Buildings updated, new buses purchased
Jones County Board of Education members met the morning after their August meeting to set their 2018 millage rate, which had no increase to taxpayers.
The Aug. 15 meeting was brief but was necessary to comply with the dates advertised in the required millage adoption process. No public hearings were required because there was no tax rate increase.
The school system millage rate will remain at 18 mills, where it has been since the last tax increase in 2016. Tax Commissioner Brian Jackson attended the Aug. 15 meeting for the required document signing, and the meeting was adjourned immediately after.
The Aug. 14 Board of Education meeting was called to order by chairman Ginger Bailey.
In his superintendent’s report, Chuck Gibson started with the request for thoughts and prayers for the families of Denise Etheridge and Wendy Nunnemaker.
Nunnemaker was a teacher at Wells Elementary and died Aug. 5. Etheridge, a math teacher at JCHS, died Aug. 11.
“Decades of students were impacted by these educators,” Gibson stated. “We are blessed because, in our time of grief, the community of Jones County holds us up and wraps its arms around us.”
The superintend then recognized David Jones, who has had two concerts for Jones County schools and is planning another one Sept. 8 at the Lions Club Fairgrounds.
“We appreciate David for giving back to the community,” Gibson said.
Proceeds from the first concert in 2016 were donated to purchase batting cages at Jones County High School, and last year the funds went to classroom teachers to help purchase supplies for students.
Jones said this year the concert is dedicated to his sister, Jessica, who suffered from Rett syndrome, and the proceeds will be donated to the special education program.
“It’s more personal this year. Jessica was in the program here, and I understand there is always a need,” he said.
Jones said the concert is not an official school event, but all profits will go to the school. He said he feels like he is the major beneficiary of the concerts.
“I really feel selfish because I get so much out of doing this,” he added.
Adrianna Hernandez presented a back to school update by sharing her first monthly newsletter. The senior is the school communication intern for the school year.
Literacy coordinator Amy Marlowe gave an overview of the literacy training sessions that took place over summer break. She said a Literacy Continuum was held June 7-8 and Innovation Summit June 13-14. Marlowe said she attended the kickoff for the L4GA grant in Athens June 21-22 and the grant summer literacy institute June 26-27.
The coordinator said the district literacy team that would include principals and instructional coaches would be working toward implementing the action steps outlined in the district literacy plan.
Marlowe said she attended the back to school bash at Wells Elementary, and hundreds of books were passed out to Jones County students. She also described the Veterans Day Multimedia contest, which has a Sept. 24 deadline for entries. She said the contest was open to students in grades five through 12 and has a WWI theme.
In conclusion, she said the bookmobile’s roll out was upcoming.
“We are so close to a big reveal,” Marlowe said.
Jones County College and Career Academy CEO Laura Rackley had a progress report for the academy. She said academic and organizational goals were being met, and she was excited to announce the award of a Junior ROTC program to JCHS through the Army.
Rackley said dual enrollments were up to 346 students, including classes in construction, certified nurse aids and welding.
The CEO even gave board members homework, asking them to review the career academy grant documents and give their feedback.
Clinton Burston presented the 2018 enrollment numbers, and as of Aug. 14, 5,300 students were enrolled in Jones County Schools. He said that number was down from 5,364 enrolled in 2017.
Burston added that he was working to account for about 80 students who were currently no-shows.
Mary Frances Stewart reported about what was happening with the Standards-Based Initiative. She said data was being gathered to see where schools are, and next week, teams would be in the schools to observe classrooms.
Stewart said, after all the data was gathered, professional learning sessions would be tailored to the needs.
Board member Dr. Nancy Nash said she was excited about the leadership at the Central Office.
“Thank you for all your hard work,” she said.
Gibson presented the first financial report for the school year. He said 8.33 percent of the year was complete, and total revenues were $3,306,213, which is 6.46 percent of the budget. The expenditures were $4,246,033, 8.80 percent of the budget, and the ending cash balance was $10,860,219.
He said some cosmetic work was done at each school over the summer and announced the school system would receive 16 new buses this year. All the buses use gasoline.
Perhaps the best part of that report was the buses would all be air-conditioned.
The superintendent said the school system had no ill affects from the bypass, and sales tax collections were averaging $179,997.
• Board members unanimously adopted the new employee assistance program offered through the school system’s insurance broker, ShawHankins.
• The bid from Frank Taylor Enterprises was also unanimously approved for land clearing. The company’s bid of $22,500 included an $11,250 donation to the Jones County FFA program.
• A capital outlay project for fiscal year 2020 was adopted that Gibson
explained was the first step in the process for modification and improvements to Dames Ferry Elementary School.
• The board meeting was adjourned to go into closed session.
• A work session is scheduled at 3 p.m. Sept. 6, and the next board meeting is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 11. All meetings are held in the Professional Learning/ Board Room at 131 Gordon Street.