ELLIJAY, Ga. – Two coaches spoke during the Gilmer Board of Education’s (BOE) Public Comments this week on a policy change close to approval.
The item is in its second reading this month for the BOE and is set for the vote on Thursday, March 21, 2019. The contention on the policy comes with changes to Community Coaches. The policy, IDFC Community Coaches, is seeing changes in requirements, pay, and eligibility for those wishing to serve, as noticed by the strikes and bold print in the policy. Those who spoke had each had one issue in common, though. The pay limit on community coaches, “lay coaches” as they are also called.
First to speak, Softball Coach Kim Charles addressed the board saying that as a head coach, she had always wanted to make the major decisions for her team. She felt that the revision was restrictive to the teams who use lay coaches more. She advocated for these coaches calling them “great people” and “very involved in the community.” She went further saying she wanted to remain loyal to these lay coaches who have and will serve in sports programs to the benefit of the students involved.
Charles said she didn’t want this to be a cut to current coaches, turning into a force to drive off those who have volunteered loyally over the years. She said they are the ones who have tried so hard to build and improve the kids when the head coaches need help. These coaches, said Charles, have proven themselves in their areas. She also pointed out that several of the sports that have seen success over the years have had long years of the same lay coaches, providing the stability needed to foster that kind of success.
Second to speak, Track Coach Josh Snider echoed the feelings that restricting and limiting the community coaches of the county would only detriment the sports and those students involved. He noted that the track programs work with three lay coaches and go through certifications at their own costs to become certified for their positions. The revisions in this policy also require GHSA community coach training and a rules clinic and assessment to become certified to coach their desired sport.
Snider also commented that he wanted to add to the policy that community coaches might also have their past experience in the sport with Gilmer Schools under consideration when they apply. When this is considered, Snider noted you might have a coach who meets the requirements but didn’t “mesh well” with the coaching staff or students in that sport.
He further agreed with the sentiments spoken by Charles as he noted several sports who are seeing success and past lay coaches who have also been well received and went on to further and enhance their sports and areas.
The third speaker, District Athletic Director Rodney Walker, began his address quoting a statistic of Gilmer Schools utilizing 75 percent of its coaches as certified staff coaches and 25 percent of them as lay coaches. Walker urged the board to move forward with the revisions. Though he said he had no issue with lay coaches, he noted that having so many puts the county at risk. He said he was thankful that the county had many willing to serve and admitted that there has been success with community coaching. Walker pointed out that the intent isn’t to get rid of lay coaches, instead limiting them in favor of certified personnel.
Walker said, “There’s no way that a guy that goes to college, or a lady goes to college, and they train and they get paid to do this job. And then we’re bringing people off the streets, and they may be good people, they may be great people, great coaches. But they shouldn’t make the same thing as a certified personnel. That’s just not right.” Walker pushed for the limited pay saying that the county needs to hire the best qualified people to teach in the school and be a part of the programs.
Walker also noted accusations that the revisions was put in place to give the football coaches more money. He said they have one coach they hired. He also said they were fortunate enough last year to have hired three coaches that now coach a second sport. He noted that his biggest push was to get coaches who are also in the school teaching. Walker said that these coaches who teach and coach build better relationships saying, “If we can get these people in the building, that’s what I think helps. You can’t tell me it doesn’t help to be able to have them.”
Ultimately, Walker said he is trying to take care of the system, to protect it.
This issue is already in the second reading before the board, meaning that if citizens are wishing to speak at the meeting or weigh in on the subject they must sign up with the Superintendent before Thursday to be allowed to speak at the regular session. Additionally, citizens are encouraged to speak with board-members about how they want their district’s representative to vote.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County got its first look at its newest Board of Education member, Doug Pritchett, in January’s meetings, but now, FYN sits down for a few questions with the man selected to fill the vacant spot.
Pritchett is a life-long resident of Gilmer County, having graduated from its High School and only leaving for Reinhardt University and later graduating from University of Georgia. He has been a banker for much of his life as his wife taught in the Gilmer County School System for 34 years. He has had three children graduate from Gilmer as well.
On joining the Board, Pritchett said, “I’ve always worked in the community. I believe in giving back to the community, and I felt like this was a way I could continue to do that.” He went on to say that he wants to be a positive influence with his only goal to continue the quality that he has seen in the school system so far.
That quality, says Pritchett, is starting to gain momentum with the “stability” the school system has seen in recent years. With a number of Superintendents and changes now behind us, he wants to continue that momentum and stability that has led Gilmer to successes in testing and classes as well as programs like the FFA (Future Farmers of America).
He went on to explain that the county has seen more investment into the students in whatever path they choose through projects like the new Agricultural Center and the coming restructuring of Gilmer County School buildings with a new elementary school. These projects through each cycle reinvest more into the school and students as they study, practice, learn, and compete. With ESPLOST Bonds, Pritchett told FYN that the short term bonds and quick payoff through the life of the ESPLOST allows these projects to be available for the students quicker.
Pritchett has been through board orientation, but will be seeing more training in April and June as he gets deeper into the new position. He acknowledged the trials ahead as he begins looking deeper at items like the recently debated State-Controlled summers issue as well as the needs of the local community. Pritchett said he has received a lot of help from his fellow board members in getting up to speed and getting through his first meeting already.
Ultimately pointing to the students, Pritchett says he wants to focus on helping to prepare them for their futures. Highlighting Gilmer County’s focus on college and career readiness in addition to trade skills and work force preparedness, he touted Gilmer County as one of the best in the state as he said he is looking forward to the next two years and getting to be a part of steering that success.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Vacant since September 11, the Board officially named a new member to fill the seat at a Special Called Meeting this week.
Held on December 17, 2018, the Special Meeting saw Board Chairman Michael Bramlett report to the board that Doug Pritchett is willing to serve alongside them and will be taking the spot in January.
Bramlett stated in their meeting, “Mr. Pritchett is a long time resident of Gilmer County and he will make a good Board-person.”
Moving forward with the new appointment, Pritchett will serve the remaining 2 years of the current term. At that point, he will be free to run in the regular election for the position.