MVE ESOL Family Night was a success tonight! Students and families shared the event together, enjoyed a read aloud, an Owl-about me craft, a Kahoot!, and received information about their student’s educational programs.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Citizens are questioning the Gilmer County Board of Education this week after reports have surfaced of the involvement of and connections between the school systems Superintendent, Dr. Shanna Downs, and her husband’s, Jeff Downs, career in a company that the school is now engaging to install a security system in the schools.
While allegations pointed that Shanna Downs financially benefited from this contract between the school and the company known as Centegix, where sources say Jeff Downs serves and Senior Vice President of Sales.
FYN looked deeper into the contract and Request for Proposals (RFP) process that was headed up by Gilmer Schools Director of Technology John Call. According to hid RFP listed, the criteria of the RFP included:
1. Bidder’s total proposed price
2. Product quality/appropriateness/compatibility/performance
3. Bidder’s qualifications/experience
4. Bidder’s ability to provide support/service
5. Bidder’s warranty/maintenance
6. Proposed product meeting the district’s present needs as well as future needs through
enhancements and upgrades.
Call headed the reviews and RFP process, according to Downs, who said, “When I realized that my husband would likely accept a position with Centegix in November, I notified the board and I placed our technology director, John Call, in charge of the competitive bidding process for the security system. I asked that I be left completely out of the process.”
Downs further stated that Call and Stuart Sheriff, Assistant Superintendent, contacted Harbin, Hartley and Hawkins Attorneys at Law on November 12 for legal advice. As they saw no problem after Downs recusal, Downs says she informed the Board of her husband’s potential future employment with Centegix. She says, “Mr. Call assembled a committee of building level administrators to review and score the responses to the Request for Proposals (RFPs). Details of that process can be found in our board minutes from December 13, 2018. Until that process was complete, I stayed unaware of the selection of the product.”
Downs made one further note on her husband’s involvement saying, “My husband began work with Centegix on December 3rd and will not make any commission off of the purchase.”
Mountain View Elementary would like to extend a HUGE Thank You to the American Legion Riders for their generous donation of shoes and clothes to the MVE Clothes Closet!
On Tuesday, September 11th brought a sea of red, white, and blue to Mountain View Elementary School. The kids celebrated Patriot Day by wearing patriotic colors and participating in lessons that discussed the significance of September 11th.
CCMS will host it’s Annual Title I Night on Thurs., Sept 27th. The meeting will be held in the cafeteria at 5:30 All parents are encouraged to attend to learn about the Title I program and how it helps your child. Our 8th Grade Chorus will also be performing their Fall Preview of Veteran’s Day music. The bookfair will be open following the meeting. Door prizes will be given out. Don’t miss this exciting event!
The CCMS bookfair will be held the week of Sept. 24th – 28th . Gift cards can be purchased at www.follettgift.com and are an alternative to sending money with students. Bookfair gift cards also are a way for family members to easily send a gift to your child. All bookfair proceeds benefit the students of CCMS through the media program.
All stakeholders are invited to attend the School Governance Team meeting on Thursday, August 27 at 7:25 am with a condensed meeting in the afternoon at 2:30 pm. Future meetings will be Oct. 25, Nov. 29., and Dec. 20. Send your feedback to email@example.com.
The Gilmer Co. Board of Education recognized the Gilmer High School wrestling team for an outstanding season on Thursday. Bobcat wrestling was first on the agenda with Coach Josh Ghobadpoor thanking Dr. Wilkes and the entire board for doing all they do for the schools in Gilmer Co. Coach Ghobad, as he is commonly called by his team, brought to the forefront that the accomplishments for Gilmer wrestling this season once again followed the continued winning tradition the program is known for.
The 2018 season saw the Bobcats win 1st place in Traditional Duels and Area Duels with a Runner Up in State Duals falling just short of a strong Jefferson Dragons team. On the individual level, the Bobcats had 12 athletes qualify for the GHSA State Tournament with 6 of those placing and bringing home the hardware. All Bobcats performed well in the state tournament with Tristan Kendall(126 lbs) placing 4th, Alex Repetun(138 lbs) placing 6th, Caleb Waddell(152 lbs) placing 2nd, Grant Ledford(160 lbs) placing 6th, Ryan Crump(182 lbs) placing 3rd and Anthony Zilke(285 lbs) placing 3rd.
