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By: Eddy Gifford, Publisher


The Dade County Board of Education held their first meeting of the new year on Monday night and it was a marathon.

The Board opened the meeting at 3:00 p.m. with three hours of training on finance led by Doug Eza. The meeting was finally adjourned after an hour and twenty minute executive session at 9:20 p.m.

During the three hour and twenty minute Special Called Meeting the Board covered a variety of items in preparation for next week’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Superintendent Shawn Tobin gave special recognition to Dade High School Teacher Tonya Gatlin and student Bobby Brimm to start the meeting.

Math Coach Sandy Bradley gave a detailed report to the Board on Math Matters In Dade County Schools.

Bradley pointed out that at the present time math scores are not good in Dade County but that the entire staff is working hard to correct this. Out of the 16 North Georgia schools in our district we rank from 13th to 15th in overall scores.

Bradley stated that, “Our current recipe for improvement in math achievement is professional learning, teacher collaboration, data driven standards based instruction, remediation for struggling students and parental and community awareness and involvement.”

“For the first time the entire system is focused on a common goal, improving math scores,” she added.

Bradley explained that state assessments are changing and therefore, we must change the way we teach.

Bradley stated that you see much more student engagement now and that is the key. Higher level thinking and problem solving, each day, each week, is now stressed in every class and grade level.

Bradley also stated that the rigor and complexity of the Common Core Math Curriculum might surprise you. She gave an example of a math problem and asks Board members what grade they though the question applied to.

While the answers varied the question was a fifth grade level question.

Dan Blevins, Transportation Director gave the Board updates on fuel consumption and reported on repairs that have been done to buses during the past month.

Dr. James Cantrell, CTAE Director gave the Board a brief update on his department as well.

Each school principal gave reports on their individual schools and the activities going on there.

Davis Elementary principal James Fahrney reported that attendance for the 15 December school days was 88.28%. He stated that they had been hit extremely hard by the flu and other illness and that on Monday only eight fourth grade students were present.

Tracy Blevins, Dade Elementary Principal reported attendance for Dec. was at 88.57% but seemed to be better since the Christmas break.

Karen demarche, Dade Middle Principal reported attendance at 87% and stated the “bug” had hurt their attendance as well.

Josh Ingle, Dade High Principal reported attendance at 88.25% and felt his attendance was somewhat effected by a surprise senior skip day.

The system attendance rate for December 3-21 was 88% as compared to 93.22% for the previous month.

Enrolment for that time period was down four students with 14 withdraws and 10 student enrollments.

During the December reporting period certified personnel took a total of 149 sick or personnel days with a total cost of substitute pay being $6,449.00. The system employs 175 certified personnel.

The non-certified personnel, 66 total, took a total of 83.5 sick or personnel days at a cost of $888.00.

Wilma Hulgan, School Nutrition Director reported on the school lunch program and suggests a change to a board policy at a later date.

During Superintendent Shawn Tobin’s report he emphasized the commitment to safety at the school and explained the cooperation between the 911 Center, Dade County Sheriff’s Department, the Trenton Police Department, Trenton Fire Department and the Dade County Commissioner’s Office.

The addition of another school resource officer, Christy Miles, is a big plus for Dade Middle School he stated.

Some of the items discussed for action at next week’s meeting were a band and chorus trip to New York City in March 2014.  Funds raising needs to start now for this trip and the Board is being asked to approve the trip now.

A safety issue at Dade Elementary concerning the addition of double doors for added security will be discussed as will the license renewal for Power School.

Superintendent Tobin explained that the Green House project at Dade Middle School is a collaborative effort with local groups including Kenny Gray Construction, Bull Moose, Dade Commissioners, Chris Bradford with Dade Gas and community member Brian Birchett and others.

The intent is to grow plants for the purpose of showing relevancy. Dade Middle School Science classes and others will be involved.

State travel reimbursement has been raised from .555 per mile to .565 per mile. That amount was last changed in April of last year.

The Board then reviewed several board policies for action in some at a future Board meeting.

The Board will have a special called meeting on February 11 to view possible renovation projects for the summer. Those include viewing the track, press box, tennis courts, bath rooms and video broadcast lab at the High School. They will also view the parking lot and gym at Dade Elementary and the gym at Dade Middle School.

The Board will then reconvene at the Board of Education Office for a work session.

In action items the Board rescinded the Board Policy pertaining to Home Schooling since they no longer are responsible for that area. The Georgia Department of Education now monitors Home Schooling.

The Board also approved a fuel bid from Jat Oil for $3.3089 per gallon for 7,200 gallons.

The Board then went into executive session to discuss personnel and after an hour and twenty minutes returned adjourned.

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