BOE deciding details of return to school

Board of Education, News
return

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer has begun discussions of its return to school in August with details available to push back the starting date for students as well as offering an option for their return and will be making final decisions on details tonight.

Debates have arisen among board members for restrictions and requirements for the return. The school system is set to have part of its students attending a “virtual academy” while others will be attending class in person. Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs spoke this week saying that families could choose how to attend.

Committing to one or the other means dedicating to that form for a semester for high school or 9-week period for Grades K-8, according to Chief Academic Officer Lottie Mitchell.

Another major change coming at the beginning of the year will be moving back classes by four days. This push back, said Downs, is focused on allowing extra time to train and prepare staff for their changes in the coming school year through cleanings, classes, and training for lessons whether face-to-face or through the virtual academy. This will also push the first day of school to a Friday as Dr. Downs said in their July Work-session, “Our staff just seems to prefer to start on Friday so that we learn from Friday, especially when changes are being made.”

She went on to explain that the Friday start also allows teachers to meet students and go through classes and then have two days to make any last minute changes they feel are necessary. Taking the weekend to regroup allows teachers to work in classrooms or perform alterations to plans after that day without having to try and push through a week before they have any large portion of time to achieve this.

Although the board gave approval for this change through board polling, this change of days must be ratified as other decisions are approved tonight, Thursday, June 23, 2020. Yet, Dr. Downs cautioned the board and citizens saying that even this close to class, new information is still coming in requiring new changes from the state. A new state order could completely change the plans that the school system has made.

RETURNING IN-PERSON

Returning to class in-person will see changes for students as they see separations by glass or Plexiglas in certain areas supporting social distancing, some hallways in schools will be one way traffic and some will only walk on one side of the hallway in a direction, increasing use of hand sanitizer and hand washing, and reducing numbers of students in a room among others.

return

Part of the Boards In-Person plans come from guidelines and plans handed down the Georgia Department of Education.

The school system, currently, will make decisions on closing schools and when that is needed.

As for usage of masks, situations like school buses will not allow for social distancing needs. As such, the current plans are to require masks for students on buses along with assigned seats. They will also strongly recommend mask usage in classes. To that end, the school system will be giving masks to students and they are also planning on obtaining disposal masks for bus drivers to hand out if a student forgets or loses his or her mask.

The board is also installing water bottle fillers in some schools to combat water fountain usage.

To support the health of staff and students as they return, the board has purchased 5,000 masks, ten additional no-touch thermometers in addition to the ones that nurses already have, 250 gallons of hand sanitizer, and other items like bottles, spray bottles, towels, cleaning equipment, disposal gowns, and face shields.

The board also confirmed updates with their janitorial service, ABM, as for cleaning and requirements for the new needs for cleaning.

Board Member Tom Ocobock questioned the school systems response for students in class who may test positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Downs responded saying that they would not be put into the same virtual academy style as those who opt into it. Instead it will be more similar to distance learning they did in the Spring or make-up studies as with normal years dealing with sickness. Additionally, the school will be utilizing online plannings used in Google Classroom allowing a seamless transition to distance learning and then back into class when they are cleared.

In such a case, Dr. Downs assured the board that the systems had methods in place for contact tracing as well should the need arise.

The board also touched on some other ideas that may or may not be utilized such as rotating using the lunchroom for some while others might eat in classrooms.

RETURNING VIRTUALLY

Virtual Academy will be an all new program different from the springs distance learning for students. The new program works through Edgenuity (Grades 6-12) and Odysseyware (Grades K-5). The school system has already began pilots with the program in recent years.

While the program has options for Edgenuity teachers to be used, Mitchell said the Gilmer would use their own Gilmer County Teachers as facilitators for the program and to follow up with students as they guide them along.

return

Details and comparisons between Edgenuity for higher grades and Odysseyware for lower grades was given during the boards July work session.

These facilitators will be able to track student progress and log-ins during the return to class for attendance recording through their Chromebooks as well as viewing students’ notes taken. Additionally, teachers can add, remove, or reorder lessons and features for students as needed.

