ELLIJAY, Ga. – For months now, the Gilmer County Board of Education has been pushing to inform and prepare citizens for coming changes to the Gilmer County School System. This month was no different during their work session as the Board is moving further with security upgrades and coming to a close on bus routes and school preferences for families.
School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs shared that the school system is altering their plans for the Centegix Security Systems’ “Crisis Alert System” that is being integrated in each school except Ellijay Primary and Gilmer Middle. Therein lies the change as Downs said they are going to go ahead and put the security systems into these last two schools as they prepare to change Gilmer Middle School to the College and Career Academy.
As for Ellijay Primary, the Board still plans to build the new Clear Creek Elementary School and move the security system there when built. Downs said the modular nature of the system will make it easy to move. She also added that they wanted to get the systems in while they had the state grant to help with the costs.
While the contract did come under scrutiny at one point, the installation has continued and Centegix currently has the hardware in all the schools and is now working on the network and inclusion into the current schools’ systems like intercoms.
As they move forward with the building of the new school and changing the school pathway of students from Kindergarten to 12th Grade, the Board recently approved new districts in the county. Along with the districts came the option for parents to enter a “school zone preference,” option to attend a different school with the parents providing drop-off and pick-up. Downs announced in Monday’s meeting that the application for this program is coming to a close on April 30, 2019.
She stated in the meeting that many families have already applied for the preference saying, “So far, we have had a tremendous amount of participation in that. As of this morning, we have 175 entries, and some of those entries have two or more children.”
However, simply applying does not guarantee acceptance as Downs further stated that system administrators will not even look at the applications until they have all been collected and the application window ends. While she did say she thinks the system will be able to accommodate most of the applications, they won’t know trends or finalized numbers until they go through the applications.
It is the Board’s intention to assign certain buses to each school to both increase a driver’s familiarity and connections in that school as well as lowering bus travel times as they would not need to travel across town to each school and to other elementary school districts. This would still leave Clear Creek Middle School and Gilmer High School routes spread across the county. Wilkes noted the possible issues coming from the need to keep elementary age children seated for more than two hours on a bus that will be alleviated with these new bus routes.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Progress on constructing the new Clear Creek Elementary School is moving forward as the School System has officially redistricted the county based upon the concept of hosting three elementary schools.
This is the first step in kicking off the major changes to come in Gilmer’s Educations system in the next few years as renovations, redistricting, and redistributing students to different schools are all a part of the steps forward.
Some of these changes to come include a new elementary school to be built in the Clear Creek area and the current Gilmer Middle School facility to be converted to a College and Career Academy as part of Gilmer High School.
According to the Gilmer County Board of Education, “Each of the three elementary schools will serve students in pre-K through 5th Grade and Clear Creek Middle will serve all students in grades 6-8. Administration for each of the schools will remain stable. This plan will allow students to experience less transitions during critical early learning years and will improve efficiency of bus routes for community schools.”
Plans for the changes have been in place for over a year, included in the 2018 Spring Board Retreat, revolving around the Five-Year Facilities Plan which also include renovations upcoming and currently underway for Ellijay Elementary School and Mountainview Elementary. With the construction of the Clear Creek Elementary School, the BOE will not be using Ellijay Primary School. The school has been prone to floods and damage over its 50-year life.
This Board has presented a map (seen above) to clearly outline school zones using Highway 515 and Highway 282 as zone boundaries.
School System Administration said, “Letters will be sent to parents based on registered primary address confirming assigned school zone by April 12.”
However, with some citizens already saying they want a certain school, the system is looking to accommodate families who wish for their children to attend a school outside of their assigned school zone. The district will provide parents the opportunity to apply for “School Zone Preference.”
School Zone Preference:
Bus transportation will be provided only for the assigned school zones as presented on the map; however, a parent or guardian, may submit a School Zone Preference request to have their child possibly placed in another elementary school within our school system as long as the school district has determined that there is available classroom space at the requested school after all assigned students have been enrolled.
If a parent elects to exercise this School Zone Preference, the parent assumes all responsibility for transporting the student to and from the selected school. School bus transportation will be provided only for the school zone determined by the school zone map.
An application for School Zone Preference will be posted on the Gilmer Schools Website from April 15th- April 30th for parents to apply for the school they prefer their child to attend. Parents will be notified by May 15th if their request was fulfilled.
Students on an Attendance Support Team (AST) Contract at the time of registration for School Zone Preference will not be eligible for transfer. If a student, has been selected for the School Zone Preference and is placed on an Attendance Contract during the school year, they may be transferred back to the school zone determined by residence address so they can take advantage of school system transportation.
With these changes only months away, Parents are encouraged to look for these letters and follow up with the Board Representatives or the School Administration offices for more details on applications.
