During their combination work session and regular meeting Tuesday, Dec. 4, the Haralson County Board of Education heard several system updates and approved a new salary scale for school nutrition employees.
During Haralson County Schools Superintendent Brett Stanton’s Superintendent’s Spotlight, the board was updated on several recent accomplishments in the school system.
Stanton recognized Buchanan Elementary School and their principal Brandi Gregory for making “great strides” in academic performance in recent years. The school was recently named a “Highest Progress School” by the state for being in the top 10 percent of schools who have made the highest progress in the past three years.
The superintendent also recognized Haralson County Middle School and their principal Brian Ridley for the school’s recent award as one of only eight “2012 Breakout Schools” in the state. The Breakout Schools Award is designed to identify, recognize and showcase Georgia middle schools that are high achieving or dramatically improving student achievement.
Stanton also notified the board that the system’s Charter Schools Application had been returned to the state for final approval, and the system is one of the final contenders for a Race to the Top grant. Haralson County is one of four schools being considered for the $7 million grant that would be used to “increase student achievement, close the achievement gap in subgroups, increase the graduation rate, give students more college and career opportunities, implement 21st Century technology in the classroom” among other things, according to Haralson County Schools Chief Academic Officer Dr. Janet Goodman. Haralson County is competing against Fulton, Rockdale and Morgan County School Systems for the grant.
The board also received an update from CTAE Director Angie Campbell on Haralson County High School’s Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) program, which was reviewed on-site by the state Department of Education recently.
“Our on-site review was very positive,” Campbell said. “We received several recommendations, and there are several things we need to work on, but we also had a lot of positive feedback.”
The state was complementary of the school’s course offerings and the good rapport teachers share with their students; however, the state also made recommendations, such as offering more hands-on programs and updating the labs.
Also, Parent Mentor Cheryl Benefield updated the board on the Improving Student Outcomes through Family Engagement program, which is tailored to benefit the parents of students who have individualized lesson plans. Benefield also shared with the board what activities the group has been doing to get the message out to parents to get them the information they need. Benefield also shared information on activities she’s been involved with to target students at risk of dropping out, namely with the CAFE program. Circle of Adults Focusing on Education (CAFE) is a group made up of parents, community members, the principal, a counselor and a parent mentor who collaborate on addressing issues that may cause a student to drop out.
Benefield said the CAFE has sponsored and collaborated on many activities so far, such as counselor road shows, HCHS Adminstrator meet and greet, College and Career Ready events, and coming home tours. Benefield encouraged all parents to take advantage of the Parent Mentors and the Family Engagement Program.
In other news, the board was updated on the current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax projects that have been going on at various schools in the system. Facilities Director Steve Wells reported that most of the projects the board approved earlier this year have been completed, including the new track, drainage, tennis courts and track curbing at HCHS; the ventilation projects at Buchanan Elementary and West Haralson Elementary; and the electrical and technical upgrades for the system’s new wireless network.
The board approved a vote to move forward with a paving project at WHES. Jackson Paving will be completing the project, which will resurface the parking lot and install curbs.
The board also approved policy EEE regarding a Wellness Program, which was up for review. The board tabled discussion of Board Goals, which addresses the board’s goals they have set for themselves to be alligned with new Georgia School Boards Association standards.
The board approved a new salary scale for school nutrition employees. Cindy Jones, head of the department, said the starting salary for her employees is $7.25 – the same as minimum wage. Jones proposed a new starting pay at $7.75 to remain competitive with other school systems in the area, “and it’s well within our budget to do so,” she said. All other salaries will go up as well, as the pay system is on a sliding scale. The changes will go into effect in January 2013.
The board also approved a motion to allow Stanton to join the National Center for Education Research and Techonology. Membership to the center is by invitation only and is reserved for “prominent school district superintendents,” according to their web site. “[NCERT] is a distinguished group of education-related corporate members who participate actively and collaboratively with the group. Membership is by limited to 85 superintendent members and 10 corporate leaders. The group focuses on contemporary issues of interest to the CEO of a school district.”
The motion was approved unanimously.
The next Haralson County BOE meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 1 at the Central Office in Tallapoosa.