Dr. Jan Harris, superintendent of schools, took the opportunity of Monday's regular September meeting of the Dade Board of Education to honor Bradley Nelson, the 2018 Dade County High School graduate who caught the county's eye on Aug. 7 when he rushed to the aid of fallen Dade deputy Tommy Bradford.
(Photo: From left, Dr. Harris, Nelson and board chair Carolyn Bradford)
Young Nelson was passing by on Highway 11 when Maj. Bradford was run down by an Alabama woman leading police from two states on a high-speed chase through Dade. Nelson stopped and used his belt as a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding of Maj. Bradford, who lost the lower part of his left leg in the incident. Aug. 7 made a profound impression on the youth, and he decided to take emergency medical technician training; and his help to Maj. Bradford in turn impressed community leaders--including Dade EMS Director and Trenton Mayor Alex Case--so much that Nelson was awarded a scholarship for the training.
Nelson said he was currently employed by Little Caesar Pizza but that he had now been offered a job as a Dade 911 dispatcher and would start soon. "You're off to a good start," said school board member Gen. Bob Woods (retired). As for board chairperson Carolyn Bradford--incidentally the mother of Maj. Tommy Bradford--"I just want to say thank you," she told Nelson.
School board meetings are not generally known for drama, but there's still more to report from the Sept. 17 one: Dr. Harris had just visited in the hospital the 12-year-old Dade Middle School student who was shot through the chest on Saturday, and she had a message from him for his classmates and the public--or rather three:
(1) That he and his friend had only been playing, and no one should be mad at the friend for the shooting accident: "He helped save my life." The other boy had helped stop the blood and "done everything right," the wounded boy told Dr. Harris. (Both boys have remained officially unnamed by law enforcement and the school system.)
(2) "Tell my classmates I love them."
(3) "I'm tough and I'm going to be fine."
Dr. Harris said the boy was, in fact, doing miraculously well indeed considering he'd taken a bullet through his chest. "It missed his heart by one-half of an inch," she said.
Dr. Sandra Spivey, DMS principal, had also visited the student, said the super. "Dade loves you and is praying for you," Dr. Harris assured the wounded boy.
In other business...
On a more mundane note, the school board approved a fuel bid from Jatt Oil for $2.2488 a gallon. It approved a bid of $21,500 from JC Electric for a new gate at Dade Middle School to block off the just-completed access road associated with the new cross-country track. Bids of $8100 and $9959.20, respectively, from Forester Electricity and Sports Floors were accepted for the new lighting and gym floor refinishing.
A larger amount--$235,240--was approved to replace the air conditioning unit at DMS. This was not bid locally but awarded through ABM, the Alabama company currently under contract to improve energy efficiency and lower utility costs throughout the school system. ABM officials at the meeting explained the AC replacement had been an emergency job and they had used a vendor they were familiar with from previous work, but will be happy to hear from local vendors in the future. "We want local people to have the opportunity to bid on any jobs," said Dr. Harris.
How are local vendors to do that, since jobs won't be bid out locally? The ABM officials said those interested should make themselves known to the super or to Dr. James Cantrell, operations director of Dade Schools.
All the above amounts will come from the system's SPLOST (special purchase local option sales tax) funds.
Dr. Cantrell, giving his monthly operations report, said the new LED signs at Dade Elementary and Dade Middle should be lit up this Thursday. He said the job of installing solar panels at the high school was 98 percent complete and the expected reduction in the school's electric bill should be visible within a billing cycle.
The school board also approved a change to the teachers' retirement policy that will allow teachers to borrow against retirement funds for education as well as emergency needs; raised the cost threshold of goods and services required to be placed out for bid from $5000 to $10,000; finalized a previously discussed parental participation policy; and took steps to raise its own board training level from "quality" to "distinguished."
"We are raising the bar in all areas of Dade County Schools," said the superintendent.
After an executive session on personnel, the board approved hiring Jan Harvey as food service bookkeeper, Kevin Poland as DCHS custodian, Rhiannon York and Martha Kyzer as paraprofessionals at DES, Rose Francis as a custodian at DMS, and Jackie Guffey and Chuck Carvey for half-time maintenance. James Fowler was made lay coach for DMS boys' basketball and Dodi Collier was hired for the aftercare program at DES. Tasha Denton and Shannon McCord were approved as substitute teachers and Faye Gray as a substitute bus aide.
The next regularly scheduled school board meeting is at 5 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the B of E's office in front of the high school off Highway 136 East.