School Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong announces decision to move forward with Forward Funding and the Modernization Grant; MS and HS Robotics Teams give demonstration

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The Towns County Board of Education convened on April 17, 2017 at 7 p.m. for their monthly Board Meeting. All Board Members were present as well as Towns County School Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong. Elementary School (ES) Principal Dr. Sandy Page, Middle School (MS) Principal Erica Chastain and High School (HS) Principal Dr. Connie Hobbs were in attendance.

Dr. Berrong announced that he and Director of School Facilities Roy Perrin had discussed at length the subject of school modernization, which TCSD is in need of, and the new state program called Forward Funding where the state will advance five years of estimated Entitlement Grant to TCSD that would be paid back with the next five years of Entitlement Grant money. Coupled with the Modernization Grant and E-SPLOST income, Perrin stated in a March 8, 2017 FetchYourNews.com article that TCSD could have what amounts to brand new school facilities. Dr. Berrong said that since the Forward Funding program is so new, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. However, he said, rather than take the chance of funding the school modernization program the conventional way, which would cost TCSD more money, he and Perrin decided that it would be prudent to go ahead with the application for Forward Funding and see what comes about. Dr. Berrong said that it will be August 2017 before they find out exactly what the state program of Forward Funding will do.

Dr. Sandy Page

Dr. Sandy Page

Dr. Page, reporting on the ES, said that the students had been preparing for the state mandated End of Course (EOC) testing, that they had worked very hard and she expects them to do well. She said a celebration has been scheduled for Friday, April 28 when their testing is finished. Dr. Page said that the Science Olympiad Team won a couple of ribbons where they had competed at N. Oconee HS. She said the 4H (BB) Shooting Team which had competed at Walton County on Saturday, April 8 had qualified to go to the state competition and that she was going to chaperone a trip for them to Rock Eagle for a weekend. She said that the teachers were preparing for the Teacher Keys Effectiveness Testing (TKES), a state mandated testing program designed to build teacher effectiveness and ensure consistency and comparability throughout the state. Dr. Page reported that there were now a total of 238 students enrolled in the ES.

MS Principal Erica Chastain

MS Principal Erica Chastain

Chastain reported that the MS is in EOC testing mode, like the ES, and she expects them to do well. MS teachers are also preparing for their TKES testing, she said. Chastain said they will be hosting a fifth grade parent orientation (transition) night on Wednesday, April 26 for the parents of the fifth grade students that will be coming over to the MS next year. Chastain then turned the floor over to MS students Dylan Youngblood and Liam King, the MS Robotics Team, for a robotics demonstration. Youngblood and King had constructed a robotic mechanism designed to scare bears away from a targeted area with lights, sounds and a Pine Sol scent. The two students were very engaging and the Board seemed truly impressed

TCMS Robotics Students Dylan Youngblood and Liam King

TCMS Robotics Students Dylan Youngblood and Liam King

 

Youngblood and King then turned the demonstration over to the HS Robotics Team, Connor Kelley and Alex Mullins. Kelley and Mullins demonstrated two of their mechanisms for the Board. Kelley said that last year there were 10 members on the Robotics Team, but this year there are only two because last year seven members of the Team were seniors and graduated and one went to night school. However, he said, they had done well in the competitions this year because of their hard work and the help and support they had gotten from teachers and the school. Kelley said that their success was also due to their Outreach Program. For example, he said, they have a booth at the Fall Festival every year and bring small robots that kids can ‘drive around’. He said each team member designs their own robots, programming and all. Kelley and Mullins then demonstrated a prototype of their competition robot for the Board. Dr. Hobbs said that none of this would have been possible without the help of Jo Ray Vanvliet.

