policy update on the table for 30 days so that it can be in place at the start of the school year. Ingle explained, “It’s to allow students to carry their EpiPens, but also students who have seizures, we have a seizure medication plan, and this allows them to carry that medication.”
The personnel report is as follows:
- Resignations: Tiffany Castleberry, Susan Caul, Jennifer Clark, Brianna (Fuller) Powell, India White
- Hires: Kelly Broyles, Lori Crabtree, Tammy Daugherty, Stacy Domingo, Katie Gadd, Amber McBryar, Elizabeth Mullins, Kathie Norris, Allison Vice, Laura Wilson