Union County school buses to get cameras/tracking; millage rate rollback of 11.780

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Blairsville, GA – The Union County Board of Education met at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 for their monthly Workshop and Meeting. UCS Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield and all board Members were present, except for District 4 Member Kevin Potts.

UCS Employees Bill Driscoll and Stanley Garrett addressed the Board regarding cameras and tracking of school buses. Driscoll and Garrett explained the technological aspects of the camera/tracking system being considered and offered advice regarding the seven bids that were submitted. The Board Members questioned Driscoll and Garrett extensively about the costs for consideration at the Meeting. The Board approved the low bid from 24/7 Security, Inc. in the amount of $83,647 on Dr. Rayfield’s recommendation.

Dr. Rayfield recommended that the Board accept the rollback millage rate of 11.780. The previous millage rate was 11.787. The rollback rate, he said, has been duly advertised for the required 30 days. The Board accepted the 11.780 millage rate.

Dr. Rayfield said that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) had been entertained between Union County School District and Union General Hospital for the acquisition of an athletic trainer for students who need minor physical therapy assistance. He said that the school Athletic Department had received notice that they were no longer able to use the local vendor. Dr. Rayfield said that Union General Hospital (UGH) had acquired a physical trainer/therapist and that UCS could use the trainer for half the yearly salary ($18,532/yr) and get unhindered use of the person such that they would work at the hospital only during off-time from the school district; that is, a full-time physical trainer for the school district for half the price. Dr. Rayfield recommended that the Board accept this MOU. The Board accepted.

Courtney Waller, Director of School Nutrition

Dr. Rayfield introduced Courtney Waller, Director of School Nutrition, who requested that the Board approve the purchase of a fryer for the elementary school. She said the fryer they have has been out of commission for three years. She said it would be a big help in getting hot food to the elementary students and recommended the lowest bid for the Board’s consideration. The Board approved the purchase of a new fryer in the amount of $11,544.18.

The Board accepted a 21st Century Learning Grant in the amount of $297,974 through the Georgia Dept. of Education specifically for Woody Gap School. The money is for an after school program; a highly successful one, said Dr. Rayfield.

The Board accepted a $2,000 Grant from 4-H AmeriCorp in cooperation with UGA to pay a student performing the duties of an office assistant at the Extension Office. The Board accepted the Grant.

Josh Davis, Career Technical & Agricultural Education Director at UCHS addressed the Board with updated information on the CTAE Plan. The Board accepted the Plan on Dr. Rayfield’s recommendation.

Dr. Rayfield reported that there is exactly the same number of students at this time that there were last year: 2,544. He said there were 30 more high school students than last year, but there were declines in the number of primary school students and other areas such that the total number of students remained the same as last year.
Dr. Rayfield said the FY 2018 Board Training Plan needs to be submitted to the state by September 15th. He urged the Board to review the various classes offered and make a decision as to which classes they would be interested in at what times so they could coordinate with the vendor(s).

Recognition was given to the UCHS Athletic Department and the UCHS athletes for their award for sportsmanship in all that they do.

School Principal Quarterly Reports were accepted by the Board.

Elain Buckley remarked during Public Comment that she felt it is absurd that she was asked to be interviewed prior to being scheduled to address the Board at a School Board Meeting. She then said she has reservations about there being no accounting of how money is spent after it has been appropriated. She said it was her understanding that money had been appropriated to purchase several school busses in the recent past, but she could see only one bus being purchased. She also said the Board was supposed to tell the Superintendent what to do, not the other way around.

Work Session                                                                                               Meeting

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at www.FetchYourNews.com

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UCBOE recognizes Technology Students Association national winners, votes to open bidding on school bus cameras

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Blairsville, GA – The Union County Board of Education (UCBOE) convened at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 for the July Workshop. The regular July Monthly Meeting immediately followed. UCS Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield, UCHS Principal C.T. Hussion and all Board Members were present.

UCHS 9th and 10th grade students Steven Williams, Derrick Harwood, Brian Williams, Will Harkins, Thomas Melendorf, Andrew Walker, Sarah Cook, Evelyn McBride and Madison Yost were recognized for their winning first place in the 9/10 Written Essay contest at the Technology Students Association 2017 TEAMS Conference in Orlando, FL. Teachers and sponsors Dr. Melissa Bridges and Alecia Frizzell were also recognized. A video of the TSA Awards Ceremony can be viewed here. This was a national competition where UCHS competed against students from all across America… and took first place!

UCS transportation employee Bill Driskell addressed the Board regarding cameras and GPs services for school busses. Installation of cameras and GPS technology on UCS school busses is being considered. Driskell said he and Stanley Garrett had spoken with three vendors that deal in camera and GPS systems and that they had gotten three quotes on three different levels of systems. Discussion ensued about the pros and cons of each level. Because the operation of a cellular, real time system would involve a data connection that would cost an additional $16,000 – 18,000 per year and would not be accessible in all areas of the county, that level was discarded. The Board did direct Driskell and Garrett to move forward with the formal bidding process for a less costly system.