For Immediate Release
January 28, 2019
Public Health District and County Health Departments Closed on Tuesday, January 29th
Due to predicted winter weather conditions, North Georgia Health District 1-2, based in Dalton, and Health Departments and public health services in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties will be CLOSED on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. All further updates will be provided and posted to our website at www.nghd.org and on our social media sites at facebook.com/NGaHealth, twitter.com/NGAHealthDist,instagram.com/northgahealth.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Honors and recognition have gone from the local Board of Education meeting to Statewide recognition for Mountain View Elementary this month as the office of State Superintendent Richard Woods officially released, December 4, the 2018 list of Title I Distinguished Schools, the highest-performing Title I schools in the state.
Mountain View Elementary made that list for an exceptional year. Readers will recall the schools praise during the Board’s review of Milestones scores in “MVE jumps in 2018 Milestones scores.” This praise came from a 14.4 point jump, from 70.1 in 2017 to 84.5 in 2018, in CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance Index). According to Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, the CCRPI scoring is what the state uses in distinguishing these schools saying, “This recognition is for scoring in the top 5% of Title I elementary schools in the state. CCRPI scores are based largely on milestones data, but takes other data into account as well.”
Mountain View Elementary School Principal Charles Walker credited the school’s entire staff for the achievement. He said, “We are absolutely excited. It is a team effort and it’s the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.” Mountain View holds classes in both elementary and pre-k grades, however, only the elementary classes are graded on Milestones. Walker said Mountain View was a family that has worked extremely hard for their students making it all the more rewarding to see their efforts recognized.
A sentiment echoed by Downs who said, “I am so very proud that Mountain View Elementary has been recognized. I commend the hard work and dedication of everyone in the MVE family in earning this recognition and being named as a top-performing Title I school by the Georgia Department of Education. Everyone in the school did an incredible job and the best part is that our students are the ultimate beneficiaries of the achievement.”
She went on to add that this recognition is only a part of what the Gilmer School system is accomplishing as the system has now scored above the state average for two years in a row, calling it “another indicator that our system is truly moving in a very positive direction.”
According to a release by the Georgia Department of Education, State Superintendent Richard Woods said, “In addition to identifying schools in need of additional support, it’s important for us to recognize and applaud schools when they’re doing well. These public schools are among the very best in the state and are doing extraordinary work on behalf of their students and communities. I extend my thanks and congratulations to every teacher, administrator, staff member, student, parent, and community partner who contributed to their success.”
The votes have tallied and the results delivered. While some races will receive their final decisions today, others are simply looking on to July for the next round. Meanwhile, citizens look for answers as they study tonight’s results. In a remarkably low voter turn out, many of the races received over a third of their votes from absentee and mail in votes.
Check out the precincts here and the totals below.
(Click on images to enlarge)
Senate Bills came home to Gilmer County Monday night at the Board of Education Meeting as the Board heard a presentation in its new Parent and Community Engagement Section.
The presentation was to provide information on Senate Bill 133 which is set for citizens to vote on in November. This bill will allow the Governor of Georgia to take over “failing schools” in the state and appoint his own Superintendents to control those schools staff, curriculum, budget, and administration.
These Opportunity School Districts, as they are called, are still not fully defined as to what constitutes a “failing school” or who the Governor could appoint or if he could bring in companies to control the Schools.
The OSD superintendent would be authorized to waive State Board of Education rules, regulations, policies, procedures and provisions for OSD schools, but not federal, state or local government rules or court orders. The OSD would be able to select, approve or remove the OSD schools’ principals, transfer teachers, control the schools’ budgets and modify education content.
FYN caught up with Dr. Shanna Wilkes to ask about the bill. Dr. Wilkes replied, “Opportunity School District is billed as a way to help low performing schools, but it would really take away all local control of schools while utilizing local tax dollars, bypass the elected state school superintendent and state board of education and open the doors for privatization of public schools. My concern is two-fold, first removing the voice of local taxpayers and second how ‘low performing’ is defined.”
Also reported in Monday’s presentation, Senate Bill 133, if approved, would have the state likely to start taking over schools beginning with the 2017-18 school year.
Moving into facilities information, a welcome announcement came from Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes offering the possibility that Graduation could be held on the football field if the weather could hold out. With the progression of the Athletic center moving along, the Board turned attention to the Agricultural Education Center as they approved a Guaranteed Maximum Price of $3,417,973.
The Board of Education also approved Parrish Construction as the low bid for the Ellijay Elementary School Bathrooms at $197,400. This projects work will include selective demolition and renovation of bathrooms at Ellijay Elementary School, as well as two alternates. The Alternates are to demolish and replace “epoxy resinous flooring from two previously renovated restrooms” and to remove 4 wall sinks and install two “multi-user wash fountains.”
Also in this weeks meetings, the Board approved a $2,500 bid for the sale of an older Modular Unit the school owned.
John Williamson, candidate for State Senate 51st District, sits down with BKP to talk issues and elections for our district.
Candidate for Georgia State House 7th District Representative Sam snider sits down with BKP to speak about citizens and legislation.