With Odysseyware, a Teacher Authoring Tool creates lessons, projects, or assessments from scratch and embed media and links within assignments personalizing the lessons as they need.

For those with special needs who return virtually, teachers can adjust grade weights & passing thresholds, read text aloud at different speeds, allow additional attempts on assignments and assessments, adjust the time for assessments, customize course content for remediation, acceleration, and support, and allow students to test out of mastered content.

These options for Virtual Academies are also time flexible as Mitchell said students who may decide or need to get a job can work around the hours and log on at anytime during the day. Dr. Downs said at this time they are considering implementation plans as they might have a teacher teach several lessons in person and then one period of virtual. Additionally, students who fall behind in the Virtual Academy may be asked to return to school in person to recover their grades. Students attending virtual academy will sign contracts to be fully aware of the expectations and responsibilities of the program.

Yet, these plans are still being discussed and should see updates tonight as the board continues weighing options and citizen response. One detail yet unsettled among the board is how to handle students in virtual academy wishing to participate in extracurricular activities. Board Member Ronald Watkins noted his displeasure with everything coming down to last minute decisions, but Dr. Downs explained that they are still getting changes from the Department of Education and are trying to add in final alterations as needed.

Continuing the separation between those attending in-person and those attending online, Dr. Downs said that those opting to go online are not going to get the same experiences as those in class, but the board is attempting to feel its way through the new program accommodating those students whenever and however possible.

For citizens wishing to know more or asking questions, Dr. Downs published a video covering parent concerns as well as the board is now keeping a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sheet upon their website.

Gilmer cancels make-up graduation along with other July activities

News
2020-201 Calendar, graduation, Renovations, Financial Distinction, return, testing

ELLIJAY, Ga. – In addition to this weeks announcement of cancelling the prom, Gilmer High School has also announced that they will be cancelling the graduation ceremony scheduled for July 17.

According to a statement from Gilmer High School, “Gilmer County Schools and Gilmer High School have been in contact with the Gilmer County Department of Health and Gilmer County Emergency Management for the past several days to make decisions regarding events scheduled to take place at the high school. Even though all of our events were planned in a manner to keep students and staff safe, we have been advised against holding large group gatherings (those with more than 50 people in attendance) at this time, even if being held outside. We initially planned to have students on the field, seated six-feet apart, and allow only two guests per student to accommodate social distancing requirements in the stands. Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in our community, we have been advised by officials to cancel the graduation event scheduled for Friday, July 17th.”

graduation

As with previous graduations, this year’s event was scheduled to be held outside on the football field.

However, Graduation is not the only event being cancelled or having restrictions as sports and other activities to be held in July as students are trying to slowly start returning to school.

The statement said, “With regard to sports on the high school campus, we are following strict guidelines from GHSA with regard to social distancing, hand sanitizing and the sanitizing of equipment. Athletes are screened each day, which includes temperature checks, and their responses are recorded to help with contact tracing. Over the past few days, we have had 13 student athletes, some of whom were in attendance at a community event last week (where several people have tested positive for COVID-19) and others who were identified during the screening process, who are being quarantined and cannot participate in practice for the next 14 days. Two sports, wrestling and cheerleading, have cancelled practice until further notice. We continue to monitor the remaining sports still practicing and are prepared to cancel their practices for 14 days should that be necessary.”

Gilmer High’s Marching band has postponed their “Band Camp” from Monday, July 13, to Monday, July 20. Next week they will work with small groups of students for easier monitoring, and then full Band Camp will begin on July 20th.

The High School said, “It is much easier to monitor small groups of students on a daily basis, than it would have been for us to comply with the necessary guidelines to ensure the safety of more than 400 students at prom, and an additional 600 at graduation.”

They went on to add, “This is not what any of us wanted for our students. We all believe in giving our students the greatest high school experiences possible, but will never risk the health and safety of anyone. We greatly appreciate everyone’s understanding and look forward to being able to have everyone back together soon.”

