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Community News Feb 17th, 2021 - 15:45:52

Vacant BOE seat filled at monthly meeting.

By Dave Whitaker
Feb 17, 2021, 17:39

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It was a busy night for the Bleckley County Board of Education as they interviewed two candidates for the District 1 vacancy prior to the regular monthly meeting. The two people who had applied for the position were Melissa Stewart and James Hagler.

Each were interviewed regarding their positions during a work session held at 6 pm. As no votes are taken during work sessions, both stayed for the regular meeting. When nominations were open to fill the District I seat, board chair Mike Sasser nominated Stewart.

It was seconded by Amy Williams. Diane Lester made the motion to close nominations, seconded by Shanna Evans. The board unanimously approved Stewart. She will be sworn in by Probate Judge Jonathan Fordham.

As part of his report, Superintendent Dr. Steve Smith provided an update on the new primary school and stadium renovation projects. Smith said work continues on the school ahead of schedule despite recent rain.

Regarding the stadium renovations, Smith said estimates had come in a bit higher than originally budgeted but not enough to jeopardize anything. He said the upcoming March 2 work session where board members will hear from district team leaders would likely be turned into a called meeting/work session so a GMP (Greatest Maximum Price) could be voted on for the work.

The meeting/work session will be held at 6 pm in the high school auditorium. The next part of athletic renovations to be bid out will be tennis courts at the middle school.

Approved was the purchase of a 72-passenger Blue Bird Bus from Yancey Bus Sales for $89,800. The recommendation came from Transportation Director Stan Thompson. The price was standard for one with air conditioning. While no other manufacturers provided quotes, Smith said it wasn’t uncommon when it was realized a district preferred a certain manufacturer. The purchase will come from the general fund, which was included as part of the general fund budget.

A discussion was held regarding a recent COVID-19 vaccine survey among staff. Smith said almost 50 percent plan to get the vaccine once school employees become eligible for the vaccination. Smith asked the board to go on record stating while the district strongly encourages everyone to be vaccinated, no one would be compelled to as a condition of employment.

Board members agreed with this stance. Sasser noted that it was teachers being willing to work despite the risks that allowed them to provide in-person school. He saw no need to “upset the apple cart.”

From the executive session: The board approved the resignation and release of John Ford, effective February 5. Ford was hired as head football coach of Effingham County High School. Courtney White was added as high school girls soccer volunteer with the understanding that all volunteers would be added to the coaching list so people could see who had undergone a background check.

Dylan Cole was added as a high school girls tennis assistant coach. Also approved was Smith’s recommendation regarding the payment of a special supplement as recommended by Governor Brian Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods with Smith noting the State Board of Education hadn’t yet approved the payment.

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