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Henry County BOE Shifts Meetings to Virtual Format

Submission Date: April 16, 2020

Release Date:  For Immediate Release

Contact: J.D. Hardin, 770-957-6601 ext. 161, john.hardin@henry.k12.ga.us

(Release # 0040-4-2020)

 Henry County BOE Shifts Meetings to Virtual Format

Henry County BOE Shifts Meetings to Virtual Format

All meetings scheduled to be available for online viewing

HENRY COUNTY, GA – All meetings of the Henry County Board of Education have now been shifted to a virtual format due to restrictions on large gatherings imposed in response to the Coronavirus.  The board held its first such meeting on Thursday, April 2, a special called meeting to discuss current remote operations, a resolution to approve contingency operations for the district, and a one-time emergency pay supplement.

District employees have been working remotely since March 16 after the district closed on-site learning and operations due to the health concerns posed by the global pandemic.

Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis and each board member participated in a broadcasted Zoom meeting which was hosted on the district’s YouTube channel.  District officials made the link to the meeting available through the Henry County Schools website.

Board members and those watching the meeting were able to hear Superintendent Davis share an Instructional and Operational Continuity briefing on district operations by featuring various highlights occurring during the closure. 

Each board member shared their appreciation for the work that has transpired since the decision was made to close schools, and special acknowledgments were given to families and employees alike.

“I want to say a huge thank you to our teachers and the whole school system,” said Vice-Chair Holly Cobb.  “It took a whole team to make this happen and continue to make it happen.”

Sophe Pope, District 4 Board Member, stated, “I have just been in awe of the way our school system and our community have responded to this crisis that we found ourselves in, and Dr. Davis, the cabinet, and every employee in our school system are truly on board to make sure that our children still receive an exceptional education.”

After hearing various updates and modifications to the remote learning and operation plans, the board took action on two business items presented by the superintendent. 

The first item was a resolution to approve the contingency operations for Henry County Schools in response to the State of Emergency declared by Governor Kemp and the Shelter-In-Place ordinance approved by the Henry County Board of Commissioners.  Items addressed in the district’s contingency operations include state waivers from the Georgia Department of Education, district waivers, identifying essential employees and their roles, and further emergency contingency planning.

Of note, Davis addressed district finances during this time by sharing that Henry County Schools will move to an essential spending period for school and district purchasing.  There are exceptions for necessary expenditures to maintain and improve remote learning, necessary expenditures for the purchase of food for student meal preparation, necessary expenditures to maintain current operations at the local school and district levels, and emergency expenditures authorized by the superintendent.  The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution.

The second business item introduced was the consideration of a one-time emergency pay supplement for employees who are now tasked with carrying out their duties from home.

Regular supplies that many teachers and employees would have at their disposal at work are now needed at home to help continue their job requirements, and that means that some of the expenses have come out of pocket.  The Henry County Board of Education recognized the sacrifices that many employees are having to make and unanimously approved pay supplement of $200 which will be paid to permanent employees during the next pay period.

The total cost of the supplement is $1.2 million for the district.  With a reduction in operations at school buildings and other functions in the district, expenditures for the FY20 school year have slowed.  This allows the one-time supplement to be paid without having to borrow from reserves.

The entire district being able to work remotely, like is currently being carried out, was not necessarily the intent of the board that approved the purchase of computing devices for all students and staff, but Board Chair Josh Hinton was a member of the board that took action to approve the 1:1 technology initiative for Henry County Schools.  He notes that it is definitely proving its worth during this school closure.

“I want to thank the staff for having the vision to go one to one with computers over four years ago,” said Hinton.  “And I want to thank and praise our entire school system and everybody involved because it has taken every single person from every single department to pull off this remote learning and operations plan.”

The district will hold its next virtual board meeting on Monday, April 20, and viewers can watch the proceedings through the Henry County Schools YouTube channel. 

With the public meeting being held virtually, community members will still have the ability to address the board through public participation.  The new format will require community members to send their remarks via email to publiccomments@henry.k12.ga.us.

For more information on Henry County Schools, visit www.henry.k12.ga.us.

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