Gilmer High School cancels prom in face of resurgent Coronavirus

News
Prom

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County is still finding new information from news of exposures in the Courthouse and offices shutting down, but now, Gilmer High School is responding to the general resurgance of the Coronavirus in Georgia as they officially announce cancelling this year’s prom.

Originally cancelled during the school year as responses and shutdowns were widespread in the spring and the schools were closed, opting for “distance learning” alternatives, the prom was rescheduled in April as Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs announced in a meeting that they would be attempting to hold prom in July to make up for the cancellation.

That date was set for this Friday, July 10, 2020.

Today, the high school released a statement on social media stating that they would be cancelling the make-up day as well. They stated, “We have been in constant communication with local authorities regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and after much discussion and deliberation, we have decided to cancel prom this Friday, July 10. This decision was made with a great amount of information pertaining to potential and confirmed cases in Gilmer County. The cases are on a continual rise due to recent events within the county, and our first, and utmost, concern is, and will always be, the safety of our students and staff.”

In response to being forced to cancel the event, the high school is offering refunds through a linked form that parents and students can use for the school.

The school asks for patience moving forward.

They also commented saying a final decision has not been made at this time regarding graduation. However, they did affirm that a decision would be made in the coming days.

BOE enters July without Budget as they await State information

News
instructions, budget

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Despite a back and forth with state and Georgia Board of Education officials, Gilmer is still awaiting details to approve its budget for  2020-2021 school year. A now officially-approved spending resolution is allowing them to move forward despite that obstacle alongside other financial approvals for past budget and purchases.

The resolution came with itemized reports for extra expenses for academic supplies and subscriptions as reported in BOE to seek spending resolution tomorrow. utilizing one-twelfth, equivalent to one month, of the final amended budget from the previous year.

In their monthly purchasing policy report, the schools are continuing to expand the chromebook ratio to students as previous discussions show that the board is preparing for possibilities to return or not return to school in the fall. These discussions could see a final decision in July. The purchasing policy showed $49,140 for Chromebooks across Clear Creek Elementary School, Ellijay Elementary School, and Mountainview Elementary this month.

The board also approved their academic supplements for FY 21 including instructors and coaches for several extracurricular “academic” teams. Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs explained that some changes from last year and inclusion of Winterguard and Band in the Academic Teams as it is not recognized as a sport yet by GHSA.

A GHS Furniture purchase also saw approval as Downs explained that the “not to exceed $125,000” recommendation was to ensure any surprises as outfitting a number of rooms and spaces including mostly science classrooms.

Moving forward with their meetings into the year, the board is changing on date in September now that they have found the approved school calendar will coincide their September meetings with Fall break. Therefore, they approved a change moving the meeting dates from September 21 and 24 to its new date of September 14 and 17.

BOE discussing return to school at July’s end

News
2020-201 Calendar, graduation, Renovations, Financial Distinction, return, testing

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Though no exact details are available yet, the Gilmer Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs is meeting with the board, with faculty administrators, and with citizens and parents about details and options of the school to return along with its calendar schedule at the end of July.

Dr. Downs said, “Our district, along with the world, is grappling with an issue of enormous scale and human impact, and our hearts go out to all of those that have been affected by the outbreak of COVID-19. We believe it is our role and responsibility during this time to prioritize two things: the health and well-being of our students and staff while continuing to provide a quality education for our students.”

Downs added that the school is continuing to make its plans according to these priorities and according to the information given by both the state and our local community. The board is looking at survey results from questions about the school’s return sent only to parents of students along with meetings with security, Health Professionals, and others as they consider the details on the possible return. However, Dr. Downs said that the information coming in for them is still changing almost daily.

Gilmer Schools 2020-2021 Calendar

The process will continue, however, and plans are expected to reach a final decision by July’s meeting of the BOE in preparation of the calendar’s start date. If the calendar is followed, teachers will return for pre-planning and professional learning the last week of July, July 27 – July 31, and students will see their first day of school on August 3.