Congratulations to the 2017-2018 Bobcats on a great wrestling season!
See the video of these Bobcats being highlighted below:
Group Photo (Left to Right)
Front row; Halee Stone, Andrea Pantoja, Alexa Stone, Samantha Buntin, Elizabeth Stillwell, Allison Strickler, McKayla Chambers, Marli Cody, Jenny McCurdy, Amber Hancock and Kameron Stone. Back row: Rachel Bowen, Alexa Edens, Austin Daman, Chase Stone, Sierra Berry, Emily Beller, Maggie Parks, Mallory Kiser and Avery Bertanilli.
Not pictured are Erica Sharp, Brittani Ballew, Samantha Barrios, Drayton Bennett, Taylor Boling, Haleigh Crump (Mountain Academy), Marie Goswick, Faith Ralston and Katie Wells.
Gilmer Charter Schools are ‘growing our own’. Growing our own young talent to fill future positions within our system. Through rigorous academic classes and Teaching as a Profession, Business, Music, Spanish and other pathways students are learning curriculum and witnessing first-hand the demands of these professions through WBL internships and apprenticeships. The Teaching as a Profession pathway curriculum is designed for future teachers. Upon the completion of the two courses, an internship within a classroom and the passage of the ‘end of pathway’ assessment students may earn college credit and a paid apprenticeship within the school system.
Many students will successfully complete the “Teaching as a Profession” pathway requirements this school year. Senior Brittany Ballew completed the pathway fulfilling all requirements to earn college credit last year and is eligible for a paid apprenticeship this school year (see photo). Many types of WBL Internships and Apprenticeships are in place throughout the school system. We thank the leadership of our system for being visionaries.
Brittani Ballew apprenticing with Jennifer Keener at EES.
Andrea Pantoja with Mrs. Mary Hensley at EPS.
Migrant Tutor McKayla Chambers.
Allison Strickler apprenticing with Torri Hensley in Pre-K.
Haleigh Crump at Mountain Academy for Kids daycare.
Erica Sharp with Mrs. Kathy Cobb at EPS.
**Parents & students may inquire about participating the 2018-2019 school year. The application process will begin in February. This is the only time of year to apply. See Janet Davis 706 276-5090 with questions.**
ELLIJAY, GA – Offering low income first generation students a path to college access after high school graduation through additional services, the Upward Bound Grant was celebrated with members from both the Gilmer County Board of Education and the University of North Georgia.
Beginning Sept 1, 2017, the program will see two full time staff members at Gilmer High School in addition to extra resources and support for the selected students who participate. While the Grant was previously approved, see “Upward Bound Grant Confirmed for Gilmer Schools,” the press conference held on July 27 was the first official public meeting of the two entities celebrating the new partnership in Gilmer County.
Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes opened the meeting saying, “With the Gilmer County Upward Bound Project being the only one of its kind in this area of the state, I am so excited that we’re able to partner with University of North Georgia to offer support for post secondary opportunities to our students.”
The Federal Grant supporting this program equals $257,000 a year. University of North Georgia (UNG) President Dr. Bonita Jacobs commented on the yearly grant to assure citizens, “”We anticipate being here for five years, and it will make a difference… I am extremely excited about this program and about the impact it is going to have across our region.”
UNG currently hosts five campuses throughout northeast Georgia, according to Dr. Jacobs, and is the fastest growing institution in the fastest growing region of Georgia. She continued the conference saying, “As we look at businesses coming into our communities, one of the questions they ask is about workforce. Do you have the workforce?”
Dr. Jacobs also mentioned the University’s REED (Regional Economic Educational Development) Program is launching to work consistently with economic development in the area. The Upward bound program fits into the bigger picture with these other programs in UNG as it opens doors to colleges and career opportunities for these students. It helps them to understand what jobs are out there and how to get those jobs through the various pathways available in high school.
ELLIJAY, GA – Coming to the end of a process that began back in Fall, Gilmer County Schools’ Board of Education has approved a tentative budget for the 2018 Fiscal Year.
