A news report from Bulloch County Board of Education meetings
• Dr. Ken LeCain, Statesboro High School's athletic director has been selected as the Region 2-AAAA Athletic Director of the Year and Georgia 2- AAAA Athletic Director of the Year.
• Bulloch County Teacher of the Year Ashlee Mitchell has been selected as a top-ten finalist for Georgia Teacher of the Year.
• The Bulloch County School District has received one of the 20 Math Science Partnership (MSP) Grants awarded in Georgia. The $250,000 in grant funds will provide a two-year science partnership with Georgia Southern University and RESA and professional development in science for 30, third through fifth grade teachers. (Editor's Note - Dr. Jody Woodrum expresses appreciation to the grant-writing team of Angela Selph, Myra Lipsey, and Tammi Woodrum, and she asks that interested teachers contact her, especially those who work with third-fifth grade students that are either English Language Learners (ELL) or Special Education (SPED).
• The state has reduced funding for Georgia Pre-K. This will reduce the program's school year from 180 to 160 days and cut salaries by 10 percent. Regular Pre-K classes will begin on August 29 for the 2011-2012 school year. Bulloch County Schools is currently making arrangements to provide a for-pay preschool for Pre-K parents August 1 - August 26 for approximately $350 per child.
• Exterior and interior work is continuing at the new Portal Middle High School. Carpet is being installed in the middle grades wing and the exterior painting is nearly complete.
• World-renowned artist Greg Mort spoke to SHS Art Teacher Bunyan Morris' students last Friday.
• Former Georgia Southern Eagle and NFL football star Fred Stokes spoke to Langston Chapel Middle School students as part of a pep rally for the upcoming Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT).
• Statesboro High School Director of Bands Joe Ferguson made a presentation on how technology has enhanced fine arts learning for his students. He uses both inexpensive and free computer softwares to help students learn and apply music theory to their own unique vocal and instrumental compositions. He and his students also use the software to create all of their own music for the marching band, saving the school $3,000 annually in copyrighted music purchasing costs. He also uses digital video capabilities to film marching band routines to critique and improve performances.
Board Member Comments
Board Member Anshul Jain thanked all teachers and parents involved in coaching our Odyssey of the Mind Teams, five of which will be advancing to the upcoming state competition at Columbus State University April. 16. Jain remarked that teachers who advise this program and other extra curricular activities spend a great deal of their personnel time to help students succeed.
Invoice Settlement Program
At its February 10 meeting, the Board tabled for further discussion a proposal to enroll in an invoice settlement program with American Express. The program generates revenues for users who pay their largest vendors using AMEX. The Board's concern is that vendors would try to recoup the three percent fees they are charged by AMEX to use the service eventually increasing the District's costs for services. As a result, the Board rejected this proposal.
Portal Middle High School Greenhouse Bid
The Board approved a bid from Jaderloon Greenhouse Company to construct a new greenhouse at Portal Middle High School for its horticulture and FFA programs. At its February 10 meeting, the Board approved placing the bid on the table for discussion. Funding for the project would be through a construction-related equipment grant that was awarded to the school system's Career Technical and Agricultural Education program.
Southeast Bulloch High School Athletic Facilities
The Board had a lengthy discussion about the scope and costs for needed athletic facility improvements at Southeast Bulloch High School. Board members Mike Herndon and Mike Sparks gave the Board feedback from a February 21, 2011, meeting with Central Office and SEBHS administrators, coaches, and Buckley & Associates Architects. Those discussions exposed concerns about the effects that altering the complex's original design to save costs would have on the feasibility of properly accommodating each sport and its spectators. As a result, the Board voted to rebid the project using the original athletic complex design.
At its February 10 meeting, the Board had voted to reject the original low bid from Pinnacle Construction for the SEBHS athletics project. The project has been discussed with SEBHS personnel and community volunteers since 2007. The Board is attempting to ensure proper and accountable use of Education Special Local Option Sales Tax funds that will ultimately finance the project. The driving factors that necessitate construction of new athletic facilities at the school are safety concerns on the current football field and adequate facilities for all current sports. The Board had originally estimated a budget of $3.6 million, but the lowest base bid was $4.2 million.
Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance Charles Wilson submitted a proposal to the Board to alter transportation zones for Brooklet, Julia P. Bryant, Langston Chapel, Mill Creek, Mattie Lively, and Sallie Zetterower Elementary Schools. The revisions incorporate the initial parameters of balancing ethnicity, balancing school capacity, minimizing disruption to existing school zones, and feedback received at the February 25, 2010 and February 24, 2011 annual, system-wide meeting between the Board of Education and each school's council. The proposed changes would bring capacity utilizations at each of these schools closer to the desired 65 - 75 percent as compared to the 75-85 percent ranges capacities being experienced currently. See charts of the affected properties and racial demographics for each school zone at the end of this document.
