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Morton: Schools are set for great things in 09
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New Bryan County Board of Education Vice Chairman Jeff Morton told the Richmond Hill Exchange Club he expects great things to happen throughout the seven county schools in 2009.

As the guest speaker of the Club’s Jan. 14 meeting, Morton also spoke about school matters he will encounter in his first term as Vice Chair. This ranged from out of state travel to the new middle school to new board members to AYP.

Morton started off by complimenting the Club’s Student of the Month program

"We need to reward those students that work hard and go above and beyond their everyday studies. It encourages others to work hard as well."

Morton commented on outgoing BoE members Billy Mock and Frances Meeks, "who have contributed a lot to this great system." He also commented on new members Dennis Seger and Charlie Johnson.

"What the new members lack in experience, they make up for in being very active in their communities. The board is supposed to represent the people and both are very involved with their communities. Both are very enthusiastic about their terms as well."

Morton said 2009 will be a tough year for the BoE budget. He said school money comes from the state and it is always one of the first things to get cut. He said reductions at the state level have cost the system $7 million over the past six years, but healthy tax revenue has rescued them from having to cut services.

He said the BoE has lowered their millage rate for the past seven years, but he sees where that is in jeopardy of not occurring for the coming year.

Morton said there are currently 7,000 students in the system, and Richmond Hill High School is near capacity at 1,400 students. He said the current middle school will soon become part of RHHS, and plans for a new middle school off Daniel Siding Road, near Waterford, are in the works. He said the new Richmond Hill Elementary School will be ready either the end of this year or next year.

Exchange Club member Lynn Bennett asked about AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) status. Morton said Bryan County High and Middle Schools did not meet the requirements a couple years back, but BCHS "got off this past year and the middle school is working its way up. You have to meet for two years until you can be taken off."

Exchange Club member Harry Brigdon asked if everything got worked out to where school fundraisers could be held at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. Morton said they can be held there upon principal approval. He said he endorses having school events at Beef’s because it a family restaurant and the owners do a lot to support the schools.

When asked about out of state travel, Morton said the board has now reached a point where each proposed school is considered and voted upon for approval or disapproval. He last year’s RHHS Odyssey of the Mind team, which was allowed to travel to Maryland after earning the right to compete in the state competition there.

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