Sheriff Clinton and Superintendent Berrong discuss school security


HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County officials gathered nine days after the Parkland, Florida, massacre to discuss school safety concerns with the community. Sundance Grill was filled to near-capacity during Friday’s Movers and Shakers morning meeting as residents congregated to hear School Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong and Sheriff Clinton share their thoughts in the aftermath of the tragedy. Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith, and Hiawassee Council Amy Barrett and Kris Berrong attended the weekly forum.



Robin H. Webb

Towns County Board of Education holds first session of 2018, lists meeting dates

Dr. Darren Berrong

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Education met for their first work session of the year on Jan. 2, 2018.

Listed on the agenda was discussion of goals for system improvements. Board member-at-large Dr. Kilee Smith raised concern that “dead time” in classrooms is not efficiently utilized. “There shouldn’t be days where things aren’t being taught,” Smith expressed, stating an estimated average of up to three weeks per school year is spent idle. Vice Chairman Stan Chastain agreed, adding, “As long as (students) are in class, they should be learning something.” Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong mentioned many of the high school teachers have begun collecting cell phones from students as they enter class, and while he disagrees a vast period of time is being wasted, Berrong notes “everybody can improve.”

Also of interest was an update on the Department of Transportation (DOT) decision to include semi-synthetic opioid testing through random drug screening for bus drivers. The program will require testing for hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone. The change became effective on Jan. 1, 2018.

A three-month public fundraising campaign was approved for the high school varsity academic team, beginning Jan. 3. The academic team will be traveling to the National Championship Tournament April 26, 2018.

Field trip approval was granted for the middle and high school robotics teams at North Forsyth Middle School on Jan. 13, 2018.

As of Nov. 30, 2017, the Board of Education had received 14 percent of its 2018 local fiscal year revenue,  a total of 33 percent when combined with state funding. The local revenue is expected to drastically increase once property taxes are filed.  Of the 2018 fiscal year, 41.66 percent has been completed thus far. Also, $35,000 has been budgeted from federal revenue, none of which has been received at press time.

Towns County Board of Education 2018 meeting dates are as follows:


 2018 Meeting Schedule


Towns County Board of Education

67 Lakeview Circle, Suite C

Hiawassee, GA  30546



Pre-Board “Work Session” Meetings   

(First Monday of each month, except for January, April and September)


To be held at the Towns County Board of Education Office at 7 p.m.:


Jan. 2, 2018  (Tuesday)

Feb. 5, 2018

March 5, 2018

April 9, 2018  (2nd Monday)

May 7, 2018

June 4, 2018

July 2, 2018

August 6, 2018

Sept. 4, 2018  (Tuesday)

Oct. 1, 2018

Nov. 5, 2018

Dec. 3, 2018


“Regular” Board Meeting

(Second Monday of each month, except for April and October)


To be held at the Towns County School Auditorium at 7 p.m.:


Jan. 8, 2018

Feb. 12, 2018

March 12, 2018

April 16, 2018  (3rd Monday)

May 14, 2018

June 11, 2018


August 13, 2018

Sept. 10, 2018

Oct. 11, 2018  (Thursday)

Nov. 12, 2018

Dec. 10, 2018

All meetings are open to the public.

Parents, students, faculty and staff are always welcome.


(Featured Image: Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong)


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Robin H. Webb

Towns County BOE to advertise 2017 Tax Digest and 5-year history of Levy at roll-back rate, likely to allow half day August 21 for eclipse


Hiawassee, GA – Towns County Board of Education (TCBOE) convened on Monday, July 3, 2017 at 7 p.m. The Board agreed to roll the Workshop and the regular July Board Meeting into one session; therefore, there will be no need for a July Board Meeting the following Monday. Present were TCS Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong, Secretary to the Superintendent Paula Whitehead, TCS Director of Finance Myra Underwood and all Members of the TCBOE.

Dr. Berrong recommended that the Board approve advertising of the 2017 Tax Digest and a 5-year history of Levy at the roll-back rate. His recommendation was unanimously approved.

In his Superintendents Comments, Dr. Berrong expressed his concerns about the effect in Hiawassee of the upcoming eclipse on Sept. 21, 2017 and the impact on TCS. He said, at first, he felt that all the speculation about the effects of the eclipse on Hiawassee and Towns County was just so much talk. However, he said, recently he has received several phone calls about it and has had, for several reasons, a change of heart. Dr. Berrong recommended that the Board approve a half day on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. This recommendation will be voted on at the August Board Meeting (see video at bottom of article).

Board also unanimously approved on Dr. Berrong’s recommendation:
• The CTAE Budget Report
• Construction Manager: Charles Black of Cleveland, GA
• Annual Service bids for:
o Sanitation – Advanced Disposal
o Pest Control – Duncan Exterminating
o Propane – Appalachian Propane
• Elementary, Middle and High School Student Handbooks
• School Nutrition Employee Handbook
• Request for a Clay County student to attend Towns County Schools
• Resignations of:
o Special Education Paraprofessional
o Physical Education Teacher
o 5th Grade Elementary School Teacher
• Hiring of (after discussion in Executive Session):
o Substitute Bus Driver
o Elementary Paraprofessional for 2nd Grade
o Elementary School Teacher
o High School Spanish Teacher

Underwood updated the Board on Sick Bank (for teachers) and gave a report on the Financial Statement.

The Board unanimously approved the Consent Agenda:
• Fund Raisers:
o ES PTSO/Membership Drive/Aug. 1, 2017
o MS & HS PTSO/”Pick-a-Dollar Amount”/Aug. 1,2017
o ES/Spirit Pride Tees/Aug. 1 – Sept. 21, 2017
o MS School Council/Secret Santa Shop/December 2017
o ES School Council/Rock Garden Rock Sale/Spring 2017-18
o MS School Council/Penny Wars/2017-18 School Year
o MS School Council/Gift Basket Raffle/2017-18 School Year
o MS School Council/Snack Machine/2017-18 School Year
o MS School Council/Tupperware Sale/2017-18 School Year
o MS/Hat Day Every Friday/2017-18 School Year
o ES/Locker Rental Grades 4 & 5/2017-18 School Year
• Field Trips:
• Work Session Minutes/June 5, 2017
• Regular Board Meeting Minutes/June 12, 2017

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