HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Education (BOE) approved multiple staff additions for Towns County Schools at their regular work session on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.
The individuals were accepted as follows:
Middle School Basketball Cheerleading Coach – Sara Ewing
Middle School Baseball Assistant Community Coach – Zeke Gribble
Custodian – Windy Thompson
Fundraisers for the Elementary School Council, Middle and High School Basketball teams, and a Middle School trip to New York were approved by the Board. In addition, a third grade field trip to the smokey Mountain Theatre in Franklin, NC, was authorized for Oct. 18, and a High School Journalism class trip to the University of Georgia Tate Center was accepted.
Financial Director Myra Underwood delivered the financial statement, including an increase of $120,000 in the General Fund, according to the Department of Education’s final report which ended in June, 2018. The figure amounts to six percent under budget for the previous fiscal year.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County students are scheduled to return for the 2018-2019 school year tomorrow, Aug. 16.
First-stage renovations to the school campus have been completed on time, and a second school resource officer is signing on to provide additional safety measures for students and staff.
Towns County Board of Education decided at their regular monthly meeting on Aug. 13, to hire Towns County Sheriff’s Deputy Sally Tanner to fill the role. Tanner, a former Union County school resource officer, has served with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office since 2017. Tanner will be assigned to the elementary school, with veteran Resource Officer Donnie Jarrard manning the middle- and high school areas.
Towns County Board of Education voted unanimously at a special-called meeting on July 19 that a second school resource officer was in the best interest of student safety, as Officer Jarrard has been assigned to traffic duty in the past, when classes begin and end each day, and often travels with students out-of-town for field trips and to sporting events.
Towns County Board of Education will be responsible for funding 75 percent of the cost of the additional officer, with the remaining 25 percent taken from the Towns County Sheriff’s Office budget.
As for the renovations, the second phase is expected to begin next summer, and will include an updated fire alarm system, electrical rewiring, painting, and new flooring and doors. The construction that occurred this summer consisted of roof replacement and an overhaul to the HVAC system.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Education proposed a rollback millage rate of 7.671 percent during a special-called meeting on the morning of Tuesday, July 31. An additional meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 23, for Board’s final approval. The session will take place at 7:30 a.m. at the Board of Education office at 67 Lakeview circle in Hiawassee.
Towns County Superintendent Darren Berrong credits a steady increase in real estate values for the rollback, which was set at 7.956 percent in 2017. Real and Personal Property values in Towns County rose from over $731 million in 2013 to nearly $806 million in 2018.
“(The millage rate) is not a reduction in revenue for us, however,” Berrong stated, “It’s actually an increase of revenue of $40,000 which isn’t a significant increase for an individual taxpayer.” Berrong recommended acceptance to advertise the rollback rate, with the Board unanimously approving the motion.
In addition, Towns County Board of Education approved the recommendation of Substitute Teacher Patricia “Trish” Cook, and Community Coach Tyler Crawford during Tuesday’s meeting.
Dr. Berrong stated that campus renovation is proceeding on schedule, with classes resuming on Aug. 16. Berrong said he has not received negative feedback from the community on the Board’s recent discussion on arming school personsell. Berrong says he plans to seek additional input from the community at an upcoming Lions Club meeting. The superindendent made mention of the third table-top emergency responder forum on school safety, scheduled for Aug. 6, disclosing that the school safety plan implemented must first be “approved by all emergency personell.” Detailed information concerning the plan will not be made available to the general public due to the safety-sensitive nature of the issue. As previously reported, the Board approved the hiring of a second school resourse officer to increase the safety level at Towns County Schools.
Towns County Board of Education will meet for their monthly work session at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 6, at the administrative office. Meetings are open to the public.
(Feature Image: Superintendent Darren Berrong (left) with Board member Robert Williams at Tuesday’s meeting)
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Education approved the final adoption of the 2018-2019 budget June 11, 2018. FetchYourNews (FYN) spoke with Financial Director Myra Underwood on the afternoon of Thursday, June 22, regarding the capital project fund applied to campus renovation. The state of Georgia is expected to reimburse the Board of Education between 50 to 80 percent of the associated costs. The renovation is in the first phase which includes replacing the roof and an upgrading the air conditioning system.
