Three special recognitions were made at the Tift County Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.
Tift Regional Medical Center donated $10,000 to help with the purchase of medical supplies for the TCBOE’s school nurse clinics during the 2012-2013 school year and to help offset some of the expense.
Stacey Beckham, assistant director of Outreach and Development at TRMC, told the board, “We’re happy to do a part to help keep the kids healthy a little while longer.”
Also, Chairman Dr. Shawn Utley’s daughter, Katie, was recognized for her achievement as the pole vault state champion. Athletic Director Rusty Smith introduced Katie to the board by stating that it was an honor to recognize another great athlete. He said Katie is a two-time state pole vault champion, which is an unbelievable feat.
Smith called up Coach Chris Martin to the podium. He said Martin has been with him for a long time and loves track and field. He added, “He’s the guy we go to.”
Martin told the board that he was proud to be there, and also honored to recognize Katie. He said in 2011, she earned the 1-AAAAA state title in the pole vault with a 10’6” leap. She also cleared a height of 11’ to win the title this past season.
He noted that she has set her personal best of 11’7”, but her goal is to clear a height of 12’. He explained that Katie will be unable to defend her title as pole vault state champion in Class AAAAA, because Tift County has moved up to Class AAAAAA. However, this will give her a chance to set a record for Class AAAAAA.
Utley and his wife, Melissa, appeared proud of their daughter’s accomplishments. The board asked that Katie show them her two state champion rings.
Shaquille Bryant, state discus champion, was unable to attend the meeting due to having to return to Georgia Military College, said Smith. He informed the board that Bryant will be back in Tifton in December — he will be recognized then for his accomplishment.
According to a Gazette sports article, Bryant captured the Class AAAAA championship in discus this past May with a throw of 164-10.
During the meeting, the board also heard from Coastal Plains RESA (Regional Educational Service Agency) concerning the Tift County 21st Century Learning Center/Department of Education after-school program.
Director Harold Chambers and Bobbie Rakestraw explained that they got approval for a four-year 21st Century grant this year to focus on an after-school program for at-risk students at Tift County High School and Northeast Campus.
This program will be administered through RESA and will employ 14 people. Rakestraw said they will work with students on homework completion, those who haven’t passed the portion of the graduation test, resume building, etc. Students will have to be referred to the program by a teacher, counselor, social worker or anyone in the school system. A student’s parents cannot refer them. Once a student is referred, parents will then be notified and invited to register their child.
Chambers stated that they want to focus on at-risk students who want to go immediately into the workforce after high school. He said they hope to serve 100 students at TCHS and 30 at Northeast Campus. They expect to offer the program from 3:30 to 6:30 every afternoon after school. Students will be served snacks during this time. They will also have the opportunity to go on field trips, Rakestraw noted.
She said students will be able to enroll all year long. She stated that they have to be at least 30 days into the program before it ends, which is expected to be May 8.
“We will work with them,” Rakestraw said.
She and Chambers noted that they have an agreement with the Tiftarea YMCA and have talked to the PLIGHT organization.
They also added that 21st Century is funded through federal funds. The anticipated date to start the after-school program at the high school and Northeast Campus is Sept. 24.
In new business, Instructional Technology Director Dana Spurlin gave an update on the implementation of the new student information system, Infinite Campus. She told the board that the system has been live since last Tuesday. She said the transition from iParent to Infinite Campus has been extremely smooth with some expected ‘kinks.’ Currently, 754 parents have signed up for the new system.
Spurlin stated, “We’re very pleased with that.”
She read a positive note from one parent who stated that she was very impressed that Infinite Campus had more resources compared to iParent. She was also impressed with how quickly her child’s grades were posted.
Other topics discussed at the meeting included:
• Robby Dasher, director of operations, informed the board that all Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax projects are progressing along well. The project at Charles Spencer Elementary School is complete. He noted that they came in under budget. Eighth Street Middle School’s project is also complete; the only thing left is completing the paperwork. Dasher said everyone is impressed with what has been done at the school. He stated that work at Northeast Campus will begin to progress fairly soon if the weather permits. Due to a lot of rain lately, construction on the kitchen has been delayed.
• Superintendent Patrick Atwater gave the SPLOST funds report. He said, “Without SPLOST, we would be a different school system. We’re continuing to be pleased and blessed.” He added that they’re also continuing to progress nicely into this school year. All bills are current. The board approved the report.
• Tammie Smith, public relations director, discussed Partners In Education (Adopt-A-School). She said some businesses that are Partners In Education have changed their names or no longer exist. She stated that she contacted the local chamber and a committee will soon be meeting to refocus and come up with new guidelines. She noted that some businesses that are Partners In Education are still active partners. Smith said by the end of the school year, they hope to be ready for a new kick-off.
• The board approved the consent agenda, second reading of Board Policy #JGCD - Medication, second reading of Board Policy JGI - Child Abuse or Neglect (it was noted that routine volunteers at the local schools will also need to be trained), FY13 CTAE local plan, resolution in support of quality public education, SuccessMaker upgrade (revised to align with Common Core Georgia Performance Standards) and two additional staff at ESMS (will help alleviate large connection classes, as well as give students the opportunity to take more than one connection class).
To contact reporter Latasha Everson, call 382-4321.