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School bus route issues

The Madison County School Board met Tuesday, August 18 at 6 p.m. The meeting began with public comment. A woman approached the podium with concerns about transportation. She was told two weeks ago by the School Board that her niece and nephew would be picked up at their bus stop on Bailey Grave Road in Greenville. On the first day of school, the bus failed to pick up the three kids waiting at the bus stop, but no one notified that there would be no bus stop at the expected stop before school even began. “I'm having to get [the kids] up an hour earlier and take them to my sister's so she can take them to school,” said the lady. “This is why people don't want to go to public schools,” said Board Member VeEtta Hagan. “We say one thing, and then there's another thing being done, and we need to stand down on our word.” School Superintendent Doug Brown assured the board and the woman at the podium that a solution would be found after the meeting. Hagan was also concerned about the heavily wooded areas around the bus stops that many children have to walk down in order to reach their bus stop. “We just can't afford to go door-to-door,” said Chairman Kenny Hall. “Would you want your kid walking down a dark railroad?” asked the woman at the podium. “Who would want their child walking down a country lane or a country wooded area like that?” Hagan asked. After amends were made to solve the transportation issue and the conversation died down, the Items Recommended for Individual Consideration were accepted. Item 11a was added to the agenda before public comment and dealt with Professional Development for teachers.

“I would like to see the board add Professional training outside of the 180 days in the classroom,” said Chairman Hall. “It can be done on the half days and then some other days.” The board approved adding Professional Development to the teachers' schedules on days outside of the normal school days. Next, Truancy Intervention Procedures and an added agenda, Hospital Contract, were approved by the board. Superintendent Doug Brown brought up three different contracts regarding Boys and Girls Club. The first contract discussed the after-school program called SMART Moves that the Boys and Girls Club will be conducting. SMART Moves is a program allowing members of the Boys and Girls Club to work with students in school settings to provide guidance for well-being, decision-making skills and personal success instruction. “This is a program we believe will be very beneficial to our children,” said Brown. The program will be during non-instructional school hours in Lee, Greenville and Pinetta for 10 days per month. The second contract was the Operations Agreement with Boys and Girls Club. The Boys and Girls Club will operate at Lee, Greenville and Pinetta after school until 6 p.m. Snacks, tutoring and other activities will be involved. The third contract for the Boys and Girls Club discussed the After-school Snack Program. It outlined the requirements for snack storage, times of snacks and permission slips for the school district. Snacks are anticipated to be served after school from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. All three contracts were approved.

Brown hopes to have the program running from early September to the last day of school, May 27, 2016. The next item up for approval was a proposal for a charter school from the Madison County Creative Arts Academy for grades K-8. There will be presentations and workshops outlining the details of the charter school between September 8 and September 29. The board then approved Health Care changes and Screened School Volunteers. Personnel Changes were approved 4-1. Chief Operations Officer took the floor to inform the board about substitute teachers. The school district is looking for ways to cut costs spent on substitute teachers and wants to open up several paraprofessional positions in Pinetta, Lee and Greenville. There are also two paraprofessional positions at Madison County High School. Doug Brown also spoke of possible paraprofessionals at Madison County Central. Approximately $300,000 were spent on substitutes last year, and hiring paraprofessionals that are familiar with the school and its culture will save the district money. The hired paraprofessionals will work alongside of teachers. “To me, this would be a far better solution than using a substitute to fill a spot every once and a while,” said Brown. Staffing Table Revisions were approved. In order to accommodate additional students, there is a need for another fourth grade teacher at Madison County Central School.

There are a total of 1,210 students attending Central, and 110 of those students are fourth graders. The board approved the motion to add another fourth grade teacher at Madison County Central. The last thing up for discussion was the Construction Project Updates. Madison County High School is finished with construction. While some teachers are still in need of furniture, schedules have been established to make sure the teachers get what they need.Flooring will still need to be worked on, but this procedure will not affect testing schedules. The entryway for the high school has been completed, and roofing is expected to begin in the next four weeks. “I was at the high school yesterday morning,” said Doug Brown. “The students were making their way to the portables very smoothly. It was a really good atmosphere even though there was a lot of chaos.”

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