With some obvious changes such as One time Grants for projects like the School Cannery, other major changes are coming such as staffing adding two ESOL teachers, one Special Education teacher, one academic coach, one RTI Intervention Teacher, and one health pathway teacher for the Certified Nursing path in school among others. The school system is also moving forward on the Provision 2 Free Breakfast project for students.
Taking a closer look at the budget, our Schools are estimating to end FY18 with a $1,298,797 gap between revenues and expenditures. This estimation is not unheard of in Gilmer County as they have projected themselves under expenditures last year as well.
Gilmer Schools estimated in June of 2016 that they would be $1,631,875 under expenditures for their budget. This estimate left a fund balance of $14,962,247 by June 30,2017. However, the school system is currently estimating a fund balance of $20.7 million on July 1, 2017. Chief Financial Officer Trina Penland gave credit for the change to the Board of Education and specifically to Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes for continuously reviewing expenditures and cutting unnecessary items.
Regardless, the schools still estimates this year’s budget revenues to still come up short of expenditures by $1,298,797 leaving a fund balance of $19,401,203 by June 30, 2018.
While everyone remembers the mandated 2% salary increase for teachers, and our systems plan to increase the 2% to all faculty and staff, other changes have affected expenditures for the school system including a $300,000 increase in textbooks and a $560,000 increase to the TRS benefits (Teachers Retirement System) for employees. While the school system has been paying 14.27% of the costs for teachers TRS Benefits, this is now increasing to 16.81%. FY19 is also estimated to 20.9%.
One other notable increase comes as the Board approved a request from the Commissioners to increase their funding for School Resource Officers to 50% of the total costs, this $45,000 increase will take the total cost from its current $105,000 to $150,000.
On the Revenue side, the school system will be seeing a $635,000 increase to QBE Allotment from the State to aid in covering tuition and instruction in addition to the TAVT (Title Ad Valorem Taxes) Revenue. The TAVT is still being inflated due to repayment of taxes from the county and cities after the disbursement error in the Tax Commissioner’s office. This could offset in roughly a year and a half when the repayment is completed. However, Penland stated they have noticed an increase in collection from last year and are optimistic the economy could at least make up for a portion of the difference by the time those payments cease.
Additionally, during their meeting, the Board of Education also moved forward with approval for a Technology purchase of $90,000 for eight carts of Chromebooks. With 30 Chromebooks per cart, 240 total, Dr. Wilkes stated this would finally put 3rd and 4th Grades to a 1:1 ratio of Chromebooks and students.
While the budget is currently tentative, the Detailed Budget will be up for approval at the June 15 meeting. Citizens wishing to speak or comment on the budget can do so at their Work Session on June 12 or sign up to speak at the Regular Meeting on June 15.
According to a recent release from the University of North Georgia, they have been awarded “$2.6 million over five years from the U.S. Department of Education’s Upward Bound Program to help promising low-income high school students in Hall and Gilmer counties prepare for college.”
Split between our two counties, 120 students will have the opportunity to take advantage of tutoring, counseling, and advisement to help them become academically successful.
Gilmer specifically has local access to the University through a Blue Ridge Campus Branch where they can take courses as well as participate in the Blue Ridge Scholars program integrating course instruction with student support groups for first-time freshmen.
According to a UNG article by Sylvia Carson, the President of the University, Bonita C. Jacobs, said, “Through these grants and the Upward Bound program, we will be able to provide vital support to students in our region as they prepare for higher education and future career opportunities.”
UNG Blue Ridge Campus Director Sandy Ott leads the grant for Glmer High School saying, “Introducing the Upward Bound program in Gilmer County has the potential to greatly increase the progression of low-income students and first-generation college students through the academic pipeline.”
FYN followed up with Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes for more information. She offered anyone interested in the program to attend the Board’s June 12 meeting as they will have a full presentation on the award, the partnership, and Gilmer’s future alongside the University of North Georgia.
For the second time in 3 years, Gilmer County Schools and its Chief Financial Officer and Director of Finance, Trina Penland, have been awarded for Distinction for Excellent Financial Reporting by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts.
According to the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts, the award was established to “recognize excellence in financial reporting and controls. It encourages governmental organizations to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and recognizes individual organizations that are successful in achieving this goal.”
