Georgia grant sees high scores for Gilmer

Bobcat's Corner

ELLIJAY, Ga. – May 3 saw exciting news for Gilmer county as State School Superintendent Richard Woods made the announcement of Gilmer County Charter School System as the second highest score in the Literacy for Learning, Living, and Leading in Georgia (L4GA) grant by the Georgia Department of Education.

Over sixty districts applied for funding and a panel of trained reviewers scored the applications.  The districts with the highest scores received the grant.

Chief Academic Officer of the Gilmer County Charter School System Lottie Mitchell said, “We are so very proud of the hard work and dedication of our site facilitators, district, community and school literacy teams.”

According to Mitchell, Georgia was awarded a total of $61,579,800 over three years through the federal Striving Readers grant competition. Ninety-five percent of the funds are sub-granted to 38 districts.  The funds are distributed on per-pupil allocations to achieve the goal of the L4GA initiative, to improve student literacy learning.

With this grant in our county, Gilmer will receive approximately $1.46 million dollars over the next three years. These funds are allocated for students in schools within a feeder system (including birth-age 5 childcare providers and elementary, middle, and high schools).

Gilmer County Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes expanded on the excitement saying,  “As your superintendent, I could not be any prouder of this team! The dedication and commitment to the students and teachers in our district is overwhelmingly outstanding!  I am so proud to work alongside of all of you every day!”

Though the school system does not have specific details yet on exactly how the money will be spent, Mitchell states it is to be dedicated specifically to the improvement of literacy in the schools.

“It’s a great day for literacy in Georgia,” said Woods. “I am confident the $61 million Georgia is now able to invest in local schools and communities to support literacy will impact the lives of thousands of students. I commend each L4GA grant recipient – the competition was fierce as we received an unprecedented number of applications. Making sure Georgia students are reading on grade level remains mission-critical, top-priority work for us and I have no doubt these districts – who submitted clear, focused, student-centered plans to improve literacy outcomes – are going to use these funds to make a tremendous difference for kids.”

Additionally, the $61,579,800 Georgia received through the federal Striving Readers grant competition, the “parent grant” Georgia received from the federal government and is subgranting to 38 of its districts, was the highest award received by any state. Georgia was one of three states to receive the funding a second time after the initial grant cycle (2011-2016).

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Bomb threat investigated at Clear Creek Middle School

News

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – According to Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes, a new issue arising at Clear Creek Middle School drew law enforcement and emergency management to the school near dismissal time Friday, Feb. 16.

Wednesday, staff noticed writing in pen on a boys bathroom stall saying, “I have a bomb.” Wilkes tells FetchYourNews that law enforcement was contacted and the school searched. No evidence pointed toward a bomb being present that day.

Today, at approximately 1:45 p.m., Wilkes reported that a teacher was notified of more writing in a different boys bathroom on a stall. The writing this time appeared smeared across the wall in ink, as if someone had broken a pen to smear the writing. The writing read, “I have a bomb, you will die.”

After contacting emergency services and law enforcement, emergency management investigated for the presence of a bomb again. In an effort to find someone who may have written the message, school staff checked students hands for ink. Wilkes also noted that the staff was also checked for ink.

Though no device or other suspicious activity was found again, emergency management is continuing to question and combing through film. Wilkes once again noted that while the current thought is that this threat is a hoax, they will continue investigating the threat seriously.

With next week seeing Gilmer students on winter break, Wilkes tells FYN that they will be open for authorities to fully access the school for inspection for any signs, and the school will see heightened security when they return from the break.

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Student injured in accident at Mountain View

News

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Reports today confirm that a student at Mountain View Elementary School was injured by a pencil inserted into his face.

Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes told FetchYourNews it seems that the child was walking when he tripped and fell onto the pencil in his hand. Despite the appearance of an accident, Wilkes did confirm that they are investigating further to make sure.

The child was taken by their parents for medical care and Mountain View Elementary has returned to its normal classes despite the incident. While Wilkes declined to comment on the student or what grade that student is in, she did reiterate that information points that this was a freak accident.