Dr. Rayfield informed the Board that there would be at least an early dismissal on August 21, the day of the upcoming eclipse. He said that the estimates at this time are so varied that it is difficult to make a decision, but that it might be prudent to close for a full day. He said he will meet with the Union County EMA twice more before the event, but that currently Towns, Rabun, White, Stephens and Union County Schools are all going with early dismissal. He said UCS is partnering with the Union County Chamber of Commerce in securing viewing glasses for students for the eclipse event and designating the stadium and the parking area behind the baseball/softball fields as viewing areas.

Dr. Fred Rayfield

Dr. Rayfield recommended that the Board accept, because of an increase in the digest, the proposed rollback millage rate of 11.780; a decrease from 11.787. This proposed millage rate will sit on the table and must be advertised for 30 days.

The Board unanimously approved the Family Connection Council on Alcohol and Drug Contract as submitted following an update by Katy Jones on the Union County Family Connection and their accomplishments over the past year. Dr. Rayfield said that UCS is the physical agent for Family Connection Grant Funds. Jones said that the State had changed their focus from an individual centered mentoring program to an environmental program where Family Connection would use the Grant funds to target alcohol use in general.

Katy Jones

The Board unanimously approved the annual renewal of the contract between Union and Towns Counties such that Union County would provide alternative education services to Towns County for a fee of $25,000.

The Board unanimously accepted and approved a petition by Cameron Hughes on Dr. Rayfield’s recommendation for early graduation.

The Board unanimously approved revisions to the School Governance Team Handbook on Dr. Rayfield’s recommendation.

The Board Unanimously approved the May 2017 Financial Report on Dr. Rayfield’s recommendation.

Dr. Rayfield reported to the Board as required that the Sick Leave Bank showed 371 employees with 223 days.

With no further business to conduct, the Meeting adjourned.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at www.fetchyournews.com

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Union County High School Scholarship Night recognizes stellar graduating students

Graduation

Blairsville, GA – Though rain was falling by the bucket outside, scholarships were flying like confetti inside at the 2017 Union County High School Scholarship Night Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, which was held at the new UCHS Fine Arts Center. Most of the UCHS 2017 Graduating Class was present on stage, their parents filling the audience. Beth Stafford opened the ceremony with a welcome to everyone. Dr. Fred Rayfield started with recognition of 2017 Class Valedictorian Madison Leigh Horinek and 2017 Class Salutatorian Adam Joseph Bachman. Horinek will be attending the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta State University in Augusta, GA. Bachman will be majoring in computer science at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, GA.

UCHS 12th Grade Counselor Stephanie Keller stepped up and began with the college scholarships. Colleges and universities that awarded scholarships to UCHS students were: Agnes Scott College, Anderson University, Emmanuel College, Fort Valley State University, Jacksonville State University, Lee University, Lincoln College of Technology, North Georgia Technical College, Oral Roberts University, Savannah College of Art and Design, Toccoa Falls College, Truett McConnell College, University of North Georgia and Young Harris College. Following the school scholarships were the Union County Schools Foundation Scholarships and Local Scholarships, of which there were 62.

Graduating from high school is a big deal to the young people who make it; and it is a big deal. Graduating with honors is an even bigger deal. Fetch Your News salutes the UCHS Graduating Class of 2017.

*Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at www.fetchyournews.com

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Union County Board of Education: student Somerset Rabb recognized; school cafeteria prices going up; Financials and Tentative 2018 Budget approved

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Blairsville, GA – The Union County Board of Education convened on Tuesday, May 16 at 7 p.m., immediately following the Budget Hearing, for their May Meeting. UCS Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield and all Board Members were present. Many of the attendees from the Budget Hearing stayed for the Meeting.

UCHS Principal John Hill and Special Ed Director Donna Dixon recognized UCHS SpEd student Somerset Rabb for his accomplishments. Dixon said Rabb is the only SpEd student in the entire district to receive the RESA Student of Excellence Award and one of only 12 recipients statewide. Hill said he remembers all of the four years that Rabb spent at UCHS; he said he couldn’t be more proud of anyone for their accomplishments.

L to R: UCS Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield, UCHS Principal John Hill, UCHS Senior Somerset Rabb

L to R: UCHS Principal John Hill, UCS SpEd Director Donna Dixon, UCHS Senior Somerset Rabb

Courtney Waller addressed the Board concerning School Cafeteria prices. Palmer said every year she is required by the USDA to do a calculation to make sure that food service is taking in enough money to cover expenses. She said that this year her calculations indicated that a raise in paid lunch prices of ten cents for each group was necessary. Waller said a ten cent raise would be good for the next two years. Breakfast would remain free for all students, she said. Dr. Rayfield concurred with Waller’s recommendation and the Board unanimously approved.

