BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – The Union County Board of Education held its monthly work session and meeting Tuesday evening, March 20.
A resolution to adopt the Georgia Vision Project was discussed by Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield in the work session and later approved by the board in the regular meeting. As explained by Rayfield, the Georgia Vision Project was established five years ago by Georgia school superintendents, the Georgia School Board Association, business and industry leaders, and numerous educators “all coming together and saying, ‘Look, these are the areas that we think public education should focus on and focus on especially for improvement.’”
According to Rayfield, among those areas that the project recommends for school systems to include in strategic planning and school improvement plans are early learning and success, teaching and learning, teaching and learning resources, human and organizational capital, governance leadership and accountability, culture, climate and organizational efficiency, and financial resources.
Rayfield explained the project’s guidelines will put the school system in good position for its accreditation review next February and also its charter renewal, which will occur near the same time.
“The resolution says our board will include and does agree (with) all of the items that are listed there,” Rayfield stated, “and those recommendations are just that.”
“This is just a framework we can build on, is that correct?” Board member Tony Hunter asked Rayfield.
To this, Rayfield affirmed it was indeed a framework and added that consistency with school systems across the state has been an issue in the past.
The board also approved a board member code of ethics and conflict of interest compliance form for its members to sign. Rayfield explained since 2016, the BOE has had in place a code of ethics and conflict of interest policy, which resulted from state legislation. However, the superintendent stated a policy compliance form still needed to be implemented and signed by all BOE members for accreditation purposes.
The board also renewed its annual subcontract with Family Connection and the Council on Alcohol and Drugs, Inc.
A final reading and adoption of a revised wellness policy for Cherokee County Schools was approved by the board Tuesday night. The revision, as Rayfield explained, is slight, changing the wording of one clause from “all food and beverages made available on campus during the school day shall be consistent with the minimum requirements of federal law” to “all food and beverages available for purchase …”
Several presentations and recognitions were made during the board meeting. The Board of Education itself was recognized and each member given a plaque for Board Appreciation Week, which was last week.
“Board members have a very thankless job,” Rayfield stated. “They have a tough job … They answer not only to the people in their district, but the people they work for, the people they go to church with, and the citizens of Union County.”
The Board of Education consists of District 1 member Janna Akins, District 2 member Tony Hunter, District 3 member and Chairperson Cynthia Odom, District 4 member Keith Potts and District 5 member and Vice Chairperson Patrick White.
Next, Rayfield presented two separate Partner in Education awards to Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia, and to Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (BRMEMC).
Rayfield explained Piedmont College operates a cohort program in Union County and said, “We just appreciate having the very strong partnership with Piedmont College.”
Accepting the award from Piedmont College were Katherine Breithaupt, regional program coordinator, Tim Goss, director of off-campus graduate studies, and Don Gnecco, dean of School of Education.
BRMEMC was also recognized with a Partner in Education award. Rayfield explained crews from BRMEMC have helped with various utility issues at schools multiple times, including a Union County High School football game this past season when the field’s lights went off suddenly and crews from BRMEMC were on the scene within minutes.
“Many times, when we ask for those things we say (to BRMEMC), ‘Bill us or let us know what that costs,’ and they say, ‘Absolutely not, we’re just glad to do it,'” Rayfield said of BRMEMC willingness to help the school system.
Two Union County High School (UCHS) seniors, Emmi Schakat and Cole Wright, were recognized for having been accepted to West Point Military Academy.
“Congratulations to these two seniors for an outstanding honor and appointment to one of our military academies,” Rayfield stated.
UCHS Principal C.T. Hussion was also on hand to congratulate the high school’s Mock Trial team that recently participated in the state Mock Trial competition. Hussion announced that UCHS won the district for the third straight year. The principal explained unlike sports districts and regions across the state that group schools according to population, mock trial competitions involve schools of all sizes, public or private.
“They competed at the highest level, and you should be very proud,” Hussion said of the UCHS Mock Trial team.
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