Awards Rife at April B of E Meeting

Ella Case embarks on the rocky road of the writer's life with a first-place Young Authors award she won for her story about ice skating. Administering the honor are, from left, Carolyn Bradford of the Dade Board of Education, Academic Coach Darlene Rogers and Superintendent of Schools Jan Harris. Treasure the sweet times, Ella! Trust The Planet, kid, it ain't all roses and confetti.

The year is moving into spring, the school calendar is hurtling toward the blessed consummation of summer break, and Dade County Board of Education meetings are getting beyond standing-room-only as the school system squeezes in opportunities to honor its own. Thus on Monday evening attendees spilled out of the boardroom and into the halls as administration, staff and students assembled for pins, plaques, certificates and photo opps.

Both Dade Elementary School and Davis Elementary staffs were honored with Title 1 Reward School status for their accomplishments in improving academic achievement. Below, Davis principal Josh Ingle (holding banner, right) brought James Fahrney in (holding banner, left) to share the glory, as Farhney was the principal at Davis last year. The two switched jobs beginning this year, and Fahrney now heads up Dade County High School. The board also honored Principal Tracy Blevins of Dade Elementary and her faculty and staff.

An extensive lineup of young writers also marched to the front Monday night to take prizes for their compositions. These included Ella Case, pictured above, as well as Ella Rose Wheeler McBryar for a story about rain puddles, Sophia Varricchio (magical dragon), Aalia Varricchio (caring and loving) and Hutchinson "H" Garmany ("I wrote two stories, one about life, the other about an imaginary creature.").

Students from Davis Elementary Chloe Ballard, Ruth Pack and Arianna Clayton also took writing prizes.

Meanwhile, another group of elementary school students got a little appreciation for their work establishing a school newspaper. "We need to have a newspaper at every school," said Dr. Jan Harris, superintendent of schools."

Youthful DES newspaper staffers hold up their plaques. Way to go, troops! Remember what Thomas Jefferson said about governments without newspapers versus newspapers without governments. The Planet is pretty sure TJ would have felt precisely the same about schools and newspapers. Possibly more so.

​​Dr. Harris herself was saluted by board chair Carolyn Bradford with two roses signifying her years of service with the system. And her own literary efforts were hailed by students MaKaela Chance and Cohen Blevins (left), who gave a presentation on character education as outlined in the super's book, Leadership According to Solomon.

There were too many awards to list and too many photo opps even for the florid style and eagerly snapping camera of The Dade Planet. There was also, lest we forget, a little ordinary board business toward the end of the evening lineup:

The board approved an agreement with Sielox Inc. concerning the system's telecenter; approved slight changes to its homeless policy that had been previously proposed and tabled for comment; accepted bids for gasoline, interior renovation at Davis Elementary, web hosting and mobile applications; and okayed photography contracts.

The board got a request for funds for instrument cleaning and repair from Dade Band leaders Chris (right) and Heather Chance, along with some eye-opening background as to how they got dirty and damaged. Ms. Chance told the story of one particular band sousaphone player who had a poor sense of direction and a habit of walking into walls. Mr. Chance added: "Doorways are usually lower than tubas on students' shoulders."

He went on to detail how trumpet players' breakfasts routinely found their way into their horns.

The Chances said they taught students how to give their instruments tub baths, but that not all were immersible and of the ones that were not all would fit. He explained professional cleaners had ultrasonic cleaning machines and that sending instruments off for baths in them ran about $125 per piece, he said. Adding in professional repair costs would bring per-instrument maintenance per year up to about $200, and he was asking for $23,000 based on those figures to begin a three- or four-year rotation for cleaning and maintenance of the band's instruments.

The board and super all expressed devotion to and support for the band--"I twirled a baton when I was in the band," said Dr. H.--but asked how much it would cost to buy a cleaning machine. Hearing the cost was $7- to $10,000, and performing the initial math, they asked the Chances to explore the possibility of buying one big enough to clean the majority of the instruments, if not the tubas.

Meanwhile, Chairwoman Bradford called for a motion to approve an initial $7,666.67 to get the maintenance rotation underway. The motion passed though members Cindy Shaw and Gen. Bob Woods voted no pending more information.

After an executive, or closed-door session, the board made the following personnel changes:

Contracts for the 2018-19 school year were approved for all four school principals, Tracy Blevins of DES, Josh Ingle of Davis, Dr. Sandra Spivey of Dade Middle School and James Fahrney of DCHS. Contracts were also approved for the directors of: Federal Programs, Debra Brackett; Special Programs, Temperance Shults; School Nutrition, Dr. Cleta Long; Academics, Patti Johnson; Operations, Dr. James Cantrell; and Finance, Paula Stallings.

The board accepted the resignations of Joshua Boydston, an agricultural teacher at the high school, and Lynne Heath, a third-grade teacher at DES.

Judy Gossett, a paraprofessional at DES, was granted leave.

David Thompson was transferred from his position as custodian at DCHS to Dade Middle to replace Rainey Hartman, the custodian there, who is leaving.

The next meeting of the Dade Board of Education is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Monday, May 21, at the B of E's office in front of Dade High off Highway 136 East.

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