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School board recognizes literary successes

Photo by Mike Davis

Photo by Mike Davis

The Butts County Board of Education held its April meeting on Monday, April 18 with board members Ernest Battle, Clifford Marshall, Bobby Craven and Millard Daniel present. Board Member Johnny Morris was absent from the meeting.

First on the agenda were recognitions of outstanding achievements by students of the Butts County school system. Jasmine White achieved a perfect score on the state eighth-grade writing test. Butts County School Superintendent Lynda White said that Jasmine White is the first Butts County student to earn a perfect score on the test. Writing topics are randomly assigned for the test. Jasmine White said that her topic asked whether celebrities were good role models, and her premise was that they are not.

Next to be recognized were Jackson High School students who competed in the region and state literary meet, with Stephen Crocker as coach. Zach Cook placed first in the region in Boy's Dramatic Interpretation; he also competed in Boy's Extemporaneous Speaking. Lindsay Collins received first place in the region and third place in the state in Girl's Dramatic Interpretation.

Wytavious Stanford was awarded first place in the region and third place at state in Boy's Solo. Tajia Malave earned second place at region in Girl's Solo.

The Jackson High School Girls' Trio of Kassie Bishop, Tajia Malave, and Lindsay Collins won second place at region. The Boys' Quartet of Wytavious Stanford, Sanchez Miller, Blake Kitchens, and Quinterrius Watson was awarded second place at the Region 4-AAA literary meet.

In Boy's Essay, Tyler Van Dusen won second place; in Girl's Essay, Laura Keldie won second place. Shelby Beth Arnold competed for Jackson in Girl's Extemporaneous Speaking.

Superintendent White asked Keldie about the topic of her winning essay, and Keldie explained that she wrote about the mythological references in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness."

White asked the members of the Boys' Quartet who were present for a sample of their winning performance, and Stanford, Miller, and Watson impressed those in attendance with "Bound for Jubilee."

Down to business

The board voted to go into executive session regarding personnel and legal matters after completing other business on the agenda.

The board approved disposition of items on the surplus property list, which included items from the Henderson Middle School, Jackson High School, and Stark Elementary School technology offices. The items were labeled "Does Not Work" or "Obsolete."

The board approved White's recommendation to form a committee of school personnel to identify needs that could be funded by a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) IV.

The committee will include the superintendent, associate superintendent for instruction, director of technology, director of finance, supervisor of operations, coordinator of transportation, the five school principals, and some additional central office staff. Board Chairman Battle asked whether a citizen should be included on the committee, and White said the group would be expanded to include citizens at a later time.

The committee will review the need for a new high school and the possibility of renovating the existing Jackson High School, the heating and cooling systems in the middle and high schools, and operational and instructional technology in all schools.

There will be board work sessions on the budget on Mondays, April 18, May 9, and May 23 at 7 p.m., with plans to adopt the preliminary fiscal year 2012 budget on May 23. The superintendent's recommendation was approved.

The board voted to place two school policies on 30-day review, one on the code of conduct and one on bullying. White explained that the changes in the policies are to meet requirements by the Georgia State Board of Education in accordance with changes in state law on bullying. It was required that a stand-alone policy on bullying be developed. White said that because schools are in the process of preparing handbooks for the next school year, approval of these policies is needed as soon as possible.

One change in policy is that if a student in grades six through 12 is found by a hearing officer, panel or tribunal to have committed bullying three times in a school year, the student would be assigned to an alternative program.

The board voted approval for Henderson Middle School students to build a 12-foot by 12-foot greenhouse at the school as part of the mathematics curriculum. Building materials have already been purchased through an Academic Learning grant.

A fiscal year 2011 budget amendment increasing the general fund budget from $28,598,471 to $30,629,845 was approved, showing an increase in funds from local and other sources and a decrease in funds from state sources.

Letter on accreditation

Superintendent White shared a letter from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, and its parent organization, AdvancED, congratulating the Butts County school system for remaining fully accredited. White explained that the Butts County school system received accreditation as a whole two years ago, and that accreditation will not be reviewed for three more years.

However, the system files periodic reports as a component of the five-year accreditation. The most recent report was reviewed and accepted on Feb. 2, showing Butts County has faithfully executed and monitored strategies to remain in compliance.

Parent conference data for March 2011 showed 453 conferences at Stark Elementary, 175 conferences at Jackson Elementary, 463 conferences at Daughtry Elementary, 196 conferences, including those by telephone, at Henderson Middle, and 186 conferences, throughout the semester, at Jackson High.

Also during the April meeting, Associate Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Sheree Bryant presented Butts County's results on the statewide eighth-grade writing test. Of the 272 students who took the test, 38 did not meet goals for the test, 230 met goals, and four students exceeded the goals.

Compared to the district and the state, Butts County had fewer students who did not meet goals and also had fewer students who exceeded the goals. It had more students in the large middle category of those who met goals than did the district or state. Student writing was evaluated as to ideas, organization, style and conventions -- such as punctuation -- with ideas carrying twice the weight of each of the other three domains.

After returning from an executive session, the school board voted to approve the personnel report without discussion.

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On the net:

Butts County Schools: www.butts.k12.ga.us