HCS Board of Education Meeting - December 13, 2021
Posted by Sybil Barkley on 12/17/2021 2:00:00 PM
Highlights – 12-13-21
Exemplar Board – State Conference Wrap-Up
Each December, the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA) hold their fall conference in Atlanta. It is during this professional learning and development conference that board members from all of the state get the opportunity to engage with industry leaders and peers around important topics in education. State and national speakers attend the conference to inspire and inform, and even some school boards get the chance to present to their peers. The 2021 fall conference marked the second conference in three years that the Henry County Board of Education was chosen as a presenter for conference attendees.
With all that has been experienced and learned through the ongoing pandemic, one important topic for school districts is addressing literacy and learning loss. Board Chair Holly Cobb and Vice-Chair Annette Edwards presented in front of a group of over 60 individuals interested in Henry County Schools’ approach and success to this important topic. The hour-long presentation detailed the collaboration, planning, and coordination to support student success and detail the growth achieved relative to student peers from across the nation. Both board members, Superintendent Davis, and Dist. 4 Board Member Sophe Pope were available to answer the various questions from audience members.
In addition to being able to present at the conference, the Henry County Board of Education was recognized on multiple days of the event for several honors and awards. The board was named a Large System Governance Team of the Year Finalist for the second year in a row, designated as an Exemplary Board of Education for the second year in a row, and earned their second Leading Edge Award which recognized the district’s efforts around Teaching and Learning for work on HenryConnects.
2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan
School Safety & Student Well-Being Update
Chief School Leadership Officer Kirk Shrum and Chief Family & Student Support Services Officer Dr. April Madden reported to the board important updates on school safety and the well-being of students in the district. Providing a reminder of the board’s ongoing work to provide a safe learning environment, Mr. Shrum reflected on the work that has been accomplished over the past several years through community partnerships and collaborations to help bolster safety and security measures in district school buildings. Dating back to the Parkland High School shooting in the winter of 2017, the community has been engaged in multiple conversations to partner to provide awareness and support to important efforts to ensure our students and staff have the most safe and secure learning environments possible. Those conversations included no-cost commitments, no-cost enhancements, and investments that needed to be made to enhance district safety measures, and since those initial discussions, much has been put into action.
And most recently, district officials once again engaged community members to allow opportunities to hear their voices as well as provide unique perspectives and insight from school and district leaders, as well as law enforcement officials. Important issues covered during these community conversations included COVID-19, social media dangers, and other safety and security topics. You can view a quick video recap of the events held in McDonough and Fairview by clicking here.
Feedback garnered from community participants was once again broken down into solutions requiring monetary investments and no-cost investments.
Dr. Madden continued the report to note the board’s work to support student well-being through connectivity and positive relationships. The CARE Teams in each school were held up as an effort in our district that has garnered positive attention from around the nation. CARE stands for Caring Adult Responding Every day, and it includes the guidance and participation by staff members who are led by the newly installed mental health and wellness facilitators at each school.
The new position of the mental health and wellness facilitator that was approved by the board for each school has had a huge impact on this school year so far. Nearly 12,000 students and 4,000 employees have received important support from these key supports.
The consistent outreach by the CARE Team has resulted in greater connectivity and a desire by students to want to be in school. The attendance rate, even during the stressors of the pandemic, has been over 90 percent. This important investment by the board is paying off in the positive support and impact on students and staff.
Board members shared their thoughts on the information provided and some of their recent investments to impact on the district.
“The information shared today speaks to why we invested in the mental health and wellness facilitators,” stated Board Member Makenzie McDaniel (Dist. 2). “They are helping to save lives and reduce stress for students and staff.”
“I’m super grateful that this board of education approved the Henry Cares check-ins platform, as well as those mental health and wellness facilitators,” stated Board Member Sophe Pope (Dist. 4). “Also, I was a part of the community conversations that took place right after the Parkland shooting, and the checkmarks that you see on this list of investments give me great confidence that the community concerns that were brought forth this last time, will be addressed in the same way.”
2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan
Policy JAA – Equal Educational Opportunities - Update
Executive Director of Legal Compliance Erica Harrison Arnold provided an update to an existing board policy through her report to the board. The update was given to show the new alignments to federal statutes.