Wilkes also confirmed the injury was to the face, possibly a sinus cavity or eye socket, but did not comment further details on the exact injury.

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Board of Education begins 2018 by looking to next school year

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education (BOE) began 2018 already considering changes coming for the 2018-19 school year.

The board is moving ahead with Administrative Renewals for the coming school year as they are already facing nine retirements and two resignations approved in January alone. Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes stated the board wanted to approve the administrative renewals now so they could move forward with their own recommendations for teachers to fill the empty spots.

The approved staff recommendations for January show those changes for January, but more are sure to come as the teacher hiring season begins with schools everywhere looking to fill positions for next year.

Even board personnel adjusted positions as new officers were elected. The position of BOE chairman came with a nomination for Michael Bramlett and appointed by acclamation. Vice chairman, however, saw more action with two nominations, one for Jim Parmer and one for Ronald Watkins.

The vote for Parmer came down to two for and three against (2-3). Nick Weaver, Tom Ocobock, and Ronald Watkins were the dissenting votes.

Watkins saw three for, none against, and two abstentions (3-0-2). Parmer and Watkins abstained on their votes.

In addition to the administrative and personnel approvals, the board set their meetings dates officially for 2018 as well as January 2019. The meetings will continue being held at 6 p.m. on these meeting dates:

Feb. 12 and 15
March 19 and 22
April 23 and 26
May 21 and 24
June 18 and 21
July 16 and 19
Aug. 20 and 23
Sept. 17 and 20
Oct. 15 and 18
Nov. 12 and 15
Dec. 10 and 13
Jan. 14 and 17, 2019

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Responding to Gilmer’s bus wreck on Yukon Road

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – With more questions than answers, the current investigation into the bus wreck on Yukon Road cannot complete fast enough.

Citizens are continuing to debate the incident with the information available. FetchYourNews (FYN) sat down to discuss the situation further with Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes. Though she reiterated that details such as the name of the bus driver and the specifics of the State Patrol were unavailable, she did update that the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) required investigation of the bus proved the bus sound and complete excluding the damage caused by the wreck.

This means that while some had questioned the bus’s condition at the time of the incident, a formal investigation has stated the bus itself was not at fault. Of course, with the damage to the vehicle, Wilkes tells FYN that the bus will obviously not be put back on the road. Instead, the system has put one of its back-up buses into use and is utilizing a substitute driver on the route. No other bus routes or drivers have been affected by the incident, and Wilkes confirmed that the school utilizes substitute drivers regularly in its operations.

Going deeper into the bus condition, Wilkes commented that the bus maintenance program follows stringent schedules regularly inspected by the GDOT, which also inspected the bus after the wreck. As the bus garage adheres to those schedules, they monitor each bus’s engines and details down to measuring the tread on tires.

The driver of the bus that wrecked has been with the school for over three years but has been placed on administrative leave for now. Wilkes said that such leave is common but would not comment on the driver’s permanent status with the school until the investigation completed.

Wilkes also took time with FYN to deny a rumor of a fight on the bus distracting the driver saying, “I can tell you that there was no fight on that bus at the time. That is one rumor I can completely squelch.”

Though not every question is seeing answers at this time, details continue to reveal as more unfolds.

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Bus wreck on Yukon injures students

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A Gilmer school bus is overturned on Yukon Road blocking both lanes of traffic.

A Gilmer school bus is overturned on Yukon Road blocking both lanes of traffic.

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A Gilmer County Charter School System bus has crashed roughly three miles out of town on Yukon Road.

The road is currently shut down and drivers need to find alternative routes as they attempt to travel. The bus was not involved with another vehicle. According to Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes, the bus overturned on the wet, rainy road resulting in minor injuries to children on board.

She did confirm the only students on board were from Clear Creek Middle School. With only minor, non-life-threatening, injuries, emergency services are transporting seven students to the emergency department in Ellijay and eight are being transported to the emergency room in Jasper. However, the other students on board were uninjured or only received scrapes or bruises and, having been checked by emergency response units, are being transported back to Clear Creek Middle School for parent pick-up.

