BOE asks for citizens to vote on 2019-20 Calendars

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – With a few changes in details sparked from a recent state committee wanting state control over calendars, the Gilmer BOE is moving forward with its annual community vote.

Citizens are encouraged to visit the Gilmer County Charter School System website in order to participate in a vote over six possible calendars created by the schools in our county.

As educators and administrators have spent the last few months considering and creating the calendars up for the vote, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs said they have actually identified which school created the calendar this year.

She said in February’s work session that she hopes this furthers peoples’ understanding that these options are not just thrown together, but planned and meticulously built by the schools for the school’s and student’s needs.

Downs is asking citizens to “Please review each of the calendars carefully, vote for the calendar of your choice, and remind others to vote as well.” The survey will be posted until March 8. After that, the results will be presented at the March 18 work session.

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Clear Creek Threat cleared

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Authorites at Gilmer Schools have cleared the threat at Clear Creek Middle School with the following information.

The lockdown is now clear. There was no threat found. In an effort to prevent this from happening, we have several procedures in place to monitor restroom use. We will continue to investigate the situation to find who is responsible. If found, students will receive school consequences and be charged for making terroristic threats. Please know safety is always the first priority at CCMS. We will continue to treat any and all threats seriously to protect our students. As parents, you are always invited to our monthly SGT meetings to provide us with feedback and suggestions. Our next meeting will be Feb. 28 at 7:25 AM. We need to work together as a school community to prevent these issues.

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Threat under investigation at CCMS

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – School authorities have revealed information about a possible threat written on a bathroom wall at CCMS.

The Gilmer County School System alerted the county to the lockdown earlier today.

Previous threats have been found in Gilmer Schools with nothing coming from the threats. However, the school system has repeatedly stated in the past that they take all threats seriously. They currently have law enforcement investigating.

The official post of information from the schools follows.

At this time, CCMS is under a lockdown with law enforcement investigating a threat written on a bathroom wall. At this point there is no reason for panic. Please do not tie up the phone lines.

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Due to Potential Winter Weather, Gov. Kemp Closes State Offices

Announcements
Press Release Header 6

For Immediate Release
January 28, 2019

Due to Potential Winter Weather, Gov. Kemp Closes State Offices in 35 Counties on Tuesday, January 29

(Atlanta, GA) – Today at Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Headquarters, Governor Kemp announced the closure of state offices for Tuesday, January 29, 2019 in 35 counties across North Georgia and metro-Atlanta for potential winter weather.

“Currently, the National Weather Service is forecasting one to two inches of precipitation north of the I-85 corridor on the morning of Tuesday, January 29 through that afternoon,” said Governor Kemp. “Forecasters expect frigid air to follow this precipitation, which may cause roads to freeze on Tuesday and remain icy on Wednesday morning.

“Already, we have activated the State Operations Center, and state agencies – including GEMA, GDOT, GSP, and others – will continue to monitor the situation and respond as needed.

“Based on the National Weather Service’s most recent forecast and the recommendations of emergency management personnel, I have decided to close all state offices for non-essential personnel on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 in 35 counties expected to see winter weather.

“We are working with emergency management officials to determine whether it is appropriate to close state offices for non-essential employees on Wednesday, January 30,” continued Governor Kemp. “We understand that businesses and families affected by these closures will have to make accommodations on short notice.

“We recognize your need for information on whether government will be closed on Wednesday. I can assure you that we will continue to issue regular updates through all appropriate channels so that you can plan for any changes in business operations or – for families – necessary childcare with daycare or school closures.

“Importantly, we want everyone to be safe and exercise vigilance if this weather causes dangerous conditions or outages. Those in affected areas are encouraged to remain off the roads on Tuesday and Wednesday, if conditions remain icy or dangerous.”

The following 35 counties are affected by closure of state offices:

Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dade, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fannin, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Fulton, Gilmer, Gordon, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Haralson, Heard, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Rabun, Towns, Union, Walker, Whitfield, and White

Watch the full press conference here: www.facebook.com/GovKemp.

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Less school for more economy?

News

North Georgia – According to a recent article by the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), a senate committee has recommended longer summers for Georgia Students.

Instead of quoting test scores, educators, or studies about student learning, the committee suggested a school year starting the first Monday of September, and ending around June 1.

The basis for this suggestion? Economic analysis.

According to the AJC’s article, the committee was devoid of teachers, school leaders, or PTA representatives. Their suggestion bypassed academics and said that the longer summer, roughly three months, would help tourism grow and increase summer workforce.

Taking a local response from Gilmer County Charter Schools System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs and Fannin County School System Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney, the consensus seems to be that these systems are appalled at the thought of economic interests waylaying the education system in favor on money.

Dr. Downs told FYN that shortening the year would not only decrease the breaks that the local school system has in place for students, but would make testing in the first semester almost impossible. She noted an immense testing impact if students were to go through first semester and Christmas, only to then come back in January for end of course testing.