During this month, Downs said they will be reviewing all of their options and guidance from authorities like the Department of Public Health and state officials. She said they will make the decision “that makes the most sense for the students and families of Gilmer County. What works in California or what works in Fulton County doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of Gilmer County Students, so we will be looking at that through that lens.”

Downs did say they have a foundation of plans in place to keep both the children and staff safe when they return. She also noted plans in progress to expand digital learning through virtual school with the curriculum team. A relatively new program only rolled out in January, this could be expanded to a full K-12 program as an option for families in any grade that may not be comfortable to returning to face-to-face instruction in the near future.

With options available and plans set to explore several paths, Downs said exact details will be made available later so that nothing is said that might be different or changed soon.

Seamless Summer officially begins in Gilmer

News
Seamless Summer

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Bringing and official end to the Seamless Feeding Program with Memorial Day, Gilmer Schools have officially transferred this week into their Seamless Summer Program.

But this is more than just a name change on what the schools have already done, the Seamless Summer has many differences as the school system transitions into the normal summer cycle. The first and biggest difference will be delivery. Adapting to the needs of the county, the school system has run bus routes normally through the county during school to deliver work packets, food, and a second meal each day during the school year. Now, according to Gilmer Schools, the big purple bus (seen above) will be visiting site the way previous summer programs have held.

“The big purple bus will depart Mountain View Elementary to begin delivering meals… at approximately 11:00 A.M. Monday-Thursday each week this summer,” said the system’s social media post. The locations include:
-Gilmer County Health Department
-Boys and Girls Club
-Mulberry Street Apartments
-Ellijay 1st United Methodist Church
-Tower Road
-Carolyn Drive

Additionally, One change from Seamless Summer’s normal operation has lifted restrictions for on site consumption, meals do not have to be consumed onsite. This is also allowing Thursdays will be different as Lunch and Breakfast for the next day will be served. This means children will receive double meals to save for Friday. As per their usual program, any child 18 and under may receive meals.

This week saw Memorial Day as a holiday, but through Tuesday and Wednesday, Nutrition Director Linda Waters said the department has delivered 270 breakfasts and lunches to their sites and are now preparing for next week to bring on the Boys and Girls Club listed in their locations. Today, they are looking at double to cover Friday, meaning a delivery of 540 meals for lunch time.

The Nutrition Department goes through their numbers daily as they look to respond and adjust on a weekly basis to the county’s needs. For example, adjusting to incorporate the Boys and Girls Club next week, or adding in athletics summer programs beginning in early June when the add another 20 breakfasts for athletes and then 60 lunches as small groups practice with coaches throughout the day.

Waters said, “We will make it work.” She said she has had a great staff and has proven that as they adjusted to the needs during the COVID-19 outbreak and quarantines and they will adjust and adapt again to the developing needs.

In fact, the only thing holding the program back at this moment, said Waters, is a rising need for volunteers. Some sites are still very undermanned. But more than that, Waters said that right now, restrictions and regulations are setting boundaries for now, but what the program can grow into is all dependent upon the community. Normally, the Seamless Summer Program has daily events, reading with the children, playing, and other activities. Whether the program can return to that by summer’s end depends a little on state guidelines, but more on community volunteers who step up to lead and help with those activities. To reach that goal later, they still need those to answer the call now to receive and handout food at the current locations.

While the Nutrition Department is already preparing and planning for school in the fall and waiting to hear from State and County Boards of Education on how to proceed, they are continuing to juggle in the Seamless Summer Program and working towards making it a success in the eyes of the community.

Optimists show signs of care for Gilmer Graduates

Bobcat's Corner, Community
graduates

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County’s 2020 graduates have had more than a few setbacks in their senior year due to COVID-19, from missing half a semester, one quarter of their entire  senior year, to cancellations of their graduation and prom before rescheduling.

Many school districts in Georgia are trying their best to provide a little extra recognition for their graduates this year due to quarantining practices shutting down the entire state’s school system.

Gilmer is no different as the Board has rescheduled both prom and graduation in addition to providing a digital graduation this Friday. But the community of the county still didn’t think this was enough to make up for months of separation and a lack of closure to the grade school lives.