The Board placed the proposal on the table pending further input and discussion from principals and parents. Principals will communicate the proposed changes to their Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) and school councils. The Board asked administrators to survey affected parents as to their preferences to either evoke the "grandfathering" option, House Bill 251, or move their student(s) to the new school zones. The Board also wanted to see additional data that showed the proposal's effect on class sizes, transportation costs, faculty transitions, and middle schools.
New Business - Consent Agenda
The Board approved the following requests: (1) fundraising events at Langston Chapel Middle School and Portal Middle High School; (2) sale of surplus equipment Lot #233 Technology, Lot #234 Brooklet Elementary School, and Lot #235 Portal Elementary School; an agreement with the Eagle Student Officials Association to officiate soccer games for Langston Chapel and Southeast Bulloch Middle Schools; an agreement with the Greater Savannah Soccer Officials Association to officiate soccer games for Southeast Bulloch and Statesboro High Schools; minutes for the February 10 and February 24, 2011 meetings; and Board member payroll for February 2011.
New Business - For Approval
911 Radio Maintenance & Service Agreement
The Board approved a request from Assistant Superintendent of Information Systems Craig Liggett made to continue 911 radio maintenance and support with the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners. The annual fee of $42,408 is budgeted each year to provide on-site support at our schools for the Bulloch County 911 Radio System. This agreement term would run July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012.
Mill Creek Regional Park Tennis Center Agreement
The Board discussed a long-term lease agreement with the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners to use the new Mill Creek Tennis Center for the Statesboro High School Tennis Team. Once the agreement is finalized the Board will submit a payment of $275,000 to the Board of Commissioners for half of the agreed upon one-time lease payment of $550,000. Once the project is complete, the Board will submit the remaining $275,000 balance. The agreement outlines a use concept identical to the current Mill Creek agreement for the SHS Baseball Team.
These facilities construction and improvement costs are funded through the capital fund budget, which is primarily funded by education special local option sales tax funds (ESPLOST) that by law may only be used for expenditures of this type. It is separate from the school system's general fund budget.
The BOE had originally identified, in an Athletic Facilities Capital Improvement Plan presented at its February 15, 2010, meeting, the need to build six tennis courts at Statesboro High School at a cost of $500,000 to support the school's tennis program. For an investment of $550,000, the joint facility will include 10 lighted, hard-surface tennis courts fenced in pods of two each, concrete walkways, bleachers, player benches, a tennis pro shop with a large plaza area and picnic tables, public bathrooms, dressing rooms, concessions/retail shop, lighted/paved parking and drop off area in front of the facility. These amenities were not available in the school system's original plan to place a six-court facility at SHS. This larger, joint facility would also allow our high schools to host regional tournaments.
At the April 15, 2010 Board meeting, Mike Rollins, Director of the Statesboro Bulloch Parks & Recreation Department and Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance Charles Wilson showed preliminary architectural renderings of a proposed, joint County-BOE tennis center at Mill Creek Park. Both the County and the Board of Education had capital plans that included building tennis facilities, so administrators felt a joint venture would be a better use of tax dollars.
The joint facility at Mill Creek will benefit the city as well in increased tax revenue due to the economic impact of regional tournaments and a state-of-the-art facility for tennis leagues within the city. The Board also has a similar long-term lease arrangement with the County for using one of its baseball fields for the SHS Baseball Program.
Storage Array network Appliance for School System
The Board approved a proposal from the Information & Technology Department to reduce energy, server refresh, labor and maintenance costs associated with data servers by virtualizing 32 of its 58 existing servers using VMWare software. This can significantly reduce the number of servers needed from 62 to 30 or less. The Department will utilize supplemental E-Rate funds of $32,926.94 that it received plus funds that were budgeted to replace existing servers to purchase a Storage Array Network (SAN) to virtualize our servers. This will save the system $27,000 by eliminating the cost of purchasing additional servers
Statesboro High School Facilities Agreement with Connections Church
The Board approved a facilities rental agreement with Connections Church to lease the SHS Fine Arts Auditorium for $1,000 per week on Sundays from April 2011 to December 2011. This would generate $52,000 in revenue for the school system.
New Business - To Be Placed On The Table
Policy JBC (1) - Homeless Students - Revision
The Board placed on the table for review changes to the District's policies concerning homeless students. The changes are necessary to comply with the federal government's new Homeless Assistance Act.
Policy GBRA - Professional Personnel Health Examinations/Fitness for Duty - Revision
The Board placed on the table for discussion a proposal to revise its current policy for determining the fitness for duty of Bulloch County Schools' employees.
GSBA Delegate/Alternate and Legislative Positions
The Georgia School Boards Association will host its annual meeting in Savannah June 17. Only designated delegates have voting rights. The Board began discussions as to whom they will select as their delegate and alternate for the meeting.