Student enrollment up, new gym on schedule
With a full agenda to tackle, the Morgan County Board of Education convened Monday, August 13 for their first meeting of the new school year.
July marked the first month of Fiscal Year 2008 as well as the first month under the Boardâ€™s new operating budget.Â
The operating fund began with a balance of over $3.3 million and, after more than $1.5 million in receipts and almost $2.8 million in expenditures, ended with a balance of approximately $2 million. Ending balances for school nutrition and ELOST funds for the month ending on July 31 totaled over $380,000 and almost $1.8 million, respectively.
In her report, Assistant Superintendent for Student Support and Community Relations Sarah Burbach shared the most current enrollment numbers with the Board. As of Monday, August 13, the sixth day of school, there were 3,267 students present, bearing in mind that students are still entering and withdrawing from the system.Â
This is an increase of 12 students compared with the enrollment during the last month of school, which saw a total of 3,255 students.
Year-to-year comparisons canâ€™t be made until the fourth month of school, according to Superintendent Stan DeJarnett.
In his report, Director of Operations Bob Monk told the Board that the new Morgan County High School gymnasium was currently on schedule to open for the start of the 2008 school year.
Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Ralph Bennett distributed the results of the summer CRCT re-test to the Board. Of the 99 third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students that were re-tested, 49 percent scored in Performance Level One in Reading while 51 percent scored Level Two; 27 percent scored in Performance Level One in regards to the Math portion of the test, while 73 percent scored in Level Two. A score in Performance Level Two or Three is considered passing.
In his Superintendentâ€™s Report, DeJarnett began by debriefing the Board on the opening of the schools.
â€œI think weâ€™ve had a very good first week of school,â€� DeJarnett said. â€œThe only thing of concern on everyoneâ€™s mind is the heatâ€¦I think we handled it as best we could.â€�
DeJarnett cited the measures taken to beat the heat on the school buses, which arenâ€™t air-conditioned. These measures included dismissing those student riding in cars early in an effort to keep the buses moving and the air in them circulating as well as providing students with moist towelettes and the opportunity to drink as much water as possible both before and during their ride home on the bus.
The superintendent updated the Board on the progress being made with housing the Morgan County chapter of the Boys & Girls Club at Morgan County Middle School. Construction on the white building at the middle school should be completed no later than mid-October.
DeJarnett informed the Board that the Lake Oconee Area Bikers Club, a mountain biking group, expressed interest in building a trail through the property next to Heritage Park owned by the Morgan County Board of Education. There are no current plans to develop the property, the cost to the Board would be nothing and the construction of the trail would be minimal, primarily involving the removal of fallen trees.
Further, the club intends to make the trail a facility that children could use, both for their entertainment and as a possible space for fund-raisers.
As far as the Synergy Lake Oconee, LLC development currently tabled by the Morgan County Planning Commission, DeJarnett passed around copies of the DRI report regarding the impact to the school system of such a development to Board members for their review.
The superintendent also addressed the possibility of DeKalb Tech building a site in Morgan County to potentially house the schoolâ€™s Adult Literacy program, currently being held at Calvary Baptist Church, as well as a quick-start training program for manufacturing, which could attract more manufacturing business to the area. DeJarnett also stated that the Dual Enrollment program now in place at Morgan County High School could possibly be moved to the new facility.
â€œCity and county leaders have expressed interest in bringing a free-standing facility here,â€� DeJarnett said.
DeJarnett is meeting with officials from the city and county governments as well as those from DeKalb Tech this week to further discuss the matter.
In other news, DeJarnett informed the Board that the ground-breaking for the new Rutland Academy in Athens is slated to take place on Tuesday, August 28.
The construction of the facility, designed for special needs students, is funded by the school systems of the Northeast Georgia RESA, of which the Morgan County School System is a member. The school serves students with severe emotional and behavioral disorders as well as autistic students, Burbach said. Morgan County currently has eight students who ride the bus to Athens each day to attend the school.
The superintendent reminded the Board that, at the March meeting, a resolution regarding new standards for local Boards of Education from the Georgia School Board Association was signed, demonstrating compliance with those standards.
Continuing that effort, the superintendent let the Board know that part of the process is for the chairman to appoint a committee to review the Boardâ€™s compliance with these standards. The Board then began forming that committee immediately, appointing members Minnie Peek and Jimmy Paxson to represent the Board.
The Board passed motions unanimously to allow the use of the high schoolâ€™s cafeteria by a church group; to approve of two formerly tabled Morgan County Board of Education policies involving, one, police interrogations and investigations and, two, educational accreditation agency relations; to permit an overnight field trip to the Regional Theater Festival in Augusta; to declare the primary schoolâ€™s electric convection oven as surplus; to declare the primary schoolâ€™s CPUs, monitors and printers as surplus; and to approve personnel. An Action Item to approve FY08 courses that donâ€™t require textbooks or that use a set of class textbooks was passed by a vote of four to one, as Board member Dave Belton objected to students not having textbooks, much less the ability to take the books home with them.
Early in the meeting, the Board of Education recognized the Morgan County High School FFA at the meeting for receiving the National FFA Chapter Achievement Award Programâ€™s three-star gold rating.
â€œThis is a pinnacle of achievement Iâ€™ve been attempting for several years,â€� FFA Advisor Tim Savelle said.Â
â€œWe try to build our program each year to a higher level. This year we were able to build it, with the help of these students you see here tonight, to the point where we received the highest rating the national FFA can give to a local FFA chapter.â€�
DeJarnett also recognized the Board itself by presenting them with certificates relating to their School Board Member Training.