This award comes alongside the School Systems Audit Report with no findings and no questions on accounts, a feat lauded as extremely difficult by Board Chairman Jim Parmer. In fact, of the 150 counties that this state department reports on, only 27 have received this distinction this year. Some of the qualifications for the award require the annual financial report “must also be free of any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses, comply with all Transparency in Government requirements, and be given an unmodified audit opinion.”
Although the award is for Gilmer County Schools as a whole, both Chairman Parmer and Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes applauded their CFO Trina Penland and her hard work as the foundation of the school system’s success on this report.
In a sort of twist, Gilmer Schools are part of an inquiry by the State Department of Education due to unusually high scaling Milestones test scores for 8th Grade Math.
After results had come back with this particular group scoring far better than the state expected them to, a process began to look into Gilmer’s scores to ensure the results were true. Officials from our local administration have already been a part of conference calls, a written report, and written questionnaires to follow up with the results.
While in the past, the focus has been on analyzing erasures to prevent fraud, this year started a new “unusual response pattern analysis.” This analysis relies on percentiles instead of deviations according to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. Utilizing an algorithm for school-level analysis, this formula does not look at individual students or smaller groups.
Ultimately, the inquiry so far could be the extent of the investigation, although a possibility of an on-site visit is still possible. Gilmer’s Board of Education will likely not know the final decision until May.
While utilizing Extended Learning Times and focusing on 8th grade as a “gateway year,” Gilmer School’s veteran teachers, according to Director of Assessment Michele Penland, had well prepared in advance for the Milestones tests through several avenues including using Professional Learning Time to work together as they built the curriculum. They used “spiral quizzes” which allowed students to “revisit and practice standards they had already learned” and Extended Learning Times (ELT) to tutor and remediate student areas of deficiency.
Penland reported that due to the common incorporation of numerous tools such as interactive notebooks, test corrections, and consistent collaboration, the schools were able to achieve more with their students and their testing.
While the investigation continues, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes did not seem worried saying that inquiries into the school because it is achieving and performing so well are welcome.
Celebrations arose as citizens packed into the Gilmer Agriculture Education Facility at Clear Creek Middle School to celebrate the Ribbon Cutting on Saturday, March 25.
Actually, staff members had to bring out extra seating for people as they overfilled the bleachers. Georgia House Speaker David Ralston took notice as he spoke of North Georgia’s community and how it supports its students saying, “This does reflect the great support this community has for its young people, for education, and for Agriculture.”
In response, the local FFA Officers presented Speaker Ralston with a plaque in appreciation of his support for Gilmer High School Agriculture Education Program as well as the new food processing facility.
Speaker Ralston was not the only visitor Gilmer had to commemorate the event as we hosted Georgia Department of Education State Director for Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education, Dr. Barbara Wall, and Georgia Department of Education State Agriculture Education Program Manager, John “Chip” Bridges.
Bridges not only lauded the facility, but took time to praise the Gilmer County students. Going back years, Bridges said he had always been impressed by Gilmer Students and their attitudes and work through the agricultural program saying, “It’s an honor to be here to witness this facility which almost come close enough to matching the quality of the students that you have here.” He also went on to say Gilmer’s Facility is not only the best in the state, but competes nationally for quality saying even California has nothing like Gilmer’s facility. Echoing sentiments, he thanked the Board of Education for investing in the facility and the teachers for their efforts in the students.
Gilmer FFA alumni and Georgia FFA State Vice President Sadie Lackey honored Gilmer’s FFA program recalling her six years of experience. Comparing Gilmer’s students at state and national competitions, constant awards and honors, and acceptance to national universities, Lackey called Gilmer’s Students an “elite” among the 41,000 across the state. Lackey, however, did not talk about the benefits the facility would give the community, instead telling them to experience it themselves saying, “We will witness the greatness firsthand.”
As the ceremony came to a close, citizens were invited to tour the facility and experience what the students would be, and since Saturday have already begun, experiencing daily as the facility is put to use. With members and organizations of the community already inquiring as to how they might schedule and utilize the new facility, the Board of Education is currently revising their use agreement and should be ready to allow the community use in as early as two weeks. Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes stated, “I think it is a tremendous asset to the community,” and encourages those looking for a larger space to utilize the facility, but wants to maintain the Agriculture Program as the priority users.