Dr. Rayfield addressed the Board concerning Principals’ Quarterly Reports and the March 2017 Financial Report. He said everything seems to be in order, there are no major discrepancies and spending is in line for this time of year. The Board unanimously approved the Financials on Dr. Rayfield’s recommendation.

Dr. Rayfield addressed the Board concerning the Tentative 2018 Budget. He said that the Budget had been scrutinized several times, that the Board had 2-year comparisons in front of them and the he and Barbra Dahncke were open for any questions they may have. He said he felt positive about the Budget, that it was ready for advertisement through the required 30-days. He said he recommended that the Tentative 2018 Budget go ‘on the table’ and await adoption or revision at the June BOE Meeting and be ready for final approval by June 30, 2017. The Board approved the Tentative 2018 Budget.

UCS Assessment & Compliance Coordinator David Murphy addressed the Board concerning School Governance Team (SGT) revisions. He said the SGT manual has not been revised in 4 years and was in need of clarification. Murphy went on to focus on several areas where revisions were made. Murphy stressed fresh ideas and more diversification. Dr. Rayfield applauded the revisions. The revisions were accepted unanimously by the Board.

The Board broke for an Executive Session. Upon their return, the Board accepted all personnel recommendations en masse. Dr. Rayfield said that all personnel changes would be on the UCS Website the following day. The Meeting then adjourned.

A video of the entire Board Meeting can be viewed here.

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Union County Schools’ Public Budget Hearing draws standing-room-only crowd; highly positive for BOE

News

Blairsville, GA – The Union County board of Education convened on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 6 p.m. for the second required Budget Hearing for the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget. UCS Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield and all Board Members were present. Unlike any recent BOE Meetings, a gallery of about a hundred Union County residents, parents and UCS students were on hand for the Hearing and the Board Meeting that immediately followed; it was standing-room-only.

UCS Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield

The Budget Hearing began with a PowerPoint presentation by Dr. Rayfield highlighting several Budget items of concern that were brought to light at the April UCBOE Budget Hearing. Dr. Rayfield pointed out that though UCS is the eleventh highest out of 14 school systems in our district (Hall Co. has two), with per-pupil expenditures of $9,600 per year (three year average), the UCS graduation rate was 97.6 per cent in 2016; an unheard of number today. He also pointed out that UCS has the highest CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance Index) scores out of all 14 school systems in the district. He said we could lower that per-pupil expenditure number, but the other statistics would likely suffer for it. He said that having a stellar school system, like ours here in Union County, comes with a cost. Dr. Rayfield also mentioned that, of the 13 counties in our district, only two have lower millage rates than Union County; all others are higher.

Dr. Rayfield addressed the concerns about fiscal responsibility stemming from the Tentative FY 2018 Budget showing a deficit of $1.3M. He said the Tentative Budget, which included an estimate in an Expenditures line item titled “Facilities Acquisition and Construction” of $5.0M, turned out to be $3.8M, which is 1.2M less than the estimate. So, he said, there is no 1.3M deficit. And, he said, we have a $29,397 excess of Revenues in the General Fund.

Dr. Rayfield also pointed out that nearly 67 per cent of the Budget goes to Instruction, as it should. Only 5.92 per cent, he said, goes to School Administration and only 10.28 per cent goes to maintenance and operations.

To conclude his presentation, Dr. Rayfield addressed the fact that the Tentative FY 2018 Budget is larger than the 2017 budget. The reason for that, he said, is because of the two per cent raise mandated by the Governor. However, he said, this time the State is covering most of the attendant increase in instruction cost.

UCBOE Chairwoman Cynthia Odom

UCS student with her mother speak at Budget Hearing

Chairwoman Cynthia Odom opened the floor for Public comment. She announced that since so many people had signed up to speak, the time limit would have to be restricted to two minutes instead of three for each speaker.

The comments made were largely supportive of the Superintendent, the Board and the Tentative FY 2018 Budget. Union County resident Pat Thibodeaux questioned the alleged $1.3M deficit, to which Dr. Rayfield repeated his explanation of why there is no deficit. Union County resident Linda Hill asked what studies had been made to discern that the return on expenditures for new buildings was worthwhile. Both Dr. Rayfield and the Board responded that, though there was not time for an answer to that question in the Hearing, they would get that information to her as soon as possible. The other speakers were highly complementary to both Dr. Rayfield and the Board; many were happy to bear the burden of continuing with the current ESPLOST in Union County for the good of UCS because, they said, it’s good for our kids. Others, as pictured to the right, testified to the soundness and quality of the Union County School System.

A video of the entire event can be seen below.

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