The update to this policy reflects where in U.S. law students and families may find the various sources of authority on which the policy is based. Textual citations were added to the United States Code sections where the underlying laws are found, as required by the new Presidential Administration. While the update is a conforming change, Mrs. Harrison Arnold noted the board’s desire for continuous improvement in Henry’s Plan of Action as reasoning for featuring the update.
According to Mrs. Harrison Arnold’s report, policy JAA – specifically – is the vehicle for the district to hear about any area where parents may have concerns about their student’s ability to access their learning based on who the child is. She also articulated that if any barriers exist to learning, district officials want to be made aware and have the opportunity to address them.
The policy updates will be out for public review and comment before the board is to take action to approve them during the January 2022 board meeting.
FY23 Budget Development Cycle and Calendar
Chief Financial Officer Shanika Clay provided a report to the board on the development of the FY23 budget development cycle and accompanying calendar. Her report focused on reminders of the important processes in place to cover budget setting for the general fund, special revenue fund, capital projects fund, and debt services fund.
Development of the annual budget is dependent on various sources which contribute to the revenue streams the district must rely on to present a balanced budget.
The board was briefed on the timeline that many of these revenue sources are presented or updated in addition to key updates usually experienced around any impacts legislative activities at the state, local and federal level may have on the funds received.
Equipped with clearer pictures of revenue support, the district is then able to review all expenditure and budgetary priorities which help to shape the final budget recommendations. The focus of one of the board’s three main priorities as a governing body is the balancing of a budget centered on student growth and achievement and support for the personnel responsible for providing an exceptional education to our students and families.
The budget development has many key inputs for expenditure considerations that must align with the district’s new five-year, community-inspired strategic plan. This plan is the driver of all work in the district, and financial support and prioritization of key initiatives (including the general operation requirements and growth) remain crucial to all budget proposals.
As presented, Mrs. Clay will provide a budget outlook in February, an overview in March, hold the first budget hearing and presentation of a tentative budget in April, and a final budget for consideration and approval in May.
The board’s commitment to this important budget-setting process from the boardroom to the classroom helps to maintain the district vision of every student receiving a high-quality, world-class education. Regarding proposed budget workshops, Board Member Dr. Pam Nutt (Dist. 1) shared her appreciation.
“Thank you for taking the time to do this for us, because I believe a better-informed board can make better decisions together,” stated Nutt.
Other Agenda Items
The following agenda items were either heard during the informational items portion of the study session or approved as a part of the business items for the evening meeting’s formal actions:
2023-24 and 2024-25 Proposed School Calendars – The board received proposals for both the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school year calendars. The two calendars are now out for public review and comment before they take action on them during the January 2022 board meeting. The proposed calendars can be found by clicking here.
HVAC Modifications Bid Tabulation – Bid tabulations were revealed for two HVAC modifications at Austin Road Middle School and Union Grove High School. The modifications require the replacement of cooling towers at each school. The contracts for the work totaling $449,000 was awarded to Presley, Inc. Funds will be paid for through ESSER II allocations.
Panola Mountain Greenway Trail Right of Way Acquisition – Phase 1B – On October 9, 2017, Henry County Schools BOE approved Phase 1 Right of Way Acquisition for the Panola Mountain Greenway Trail. On February 8, 2021, Henry County Schools BOE approved a Statement of Support concerning the proposed path of Phase 1B of the project. This final Right of Way Acquisition will be for the previously approved route of trail and termination at the northern parking lot of Austin Road MS. The board unanimously approved the Henry County Department of Transportation’s acquisition request seeking right-of-way for 2.093 acres total concerning the eastern portion of the ARMS/ARES property. The acquisition will earn the district $27,300 for the acreage.
Resolution to authorize Henry County Schools to develop and implement a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Henry County Community Partners – The board unanimously approved a resolution for the development and implementation of an MOU with Henry County community partners for establishing the Handle With Care program to support students who have been exposed to trauma.
Sick Leave Bank Committee 2022 – The board unanimously approved the proposed list of employees for the 2022 Sick Leave Bank Committee.