The Gilmer County Optimist Club pushed forward with a new project this week, and if you’ve driven down Industrial Blvd. this week, you’ve seen the roadside parade of handmade signs that the club has donated and erected to honor these students.

Also recognized at this weeks BOE meeting, the project is getting great appreciation from both the school board and community driving past with honks of appreciation as the project was completed.

Honoring GHS Class of 2020!

Posted by Gilmer County Optimist Club on Sunday, May 17, 2020

The project lead, Lisa Salman, who is also Tourism Director for the Gilmer Chamber, said the idea came together through watching other counties and districts through social media and listening to our own community.

All in the span of about two weeks, Salman pitched the idea to Superintendent Shanna Downs and received approval from the city for a sign permit, then gathered volunteers and donations to buy the materials and hand craft the signs you see on the road. Early Saturday morning, May 16, 2020, volunteers gathered before noon to put up the completed signs. This is the original planned week of graduation.

Graduates each have their own sign recognizing their work and efforts. Salman said that she knew the school was doing things, but said their was meaning in people doing something by hand for the extra recognition. Different volunteers have painted and created different signs, so not all the signs are the same either.

This project is not completed however. Maintenance continues through the week as heavy winds and passing cars have seen a few signs blow down. Salman said they are continue during the week to repair and maintain the project through graduation day.

When asked about the importance of projects like this, Salman said, “We’re friends of youth. Children are so important and I want them to be recognized… I want to make sure they are recognized and t hey could see their name as people drive by and honk.”

The project went up this week to the surprise of all the students as Salman said they spoke with Downs and the City privately to keep this as a Graduation week surprise for the students.

The project saw donations from 35 people and time from 7 volunteers to complete the designs, construction, and finally completion of putting the signs up on the road.

 

(Photo and video provided by th Gilmer County Optimist Club.)

Superintendent releases email to parents and seniors about graduation

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Gilmer BOE 2019, school closed, Graduation, Board, Education, Spending Resolution

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer Seniors received good news about Graduation during the Board of Education’s April Regular Meeting as Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs read an email that was sent from Gilmer High School Principal Carla Foley.

The email noted details about the plans for graduation as well as a recognition on May 22, 2020. While some of these are similar to plans discussed earlier in the week at the work session, final details came through the email.

Foley said, “While we must wait to hold a large gathering, we do not want to let May 22nd pass without celebration.”

The school will give each senior an opportunity to walk across the field and receive their diploma with their parents and family members close by. They will video each senior having their name announced and receiving their diploma. Then, after having the videos = edited together, the plan is to air the Class of 2020 commencement proceedings on ETC 3 at 7 p.m. on May 22nd.

While these are the current plans as Gilmer will not be returning to class this year, the plans are in effort, according to Downs, to provide some closure to the year for these students through a graduation as well as a recognition day.

Downs did provide the specific details from the email later: 

  • Seniors will be able to pick up their caps and gowns at GHS on Thursday, April 23rd, between 12-3pm. Please enter the GHS campus via Old 5 and Bobcat Trail, and follow the signs and directions.

  • At that time, each senior will be given a paper with a number (1-265), date (May 6th-8th), and time (9am-3pm) to arrive at Huff-Mosely Stadium, via Bobcat Trail, behind the Larry Walker Education Center. You will not be allowed to enter the stadium via Old 5 or Legion Road.

  • Seniors and their family members (1 carload – maximum 6 occupants, including the senior) will arrive at LWEC no earlier than 15 minutes before your assigned time.

  • We will be working in groups of 5 seniors at a time. The first 5 cars, in numeric order, will be lined up and directed around the LWEC toward the visitor entrance of the stadium.

  • The first senior and his/her family will enter the stadium and check in at the table, and proceed to the podium. In order for seniors to participate in the walking ceremony/taping, all fines and fees must be paid in full. Look for an email indicating if your child owes any money for fees or fines.

  • Once that senior leaves the check in table, the next senior and their family will get out of their car, enter the stadium, and check in, and so on. Please do not leave your car until directed to do so by a Gilmer County Sheriff’s officer.