Plans have already begun for uses other than first livestock show including a May 11 banquet, Prom on April 22, and its first event Ag Day going on tomorrow, March 29.
Make sure to take your own tour of the facility by checking out more pictures below:
With parents questioning notions of a pending threat to Gilmer High School, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes offer the following press release in response:
Rumors are spreading regarding two separate threats to the Gilmer County School system. The first was a potential shooting threat at Gilmer High School that was reported last evening. The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office has made an arrest in the case and there is no further credible threat to Gilmer High School. The second is a bomb threat that is currently under investigation by the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office. Although initial reports indicate that the threat is not credible, the safety of our students and staff is always our main priority. All appropriate action will be taken to ensure the safety of our students and staff and we are operating under a normal school schedule.
We appreciate the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Department for their investigation. It is imperative for students and everyone to know that credible or not, threats of this type against our schools cannot be tolerated or accepted. Unfortunately, these types of incidents do occur on occasion; but, we will always report and investigate each and every incident. I am sure many of you have received bits and pieces of information and I appreciate each of you having faith in our District to fully investigate and know that the safety of your child is our only concern. We will always notify you of such incidents as soon as we have all the facts and credible information to share.
Gilmer Schools are continuing through their day today as normal without early release. FYN will continue to follow this story should any further information become available.
The State Superintendent, Richard Woods stopped into Clear Creek Middle School for a tour and chat on Thursday, January 19.
During his visit, Woods spoke with Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Chairman Jim Parmer, Board Member Nick Weaver, Principal David Mashburn, and Vice Principal Nicole Pike as well as several teachers about their school and its students. According to Woods, Clear Creek is the seventh school he has visited this month as he makes several of these trips to “see what’s going on in the schools… As we begin looking at proposing things for education or the districts, it allows us to talk to superintendents, talk with teachers, and principals, and students and say what’s working, what’s not. To get ideas about changes.”
Woods was not only given a chance to speak to administrators, but he was also treated to a tour of Clear Creek Middle by students Emily Serna, Ange Davis, and Alexis Sirmans. The tour encompassed a chance to look in on classes during teaching, a trip into both the band room and chorus room, a look outside at the school’s Agriculture Facility, and ended up with Superintendent Woods’ first time in a school’s pep rally since taking office in 2015. Woods stated he enjoys having student ambassadors for tours and offering those leadership roles. He always requests to at least have a chance to spend time with students and faculty to listen to “their world.”
Woods did take notice of several things including the new Agriculture Facility which he applauded as a greater connection to the community. “We’re seeing a lot of greater ties throughout where schools are reaching out to the communities, where this becomes a family or community hub… Whether its business or Mom and Dad, having them active in the life of our children shows that education is important. I think by showing that is important, the kids see a clear example of what is going on.”
Another note Woods took was our school’s incorporation of technology for our students. From incorporating Chrome Books and Tablets to full computer labs, Clear Creek has updated to the modern times. Woods said he saw the opportunity to reach children today through technology as a platform. “It is the environment our children are growing up with today.” The question becomes, according to Woods, how to incorporate that technology into the educational environment.
As he walked away from speaking with Gilmer’s Teachers at Clear Creek, Woods offered that he saw excitement and hope in the school. He spoke of a transition he is seeing. With a little pull back on an emphasis on testing, Teachers can have and give hope to their students through their passion.
**Many secondary roads in Gilmer County remain iced and dangerous at this time. For this reason, Gilmer County schools will be closed for students Tuesday January 10th; however certified and 12 month staff should report at 10:00 if safe
*Due to road conditions, North Ga Christian Academy will be closed Tuesday, January 10th for students and staff.
*District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit
Scheduled reconvening of the Gilmer County Grand Jury will be postponed.
*Dalton State Gilmer Center
The Gilmer Center will operate on a regular schedule tomorrow, January 10. As always, if you don’t feel travel is safe in your area, please use your own judgement as to whether to come. Make sure to email your professor if you don’t come to class since this is the first week of class and attendance verification is important. We will see you tomorrow!
*US National Weather Service Peachtree City Georgia
Unfortunately folks, we still have lingering patches of ice – so be careful overnight into Tues AM in parts of the north! This includes Gilmer County.