A sentiment that was separately echoed by Dr. Gwatney who also noted how much work these school systems put into their calendars, over 6 months of effort and staff input are taken by each of these two school systems before a final handful of calendars are presented for community input in the Board of Education. Finally, the Board approves a final Calendar in the spring for the coming school year.

Additionally, Dr. Gwatney pointed out how far the effect of these calendars reach as he also brought in fellow administrators to speak on the issue.

Fannin County Schools Deputy Superintendent Betsy Hyde(heading up the District’s Charter), Fannin County Nutrition Director Candace Sisson (also the Calendar Committee Coordinator), and Fannin County Assistant Superintendent Robert Ensley (Administration and Personnel) all agreed that stepping into the local schools in such a way without any representation from schools on the committee was not the way the state should be looking at the issue. From the time spent working on the calendar to allowing each individual county to cater to their student’s and county’s needs, these representatives of Fannin County exerted the necessity of individualized calendars.

Downs also noted this importance in Gilmer County as she noted that each school presents its own calendar that is put together by teachers and administrators and then put out for citizen input. Noting the influence of educators of the process, Downs said she was against the thought of a committee placing importance of economy over education.

While both these counties gain a lot from the tourism industry, they annually balance their own festivals, events, and economies against the education calendar. Local people provide local input from local expertise as they continually deal with this problem.

Though the recommendation is non-binding, it leaves citizens asking the question of how much control the state should have and exert over local governments. Though not directly related, they still recall the Governors “Opportunity School Districts” campaign in recent years. A campaign shot down at the polls. If moved forward and put in place, regulations on the school year may shift discussions from the economic benefit to the state as a whole and focus solely on the overreach of State Government into local communities.

According to the AJC, the committee includes chair and state Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, Sen. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa, Sen. Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, Deputy Commissioner of Tourism for the Department of Economic Development Kevin Langston, Georgia Chamber of Commerce designee Michael Owens, Director of the Georgia Travel Association Kelsey Moore, Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus Jay Markwalter, former state Director of Community Affairs Camila Knowles, State Board of Education member Scott Johnson and Grier Todd, chief operating officer at Lake Lanier Islands Resort.

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Gilmer Schools Delays Classes on Tuesday

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – With continuing winter weather, the Gilmer County School System has delayed classes on Tuesday, December 11.

The National Weather Service has warned that counties north of I-20 may have black ice on roads as temperatures drop below freezing overnight. Please plan for a two-hour delayed start of school Tuesday morning December 11, 2018. This includes all bus routes, as well as the times that parents may drop off children at the schools on Tuesday; all schedules will be two hours later than normal.

The schools will dismiss at regular time on Tuesday afternoon.

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Gilmer Schools announces delay

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – With weather forecasts looking grim, the Gilmer County School system has announce they will operate on a two hour delay tomorrow, Monday, December 10.

We are monitoring weather forecasts and road conditions closely. At this time weather sources are posting conflicting forecasts for overnight and into tomorrow morning; however, all forecasts indicate precipitation with temperatures at freezing or slightly above. Because many of our roads are at higher elevations where temperatures are likely to fall below freezing overnight, Gilmer County Schools will operate on a two hour delay on Monday December 10, 2018 to allow buses, student drivers, and staff to travel in daylight conditions. The safety of Gilmer County students and staff is always our highest priority.

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Gilmer Schools Dedicates EES Auditorium

Community

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A single letter. One person’s thoughts is what ultimately led to a recent ceremony by the Board of Education to dedicate the auditorium at Ellijay Elementary School.

With the idea brought up in the Board’s meetings in recent months, Hefner’s family and the community of Gilmer County joined together to celebrate Hefner’s life and service in education.

Speaking at the event, Retired Superintendent Ben Arp said, “As I came to know Homer Hefner, I found him to have the traits of a good father.” He shared about Hefner’s lover for Esther, his wife, and how much it meant that Hefner was such a good example in his life.

He went on to speak of Hefner’s intensity and dedication through his life and how he took that through Gilmer High School, North Georgia College, and service in the United States Army. Returning to Ellijay after the Army, he came home to Ellijay to serve more through a 38-year career in education.

Hefner stretched through many facets of education as he served as a teacher, counselor, administrator, and, eventually, Superintendent.

Arp said it was Hefner’s leadership that was an integral part of Gilmer’s success during a changing and challenging time in education. Setting Gilmer as a beacon that many systems looked at and visited to learn from.

Also, Hefner received the Citizen of the Year Award in 1999. He was more than an educator as he volunteered in the community and organizations to grow Gilmer as a county alongside the education system.

The dedication ceremony also offered remembrance of Hefner with songs from the Ellijay Elementary School Choral students, led by Katie Mayfield, and a special plaque unveiled after the ceremony.

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