  • At the podium, the senior’s name will be announced, along with any academic awards and scholarships from the Gilmer Education Foundation they have received. (Applications for Gilmer Education Foundation scholarships are due by noon, on Monday, April 20th, to your child’s counselor)

  • The senior will then proceed to the middle of the field to receive their diploma cover and a folder with additional awards and scholarship information from me, and Superintendent, Dr. Downs. Actual diplomas will be mailed to students after May 22nd. Students need to complete the following Google Form to indicate where their diploma should be mailed: https://forms.gle/RFVfJEVViSNpRwsZA

  • Next, the senior will go to a table to pick up their yearbook. If you haven’t ordered your child’s yearbook yet, it is not too late. You can order online at: https://tinyurl.com/y8rz5q8y , or you can order and pay in person when your child comes to pick up their cap and gown on April 23rd.

  • Finally, there will be a place on the field where parents and family members can take pictures with your senior.

  • Each senior will be given 15-minutes on the field from check-in to picture taking. Please honor this time in order to keep the number of people on the field to a safe capacity for all involved.

  • If you cannot make the date/time you have been assigned, please let me know ASAP. A few time slots will be available on Saturday, May 9th, from 10:30-12:00.

  • If your child will not be participating in this ceremony, please have your child notify their counselor ASAP.

 

Foley also said that the school will plan a graduation event in which all seniors and their families can meet on the field and celebrate their accomplishments should current circumstances change over the summer. “We just don’t want to miss the opportunity to provide something at this time.”

Live Call-In with Dr. Shanna Downs and Lottie Mitchell

Bobcat's Corner, Community

BKP has Gilmer County Superintendent Shanna Downs and Head of distance learning Lottie Mitchell to discuss how the schools are doing learning from home, the extension of online learning, graduation and prom.

 

Two major March events cancelled for Gilmer Schools

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cancelled

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Announced in their March work session, the Board of Education is canceling this week’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Clear Creek Elementary School while Gilmer High School has also had its Reality Day cancelled.

During the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs announced publicly that the ceremony will be cancelled saying, “Due to the current health crisis, we will cancel the groundbreaking.”

However, instead of postponing and rescheduling the event, they will simply move forward without it.

Downs said that they did not want to delay the construction project, possibly pushing out the completion date. Downs said, “I did say we would postpone it, but we do not want to postpone starting the new elementary school. So, we are going to have to break ground with no ceremony.”

Reality Day for the High School has also been cancelled, originally planned for March 31.

However, this event, run by Gilmer Family Connection, is run in partnership with the schools for the students. The event cancellation comes during the first week of school closures for Gilmer as Gilmer Family Connection Director, Merle Howell Naylor sent out the statement today.

Naylor said, “It truly is with great sadness that I am canceling Reality Day that was scheduled for March 31st.  The Gilmer County School system is closed this week and I’m sure it’s uncertain about next week with all the concerns about COVID19.”

Despite the cancelation, Naylor had only positive things to say for the large number of community members who were set to be at the event. Naylor said, “I truly thank you all for your willingness to volunteer for Reality Day and assure you that you will have an opportunity to volunteer next year.”

Gilmer Schools addresses Coronavirus concerns

News
GMP, Coronavirus

GILMER, Ga. – Amid concerns from a positive case of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Canton, Georgia, and responses of a possible exposure in Pickens, Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs answered concerns today with a statement about Gilmer’s preparations.

The school system has established health safety protocols already in place but Downs addressed the issue saying, “The Gilmer County School district has not received any reports of COVID-19 cases or contact potential at this time; however, the landscape of this issue has been changing each day. In light of the rapidly changing nature of this issue, our safety team has been working with information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) to plan for possible scenarios.”

As the situation changes and new stories on the Coronavirus develop, Downs assured families that while there is no issue with the virus in Gilmer Schools, they are preparing in precaution at this time.