Leaders on the Move
Assistant Principal – Dutchtown High School
Executive Director – Facilities & Maintenance
Director – Maintenance
Awards and Recognition
1. Athletics – Academic Cup
2. Model Water Town Competition
3. Board of Education – Governance Team of the Year Finalist, Exemplary Board, Leading Edge Award Winner
Henry County High Point
Dr. Pam Nutt – Dist. 1
Dr. Nutt shared congratulations with the McDonough High School’s girls flag football team for making it to the Elite 8 of the state playoffs. Luella High School’s football team was congratulated for making it to the 2nd round of the state playoffs. Luella High School and Ola High School’s competition cheer teams were celebrated for earning spots in the state competition. Gidget Gue, Ola High School’s AD was featured for being named the AAAAA-Region 4 AD of the Year. Ola Elementary’s Junior Beta Club earned top spots in competition at the state competition. Luella Middle School’s school council, parent volunteers, and a local non-profit were featured for coming together to celebrate the school staff. Many schools were also noted for their upcoming band and chorus concerts this month.
Mr. Makenzie McDaniel – Dist. 2
Mr. McDaniel congratulated the Luella High School football team for making it to the 2nd round of the state playoffs. Luella High School’s competition cheer team was also celebrated for earning a spot in the state competition. Hampton High School AD Ashley Lott was congratulated for being named the AAAA-Region 5 AD of the Year. Mt. Carmel Elementary’s Junior Beta Club was noted for hosting a schoolwide canned food drive, which collected over 2,500 canned goods to support the Liberty Hill Community Food Pantry. Fabion Vicks, a counselor at Dutchtown Middle School was highlighted for being chosen to present at a national conference in Austin, Texas, in 2022. The Luella High School basketball team was featured for being ranked #1 in AAAA. Many schools were also noted for their upcoming band and chorus concerts this month. He thanked all the teachers and staff for their efforts and wished everyone a happy holiday season.
Mrs. Holly Cobb – Dist. 3
Mrs. Cobb congratulated the Union Grove High School competition cheer team for making it to the state competition. She also shared congratulations with the IMPACT Academy Beta Club for their showing in the competitions at the state convention. Walnut Creek Elementary students were featured for their canned food drive in support of the Georgia Food and Resource Center. East Lake Elementary and Union Grove High School were noted for their establishment of a Big Brother Big Sister club. Jayda Hendrickson from McDonough High School was noted for earning a $500 scholarship for her participation in the Teen Think Tank Project. Many schools were also noted for their upcoming band and chorus concerts this month. She wished everyone a happy holiday season and Merry Christmas.
Mrs. Sophe Pope – Dist. 4
Mrs. Pope started her remarks by congratulating the Eagle’s Landing High School and Woodland High School girls flag football teams for making it to the Sweet 16 of the state playoffs. She also noted that the Woodland Middle School Gentlemen of Quality Club held a Dads and Donuts Drive-Thru event which was well attended. The Woodland Middle School Junior Beta club was also noted for their canned good collection which resulted in over 750 items collected for a local food bank. Kindness of staff members was recognized with the example of the Flippen Elementary AP and coach supporting a peer by changing a flat tire. Many schools were also noted for their upcoming band and chorus concerts this month. She wished everyone a Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
Mrs. Annette Edwards – Dist. 5
Mrs. Edwards celebrated the Woodland High School girls flag football team for making it to the Sweet 16 of the state playoffs. She also congratulated former Dutchtown High School and current Alabama football player, Will Anderson Jr. for earning the Nagurski trophy for the best defensive player in college football. The Woodland Elementary Young Men of Distinction was featured for their support of Operation Christmas Tree and Generationz Church to support over 20 families with a Thanksgiving basket. The school’s counseling department also partnered with United Food Force in McDonough to host a canned goods and toy drive in support of 200 families. Many schools were also noted for their upcoming band and chorus concerts this month. She wished everyone a safe and happy holiday season.
Mary Elizabeth Davis – Superintendent
Supt. Davis celebrated Will Anderson Jr., a Dutchtown High School alum and current Alabama Crimson Tide football player for his performance and accomplishments in the SEC championship game. She noted her appreciation for the board and the extension of their trust in her leadership of the district. She also shared her appreciation for the employees in the district and the work they do to support the best public education right here in Henry County Schools. She closed her remarks by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.