D19 approves overtime for maintenance staff

  • Dr. Shawn Johnson presents Joshua Saxton with a Career Facilitator certificate. Saxton was able to complete the course in less than the usual time of a year.

While most of District 19 school employees will be on vacation over the holidays, the male maintenance staff has been approved for overtime to make improvements to Blackville’s school buildings.

The D19 School Board on Dec. 11 unanimously approved a request from Superintendent Dr. Shawn Johnson for the overtime needed.

Johnson said the employees are not required to work but have been given the opportunity for the extra time needed to strip and replace wax from the floors. “If we do it now, we won’t have to do it again until the end of the school year,” Dr. Johnson explained to the board. He noted that the AdvancED team will be coming to the district in April and the floors will improve the appearance of the buildings.

Board chairman Carroll Priester said the numerous improvements to the buildings “have been amazing” and thanked Dr. Johnson.

Other action taken by the board was to approve five policy updates. Those updates include BED Executive Session/Open Meetings, GDBC-R Support Staff Supplementary Pay/Overtime, GCB Professional Staff Contracts and Compensation, GCQF-R Discipline, Suspension and Dismissal of Professional Staff, and IKA-R Grading/Assessment Systems (uniform grading).

Board member Karen Jowers made a suggestion for the policy relating to closed sessions. She said the board should schedule its closed sessions so they will conclude by 4:30 p.m. so the public is better able to schedule attendance.

“We want to encourage people to come. That is an imposition on them. We should be able to say that it is wound up at 4:30,” she said.

Often there are those in the public who come to a meeting but sit outside for long periods of time until the school board returns to open session. Jowers said having the board adjust their schedules would be better for the public.

The board used to schedule closed sessions at the end of their meetings but now has them scheduled at the beginning of the meeting.

The other board members concurred with Jowers’ suggestion.

Personnel action taken following the 30-minute closed session included acceptance of a resignation of a staff member from the high school and resignation of a bus driver. Both were approved unanimously.

The board also approved funding for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program and the district Christmas party. Funding of $460.26 for the DARE program and $3,863.34 for the Christmas party was approved unanimously.

Dr. Johnson said both were in the budget but he wanted line item approvals to be recorded for audit purposes.

Audit

The board was scheduled to receive an audit report from Jim McGuire but he did not arrive at the meeting.

The audit report was postponed to the January meeting.

Federal programs

Director of Federal Programs David Corder said a teacher incentive program ended last year and was not renewed by the state but the good news is that District 19 is going to be awarded some money for professional development for teachers at Macedonia Elementary.

He said they are in year three of a school improvement grant and “we have done some shifting around to keep some of the funds for teacher performance at the elementary school,” said Corder.

He also reported that a payout is coming up in January for teachers at the elementary and middle schools. “The 40 percent match will be taken care of with the school improvement grant,” he said.

Corder also reported that the district has received money from the Abbeville capital needs project. “We advertised for bids a couple of weeks ago and those bids have been posted.”

A $147,000 bid from SRS Heating and Cooling was originally selected to improve heating and air conditioning at the elementary and high school gymnasiums, but the company withdrew their name. The district then awarded the project to Neely’s out of Denmark at a cost of $168,491.

A $70,005 bid was awarded to Bonitz Flooring Group for flooring in select areas of Blackville-Hilda High (BHHS), Blackville-Hilda Middle (BHMS) and Macedonia Elementary (MES).

A $165,000 bid was awarded to Inlaw Construction for improvements to restrooms at MES and BHHS.

The district is also getting a quote on improvements to doors at the schools.

Corder reported that security systems are already being installed at all three schools. The project includes cameras and keyless security entry for teachers. He said all exterior doors will be locked at all times and teachers will be issued cards which can be scanned to unlock doors. Otherwise, those wanting to enter the school buildings will have to be “buzzed in”.

Dr. Johnson said a lot of the construction work will take place over the school holidays.

Technology

Technology specialist Daphne Wood said MAP testing was being held and would be finished on Friday, Dec. 15.

She said work on the district and teacher website pages is in progress.

Wood said they have also been working on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance for the websites.

She said Promethean Boards are scheduled to be installed in January and teachers will be trained. “Every classroom teacher will have one,” said Wood. “You will be impressed with them.”

She said the boards look like televisions and can interact wirelessly with students and teachers using Chromebooks.

Dr. Johnson said the elementary school technology upgrades are done, middle school “probably has the most technology” with Apple technology, and the focus now will be on the high school.

Wood said the district is working on perfecting data entry. “The state has access to this data after they are uploaded. It is critical that our clerks and anyone responsible for inputting data be accurate.”

She said the data is used for all kinds of decision making and providing accurate data is necessary.

“We have got to make sure our data is clean at all times,” said Wood. “We have to be proactive.”

Recognitions

Recognized by the board were incoming board member Bill DeLoach and Career Facilitator Joshua Saxton.

DeLoach was recently appointed to the board to replace George Fickling who resigned. The December meeting was Deloach’s first board meeting.

Deloach said, “I want to thank my fellow board members for appointing me to this position. It’s all about kids. Each and every day I want our children to have the best education possible.”

Joshua Saxton was recognized for completing certification as a Career Facilitator.

Johnson said certification usually takes a year or longer to obtain but Saxton completed it in much less time. “He is now working on hours for global certification,” said Johnson.

Saxton was presented with his certification by Dr. Johnson.

Christmas gift

At the end of the meeting Dr. Johnson presented each member with a gift certificate paid for by the superintendent. “These were not purchased with public funds,” he noted.

He said he appreciated the board’s support and said, “I think we have an open line of communication. I think we have a well-run organization.”