The Charlton County Board of Education met Tuesday, June 23.
During the meeting, Superintendent Dr. John Lairsey alerted the board members that Charlton was awarded the Literacy, Living, and Learning (L4GA 2019) Grant. The grant award is for $558,925, which will be received yearly for a five-year period and totals over $2.7 million dollars. The grant represents the largest single grant received in the history of the Charlton County School System. The county was the fourth-highest ranked school in the grant process. Dr. Lairsey shared his appreciation to Dr. Felicia Sauls and her team for their effort. The funds will be used to support the schools’ literacy efforts, making sure books are in the hands of small children, and for staff development.
Also during the meeting, Dr. Lairsey stated the board is “back in business”. There are several programs which require a certain amount be spent within a given time frame, so the board office has gotten a jump start on making purchases for the new school year for items such as hand sanitizer. He shared the board will see more expenditures in the coming months for items such as the sanitizer, dispensers, and other hard to find items. Board Chairman Matt Sands asked Dr. Lairsey about the Micro Technology Consultant expenditure in the amount of $8,100.00. Dr. Lairsey shared it is for the Clever Set Up program, which will be used for the schools’ learning apps. Each app requires its own log-in and password, however the new program will require only one log-in and password to access all apps, making it easier for younger students to use.
Dr. Lairsey stated the board is 91.66 percent through the Fiscal Year Budget. He stated 94.22 percent of the tax revenues have been received. The board has only used 73.96 percent of expenditures, leaving a $5.3 million fund balance. Dr. Lairsey said even with the one million-dollar budget cut, the Board of Education is still in good shape.
Plans for a traditional graduation have been made, with the date set for July 17. Dr. Lairsey will send the plans to the Department of Public Health and governor’s office to make sure the plans are in line with social distancing guidelines. The school will provide eight tickets per student, with five visitors on the home side and three on the away side. In case of rain, the ceremony will take place in the Charlton County High School gym, and only five tickets will be given. The amount of tickets per students is higher than those given in surrounding counties. There are 72 of 88 graduates expected to participate. For more info, see next week’s Herald.
Other news: student handbooks for the 2020-2021 school year were given to the board members for review.
The board agreed to renew its membership for Okefenokee RESA, a Regional Education Service Agency. The agency is a group of participating school districts, which help each other with education services for improved instruction and additional shared services. The year, Camden County will also join.
The agreement with Pierce County for Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing services was also renewed.
A Spending Resolution was passed during the meeting, as the board has been unable to adopt a budget for the new fiscal year. The resolution will give Dr. Lairsey the authorization to expend funds from all sources during the month of July. The expenditure amount will not exceed more than one-twelfth of the final amended budget for all funds. However, a special notation was made to allow Dr. Lairsey to spend no more than $200,000.00 from ESPLOST funds for the re-carpeting of CCHS and other allowable projects. The motion was made and passed unanimously.
Due to the sudden closure of schools, a new system for the calculation of the top ten percent for the classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023 has been approved. The classes will have two possibilities for calculations for honors. Each student’s grades will be calculated with and without grades from the spring semester of 2020. Each student will receive the higher of the two calculations. These calculations will be all or none, meaning all courses taken in the spring semester will be counted or none will be counted. The new calculations should not change the top four or five students and no student will be knocked out of the Top Ten Percent.
The board recently accepted bids for lawn maintenance for the schools, but only received one from Keenes Landscape in the amount of $50,100.00. Dr. Lairsey shared the amount of the bid is still less than the salary and benefit packages of the employees previously handling lawn care and will save the school district money in this area. The motion was unanimously passed.
Dan Spires Floor Covering was awarded the bid for the carpeting of CCHS in the amount of $105,000.00. This is the same company who was used to carpet the BOE building. The carpet will replace all carpeting at the school with the exception of the media center and band room, which have already received new carpet. The current flooring has been causing safety hazards and needs to be replaced. The cost will be paid for by EPLOST funds. The board unanimously agreed.
Board members entered into executive session to discuss personnel, real estate, and potential litigation. No action was taken.
Following executive session, the following personnel changes were made: Lola Harris was hired as a bus driver and Kathy Stevens was hired as a Substitute Food Service Assistant. At Charlton County High School, Michael Dean was hired for In-School-Suspension and Alisa L. Jones will be the new Principal Secretary. Jessica Rowan was approved for transfer from third grade at Folkston Elementary School to fifth grade at Bethune Middle. Kristopher Tillman was hired as a Special Education teacher at BMS. The resignation of Shannon Kruschwitz was approved. The following retirements were approved: Dawn Dean and Karen Huling, Central Office and Diana Roberson and Brenda Pender, Paraprofessionals.
Glover Brothers Football requested the use of the Indian football field, which was unanimously approved.
Dr. Lairsey stated the Security Agreement with the City of Folkston was finalized. Officers with the Folkston Police Department will provide security for Charlton County High School, Bethune Middle School and Folkston Elementary School. Dr. Lairsey said he is looking into setting up a same agreement with the Charlton County Sheriff’s Office for St. George Elementary School.
The board recently sent out the following statement, “The Charlton County School System continues to make plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Our goal is to bring back our students and staff as safely as possible for in-person learning on August 5th, but we do not yet have enough information to make a final decision. We have surveyed our parents and staff members and the majority of respondents indicated they are ready to return to school. We must, however, adhere to state mandates, and thus the board of education continues to collaborate with the Georgia Department of Education, the Governor’s Office and the Georgia Department of Public Health. Our district and school administrators have been meeting continuously to develop plans to offer options for our parents in meeting the needs of our students. We ask for your understanding during these unprecedented times.”
The board is scheduled to meet again Tuesday, July 21 at 7:00 p.m.