Downs said, “The district is diligently following the guidance of the CDC and DPH in our response to COVID-19 and will continue to be proactive in keeping our schools, buses, and other facilities clean by utilizing our protocols for health-related conditions. We are also modifying those protocols, when necessary, to include any updated guidance received from the CDC and/or DPH.”

As they do move forward with precautionary measures, Gilmer has one option that Downs pointed out through technology to answer such a need. Downs said “While we are hoping we will not face any closures in the near future, our curriculum and technology departments are working diligently to expedite our 1:1 computer program for 6-12th grade to facilitate online instructional opportunities and building take-home lessons for our elementary students should we face any closures in the future.”

The Board of Education does have their monthly meetings scheduled for next week and we could be hearing more on the Coronavirus as early as Monday’s, March 16, Work Session at 5:30 p.m.

Gilmer approves GMP for Clear Creek Elementary

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GMP, Coronavirus

ELLIJAY, Ga. – In a special called meeting in March, the Gilmer Board of Education approved their Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for Clear Creek Elementary School with Charles Black Construction Company.

The GMP is set at $15,910,671. The project is set to begin this spring as reported from the BOE’s February Meeting. According to reports, that date could be as early as late March or early April.

During their meeting, the board confirmed a few extra details including the use of the luxury vinyl tiles similar to those used in the high school. Despite being more expensive to install, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs said it is more durable and doesn’t require the same waxing a buffing over summers and holidays that the older style of tiles required.

Some parts of the project will require the school system to follow up with certain internal projects like furnishings, technology, and security which are not a part of the GMP. Downs said the GMP is strictly for the construction of the facility.

As construction begins in the next coming weeks to continue over the summer, the Board of Education has said they will be hosting their groundbreaking ceremony soon. Additionally, the project is still not confirmed on the scale or need for adjustments to nearby county roads for the increase in traffic. However, the Board of Commissioners have held preliminary discussions about possible needs for turning lanes and road widening among others.

Clear Creek Middle School under lockdown

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CCMS Clear Creek Middle

UPDATE: New information from Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs has confirmed a firearm was involved with the incident at Clear Creek.

According to reports, several transportation employees detained the individual until help could arrive. Dr. Downs stated, “The School Resource Officer from the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) stationed at Clear Creek Middle School adjacent to the transportation facility was able to use the Centegix Crisis Alert System to place the school in lockdown instantly and respond immediately to arrest the individual.”

While the Sheriff’s Office continues investigation, the suspect is currently in custody, and is being held at the Gilmer County Detention Center.

Dr. Downs went on to add, “Our district is fortunate to be supported by a School Board and Board of Commissioners who recognize the need and work together to fund GCSO School Resource Officers at each school. Steps taken by our system to have these School Resource Officers and the Centegix Crisis Alert System in place today has proven invaluable in ensuring the safety of our students and staff.”

 

Original Story:

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – On the afternoon of February 27, 2020, an incident involving a disgruntled employee of the Gilmer County School System resulted in a lockdown at Clear Creek Middle School.

According to a statement from the Gilmer County School System, the lockdown was precautionary. The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office was called in to handle the situation and the school system says the incident was “quickly contained.”

The incident occurred about 1:30 p.m. when the employee began “a disturbance at the transportation facility next to Clear Creek Middle School out Yukon Road.

The school also offered the following in their statement, “In a lockdown, all doors and windows are locked and noone is allowed either on or off school campus. Please know that our students were not in danger. This was implemented as a precautionary measure toward ensuring their safety.”

Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs confirmed that a disgruntled employee showed up in a threatening manner, but declined to comment further saying that the incident is still being investigated by the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office. However, she did also confirm that there was no major injuries or damage to the facility during the incident.

“I Heart Ga Milk” day at EES

Bobcat's Corner
I Heart Ga Milk
Misty Friedman, Farm to School Nutrition Coordination for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, plays with Georgie's, Georgia Grown's mascot, ear at the I Heart Ga Milk Day at EES on February 14, 2020.

Misty Friedman, Farm to School Nutrition Coordination for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, plays with Georgie’s, Georgia Grown’s mascot, ear at the I Heart Ga Milk Day at EES on February 14, 2020.