TCHS Robotics Students Connor Kelley and Alex Mullins

TCHS Robotics Students Connor Kelley and Alex Mullins

Dr. Hobbs, reporting on the HS, said enrollment was up to 335 in the HS. She said 11 students had placed in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) at the state level and were going to the nationals in Anaheim, CA. She said the United Community Bank Junior Board of Directors has chosen their new delegates for the upcoming year: Lydia Moss, Hannah Whitehead, Chase Williams, Andy Chambers, Sarah Beth Hobbs, Zach Davenport, Brooke Barrett, Sarah Bastion, Carly Dills, Sadie Eller, Caden Pyrkik and Haley Stowers. Baseball, soccer, tennis and golf is winding down to the last few weeks, she said; and the golf team will be going to the regional competition next Monday, April 24. Dr. Hobbs said the HS student EOC testing is about to begin and that the teachers were prepared to administer the tests. Clean Sweep Day, she said, will be this week and the FBLA Members and the Student Council volunteered and they chose Upper Bell Creek Road as their area to clean up on Wednesday, April 19. She said the HS Chorus is performing their annual “Funky Towns” performance on Friday night, April 21 at 7: p.m. Dr. Hobbs said a transition meeting, much like the MS fifth graders are doing, for upcoming eighth graders transitioning to the HS is in the works. She said the Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO) Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up and thanked the PTSO for taking that project on.

Laura Banister and Dr. Kilee Smith get 'schooled' on robotics.

School Board Members Laura Banister and Dr. Kilee Smith get ‘schooled’ on robotics.

Dr. Connie Hobbs

Dr. Connie Hobbs

Dr. Hobbs introduced 14-year-old, ninth grader Julia Chinkham to the Board. She explained that Chinkham, after having taken the Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) course and finishing on a Thursday recently, was babysitting the following Saturday, two days later, and had to administer CPR to the 4-year-old child in her care and saved her life. Dr. Hobbs wanted to recognize Chinkham for her efforts. The Board was very pleased to recognize Chinkham. Dr. Hobbs said an article in the local paper was forthcoming and that the Towns County Sheriff had also recognized her.

Dr. Hobbs with Julia Chinkham (on L)

Dr. Hobbs with Julia Chinkham (on L)

 

 

 

In other TCSD news:

Approved Fundraisers:

  • HS Boys Basketball Krispy Kreme fundraiser for May 20, 2017
  • HS Girls Basketball Fundamental Camp fundraiser for May 24-26, 2017
  • HS Girls Basketball Cookout & Carwash fundraiser for June 3, 2017
  • HS Boys Basketball Shoot-a-thon fundraiser for June 3, 2017

Approved Field Trips:

  • MS 4-H UGA – trip to Spring Training Football Game for April 22, 2017
  • HS Girls Basketball – UGA, Young Harris, Polk Co. Camps for June 12-14, June 15-18, and June 19-20, 2017
  • HS Boys Basketball – Tennessee Wesleyan Camp for June 12-14, 2017
  • HS Girls Basketball – Six Flags Over Georgia for June 12, 2017
  • HS Boys Basketball – Polk Co. Tennessee Camp for June 19, 2017
  • HS Boys Basketball – Rabun Co. HS Camp for June 24, 2017
  • HS Boys Basketball – Murphy, NC HS Camp for June 24, 2017

Approved Administrative Changes:

  • The list of returning Administrators and Certified Staff for the 2017-2018 School Year was approved.
  • Elderly and handicapped access to the TCS Stadium was discussed, no action taken.
  • Extended medical leave for SPED Paraprofessional Ansley Kimsey was approved and extended to May 1, 2017.
  • The resignation of Girls Basketball Coach James (Jim) Melton was approved. Melton served a total of 23 years.
  • The recommendation of new Girls Basketball Coach Brian Hunnicutt was approved with one dissent. Hunnicutt was also approved as a Substitute Bus Driver.
  • The recommendation of Driver Education Teacher Jeff Stowers was approved.
  • The resignation of Full-Time Maintenance/Custodial Employee Daniel Coffey was approved as of April 21, 2017.
  • The recommendation of Full-Time Maintenance/Custodial Employee Bob Wunderlich was approved.
  • The recommendation of MS/HS Art Teacher Sarah Ewing was approved.
  • The recommendation of Full-Time Bus Driver Ginger Wood was approved.

With no Executive Session called for and no further business to conduct, the meeting adjourned.

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