“The biggest change from last year’s budget to this year is the capital project budget,” Underwood explained, “The grant started this year, but we’re going to roll over into next year. This project is three million dollars, and we’ll be reimbursed as we go along, but we’re doing it two different years. We had to add that three million dollars into next year’s budget too because we don’t know how far along we’ll be.”
The 2018-2019 budget balances at $25,049,643, with $13,776,728 in the general fund, $5,272,915 in special revenues, and $6,000,000 for capital project funding.
“There’s not a big increase in the general fund budget where you get your property taxes from, other than just the benefits and things like that,” Underwood continued. When teaching staff receive an upgrade, for reasons such as advanced certification, retirement benefits expand from 16 to 20 percent.
Underwood said that the campus renovation is advancing on schedule, and although previously delayed due to the construction, the 2018-2019 school year is projected to commence August 16.
Towns County Board of Education is scheduled to meet for their monthly work session at 67 Lakeview Circle in Hiawassee on Monday, July 2, at 7:00 p.m.
Meetings are open to the public.
Feature Photo: TCS Financial Director Myra Underwood
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Renovation to Towns County School is scheduled to begin after graduation May 18, says Towns County Superintendent Darren Berrong. The 40-year-old school buildings are in desperate need of roof replacement, upgraded wiring, and HVAC systems.
The Towns County Board of Education applied for a $3.3 million modernization grant in 2017, based on an estimate from Robertson Loia Roof, an architectural firm located in Alpharetta, Georgia. Due to the true cost of the renovation, amounting to $4.3 million, the school board has since decided to delay the wiring process, which includes LED lighting, until next year, when additional Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds become available.
During the summer, a heating unit will be installed in the elementary school gym, drop celings will be added to support the addition of larger HVAC units – along with the HVAC system themselves – and the roof will be replaced. The cost associated with the planned construction amounts to $3.6 million. Towns County School will pay the contractors, then submit the bills to the state for reimbursement. The timetable for reimbursement is unclear at this time.
In the event of a budget overage, Berrong says SPLOST funds will be used to avoid a shortage to school operating costs and payroll while awaiting reimbursement.
Renovation is expected to commence shortly after graduation in order for construction to be completed before the 2018-2019 school year begins. The final phase of renovation is expected to conclude by the end of July, with time to reorganize classrooms before the next school year takes effect.
Towns County School qualified for the state modernization grant due to the age of the buildings, and the Board of Education believes the renovations are well-warranted.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Education Post 2 candidate, Bradi Rutan, introduced herself to the community at the weekly meeting of Mountain Movers & Shakers April 27, 2018.
Rutan, a mother of two students, said she will bring her experience as a mental health professional to the school board if elected. The licensed clinical social worker’s merits include 14 years of history working in the adolescent and geriatric psychiatric fields.
“My background is in mental health. Not that I want to impose mental health in the school system, but I think that having someone inclined and trained in the mental health area can be beneficial in Towns County Schools,” Rutan stated.
The social worker spoke in favor of Avita Community Partners, a public agency formed in 1993 by the Georgia Legislature to address the mental health needs of both children and adults in 13 northeast Georgia counties.
“Mental health is a huge area of need that I think needs to be more established in the schools,” Rutan continued. “I feel the most important role (for board members) is being the ears of the entire community and advocating for the needs to the members of the school board.”
The candidate also noted the economic struggles many families and students in the area face, saying she feels that schools should be a “safety zone” for children.
The primary election takes place May 22, 2018.
Tamie Bradley, of Young Harris, will appear on the ballot, vying for Post 2 as well.
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HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The qualification period for three seats on the Towns County Board of Education came to a close at noon Friday, March 9, 2018.
Post 1 – Macedonia
Robert C. Williams (incumbent)
Post 2 – Young Harris
Post 3 – Hiawassee
Stan Chastain (incumbent)
The General and Nonpartisan Primaries will be held May 22, 2018.
The General Election will take place Nov. 6, 2018.
Follow FetchYourNews for continued coverage as Election 2018 advances.