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer Schools saw a special Friday as they celebrated the I Heart Ga Milk Day at Ellijay Elementary School with guests from the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

The event was hosted in Gilmer County as part of the state’s Georgia Grown “Feed My School” program from the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Gilmer Schools’ Nutrition Director Linda Waters helped make the program possible along with staff and faculty of Ellijay Elementary and also hosted Misty Friedman, Farm to School/Nutrition Coordination for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Friedman commented on the event saying, “My job is to bring more Georgia foods to our Georgia students. And events like this just puts us on the front lines of all the great work that’s being done to support our Georgia Farmers and to really teach our kids where their food comes from.”

The celebration lasted through breakfast, serving hot chocolate milk with marshmallows early that morning and saw the staff wearing their I Heart Ga Milk t-shirts while Georgie the Georgia Grown mascot and the Chick-fil-A Cow mascot hung out with the kids. Staff handed out pencils and educational materials about “the benefits of milk.”

Friedman went on to say, “I love coming out and visiting with the schools and seeing the kids enjoy, literally, the fruits of the labor of our Georgia Farmers.”

 

 

See more photos at FYN’s Facebook Page.

I Heart Ga Milk I Heart Ga Milk

GHS mentors students in adult life with “Adulting Day”

Bobcat's Corner, Community

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Students all across Gilmer High School were introduced to life after Senior Year through a new event, Adulting Day.

Including students from all grades, the day showcased different experts in areas of the future from college and careers to everyday tasks like tax forms and budgets throughout the day. Students were also invited to speak with representatives from Military branches and colleges during the day.

Steak Parade at Adulting Day in Gilmer High SchoolWith more available, a few of the classes we visited included culinary skills at the Steak Parade, speaking with law enforcement about career options and opportunities, learning about traveling with a Travel Agency, local economy with JDA Executive Director Kent Sanford, dangers of Social Media, how to fill out Tax Returns, Budgeting, Healthcare careers, and trade careers. Some classes even dealt with current choices about high school life that will directly affect college or post-graduation life including SAT Prep and Personal Health and Wellness.

The day also included an outdoor experience as students attempted to “drive under the influence” through the use of special goggles and a guided course while driving a golf cart.

Drunk Driving Course during Adulting Day at Gilmer High SchoolThe experience used several different goggles that varied through vision and equilibrium impairment based on different BAC (Blood-Alcohol Content) levels. While not overly challenging the course showcased how difficult even simple obstructions become through the different levels of intoxication.

Students attended the classes and college fair throughout the day up to 2:15 p.m. sharing in information from teachers and experts alike. Different from normal college fairs, these classes added the extra step to prepare some who may not choose college or may take alternate paths in life. Additionally, granting these first experiences through necessary events like taxes allowed for questions and advice to be exchanged through the school environment.

The event was hosted by Gilmer High School Administration and Counselors involving the teachers and an additional 30 volunteers.

The Adulting Day event has been confirmed to continue annually as Gilmer High School Principal Carla Foley stated, “We will definitely make this a yearly event.”

 

See more photos of the event at FYN’s Facebook Page.

Schools lock down during investigation

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Confirmed by a representative inside the Gilmer County Charter School System, the campuses of Gilmer High School, Mountain View Elementary, and the Larry Walker Education Center, as well as the campus of North Georgia Christian Academy went into a soft lock down today, October 21, 2019.

FYN learned that the lock down was caused by an investigation in the area. Schools were advised to go on lock down for protection as it was said it was not directly involving the schools. This was later confirmed by the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office who stated in a public release, “The investigation that caused schools to be put on “lock out” has been completed by Ellijay Police Department. The investigation was unfounded and everything is to go back to normal operations soon.”

Schools are currently returning to normal operation as the Police Department is wrapping up its operations. There is no available information about the investigation itself at this time, but authorities are contacting schools to resolve the issue. North Georgia Christian Academy said it had contacted parents about the incident but declined to comment publicly about the lock down.

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