On November 9, the Appling County Board of Education met with all members (Stewart Reeves, Justin Orvin, Dr. Lynn Overstreet, Sabrina Turner) present, Dr. Areatha Virgil via Zoo. After the invocation and the pledge, they adopted the agenda with two changes: Valentine’s deliveries to the schools and Wi-Fi.

The following retirees were recognized: Charles Davis (33.5 yrs.); