Last Board of Education Meeting Shifts Personnel, Hears Noels

Gabrielle Haston conducts the DCHS choir for the entertainment of the Dade Board of Education (right) at the B of E's regular December meeting on Monday.

The regular December meeting of the Dade County Board of Education was held at Dade County High School Monday night, and as is traditional was much given to musical recitals of the yuletide persuasion by system students. But a little business was slotted in amongst your Run Run Rudolphs and your Heilige Nachts, including the following year-end personnel changes:

The board accepted the resignation of Jennifer Taylor from Davis Elementary’s special education program and of Alan Morris as assistant basketball coach at DCHS.

Misty Tierce, a teacher at Dade Elementary School, was granted leave.

Debra Brackett, currently Central Office’s director of special programs, was transferred to the position of director of federal programs/instruction.

Nikki McCurdy was hired as a teacher at DES. Barbara Fitzpatrick and Chee Chee (Sissi) Brandon were hired as paraprofessionals there. Corey Head was hired to teach math at DCHS, and Blake Crisp was promoted from part-time to full-time bus driver.

Sarah Blevins was approved as boys’ soccer coach at Dade Middle School, Ken Morris as lay coach and Dr. Jeff Scott as assistant baseball coach there.

The board heard Christmas music from talented Dade County High flutists and then from students in the Dade County High School choir, who then sped off in their tour bus for their next gig at Disney World on Wednesday. There they will constitute about 10 percent of a 300-voice student choir. Their teacher, Gabrielle Haston, explained that the youthful singers had auditioned successfully for the slot, and Schools Superintendent Jan Harris assured them the board was impressed. “We’re so proud of you,” said Dr. Harris.

Also singing, along with much dancing, gesturing, spirited strumming of air guitars and shaking of air bells, was the Davis School Choir (below). After the performance, board members distributed brightly colored goody bags to the diminutive divas and divos.

Board Chairwoman Carolyn Bradford announced that the system had approached two vendors for fuel bids and only one had submitted one. The board accordingly approved Jatt Oil’s bid to supply fuel at $2.285 per gallon. It also accepted Foster Electric’s low bid of $11,656 to change the schools to more efficient LED lighting. Dr. Harris noted in this regard that getting a more energy-efficient HVAC system had saved the school $52,000 in energy bills last year. “We closely monitor our bills,” said the super.

The board approved renewing the school’s system membership in GEC—the Georgia Educational Cooperative--after Dr. H explained it was a discount arrangement for cafeteria food and equipment supplies. “It just gives us a better price,” she said.

Also given the nod was $8037 in SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) funds for a security entrance system for the B of E office in front of the high school. This, said Dr. Harris, completes the system’s safety plan; all the schools are already outfitted with such systems.

Dr. Harris recommended and the board approved another $281,056 in SPLOST to buy 1600 Chromebooks for the schools. Dr. Harris said this will put the system’s ratio of student to Chromebook—a computer workstation on which most functions are internet cloud-based—at the desired one-to-one. She explained that the Chromebooks are not only “desperately needed for instruction” but that Georgia will shortly require all testing to be done on them. Currently, she said, about 50 percent of testing already is. “This is not a luxury,” she said. “It is something that will ultimately be required by the state.”

The board approved the schools' list of fundraisers minus an online category Dr. Harris said the system’s auditors had discouraged.

And it OKed $60,000 in SPLOST to McBryar Excavation for its low bid to begin initial work for the long-discussed cross-country course at DMS.

A state-of-the-art cross-country facility would bring other regional teams to Dade to compete, say coaches; but the board balked last year at the cost.

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