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BoE talks responsibilities, goals
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George Washington Carver Elementary’s fifth grade wing finishes preparations before doors open tomorrow for Open House. Melissa Hicks (shown) is one of Bryan County school district’s newest teachers, teaching fifth grade Language Arts and Science. - photo by Jessica Holhaus

The Board of Education’s called meeting Monday was filled with discussion of school improvement plans, just days before school doors open for the new year.

The members spent the meeting running down a list of board responsibilities and goals for the upcoming year.

"What we need to do today is have a discussion of any items that the board would like to see added to the plan for next year," said Dr. Sallie Brewer, superintendent for Bryan County schools.

- The board unanimously approved the continuation of a contract with ABC Counseling to serve RHHS, RHMS, BCHS, and BCMS.

The program works directly with students on work skills, or "how to get along," as Brewer put it.

- BoE member Billy Mock suggested that public speaking become more of focus. John Oliver, associate superintendent, said that speech is already part of drama electives. "One of the things we can do (in the core curriculum) to address this would be to make our staff aware that this is something that we’ve noticed, provide children organized opportunities – as we do presently – but perhaps put more of an emphasis on it," Oliver said.

- The majority of the board felt that with the schools also partly serving as "public parks," fences would keep the public off school property when school is not in session. This, they feel, will help preserve the facilities. The project had an original estimate at $350,000 for all nine schools and the board decided that additional estimates and investigations should be conducted.

- Brad Anderson, assistant superintendent, gave an update on four new security cameras that have been put into one of the schools. The video camera system provides "real time" with storage up to roughly three days on DVD. Anderson said the biggest concern was students getting into certain areas. "We’re going to take this as a test, and then expand on it," Chairman Eddie Warren said.

- The board decided not to add additional security officers to the schools. "We have one security officer for BCMS and BCHS, as well as one shared between RHMS and RHHS, both working for us through the sheriff’s department. I talked with the principals at that time, and both said one was all they could use," Brewer said. With the shared schools being in such close proximity to each other, one security person working per two schools has been enough.

- The board’s search continues for more bus drivers and bus monitors. This year, there is a shortage of six drivers. In the last three years, the county has increased bus driver salaries by almost $3,000. The positions offer training and full benefits.

- The board decided they want to make sure preventative maintenance is happening at the schools, and Brewer told them she would find out exactly what kind of system is used for making sure things like air-conditioner filters are replaced, etc.

- The schools are creating a brochure of all extracurricular (title nine) activities. They should be prepared for this year’s open houses, and will be available to the public.

- The board decided to research paperless meetings. "When you go out to your mailbox, you’re getting a couple packets a week, and it could’ve been done over the Internet. Not only will it save money, but it will become more efficient," Warren said. Anderson has already gone through the training, and Brewer said she would find out the next step.

- The Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee will meet four times this year, the first one will be mid-Sept. "They are people who are active in our schools already," Brewer said. "The school council elects the Parent Advisory; nobody has any input on who they are, primarily me," she said. Brewer said she will ask the committee to make a presentation at the PTSO, informing them of how it works and how to get information to them.

- In a SPLOST update, there now has to be a board letter to the justice department. The board cannot campaign SPLOST themselves, but has a list of people interested in volunteering to do it. Brewer said that all the paperwork is in place, but a community meeting still needs to be held. The board discussed using the public library conference rooms, and possibly holding one in both Pembroke and one in Richmond Hill.

- Warren voiced his feeling that the board needs to come up with ideas to raise money to help offset extracurricular activity costs. Brewer brought up one active idea that has already been analyzed. "We once thought we could not pay for the bus drivers (for sporting events)," she said. "We can afford to pay their drivers, but there needs to be some stipulations. If there’s a driver available who’s on regular time and one that’s available on overtime, you pick the regular time."

- Brewer said, overall, the schools are in good shape and the budget is a strong one compared to other districts. "We have money for things that come up that we don’t know about when we sit down to do the budget," she said. "We have our first tracks, we have bleachers everywhere, we have tennis courts, air-conditioned gyms – we have all kinds of things."

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