Uninjured students from the bus crash are returned to Clear Creek Middle School for parent pick-up.

Uninjured students from the bus crash are returned to Clear Creek Middle School for parent pick-up.

According to the Gilmer County Charter School System, they are working to notify parents and are not releasing names of the students injured.

Witnesses on scene are reporting officers from Gilmer Fire, Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office, and the Georgia State Patrol are still working on the vehicle which is blocking both lanes of the road.

While emergency services are on scene, there is no set time expected for re-opening the road. Stay with FetchYourNews (FYN) as we continue to follow updates from authorities.

 

 

UPDATE: According to Dr. Shanna Wilkes, the accident coupled with response from parents to the schools delayed bus routes today, causing many students to arrive home far later than usual. With State Patrol undertaking a formal investigation into the incident, the use of this bus would demand a halt whether it is operational or not as authorities’ investigation will entail a full inspection in addition to questioning and investigating those involved.

While it is FYN’s understanding that the bus overturned after an over-correction by the driver, possibly trying to return to the road from the shoulder, it has not been confirmed by officials.

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December GREA meeting draws large attendance

Community

Dr. Shanna Wilkes, guest speaker for the December 2017
Gilmer Retired Educators Association meeting

Our own Gilmer High School Jazz Cats opened the meeting with Christmas and seasonal music.  Directed by Joe Pflueger, the Jazz Cats provided the best performance of the year for those Gilmer retired educators in attendance.

Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Gilmer County Charter Schools Superintendent, addressed the Georgia Retired Educators Association (GREA), Gilmer Chapter, during the final meeting of 2017.  Dr. Wilkes’ remarks included capital budget, building and construction plan, Gilmer County Schools performance versus 2015 and state results, new programs and school programs and expense.

Amanda Payne, of Edward Jones Investments, and Scott Logan, of Logan Funeral Home, sponsored our meeting and meal for 80 members and guests.  We are so very thankful for our sponsors and the Jazz Cats. Also in attendance was GREA Area 16 Director Barbara Howard and her husband, Jim.

Merry Christmas from your Gilmer Retired Educators Association.

Jazz Cats entertain large turnout of Gilmer REA members at the December meeting.

BOE considers 2018 issues in November

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga – The Gilmer County Board of Education (BOE) is moving forward for a change on one front while maybe avoiding change on another for next year.

First, the BOE has approved a motion to begin the process to change the board members compensation from $50 per meeting to $400 per month. Initial response from citizens have been conflicted with such a drastic increase. However, with this approval, the item will be sent to the General Assembly to be considered in the next session in early 2018. Then, if approved, Gilmer County Board of Education Member Michael Bramlett tells FYN that the change will not take effect for board members until the next time their seat is elected.

This means that the current Board of Education members will have to be re-elected before they, or the newly elected member, could take advantage of the compensation change, and that is if it is approved at the General Assembly.

Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes told FYN the Board has never set anything about compensation previously, which means it was automatically set at $50 per meeting. But a feeling now that the $50 was insufficient for the work put in ushered forth the motion for a change.

Wilkes also stated that this is already being done by neighboring Fannin County. The switch means going from some months with only the work session and regular session and some with at least five or more meetings. Wilkes stated it was likely, more when the Board was searching for a Superintendent before she was hired, to a set rate for the month regardless of the number of meetings.

As for avoiding a change, the BOE listened to one citizen who signed up to speak at their regular meeting. Brian Pritchard spoke to the board to ask them not to change the leadership of their football program. The Gilmer Bobcats football team has seen a lot of change over the last three years with continuing shifts in coaches across two 0-10 seasons. While Pritchard never mentioned names, he stated the current leadership was what the kids needed. It was a leadership “they would play for.”

The point to note came later in the meeting when the Board approved its November personnel changes. No resignations, terminations or retirements were shown on the list. While personnel was discussed earlier in the week during executive session, before Pritchard’s comments, it will be something they say they consider moving forward.

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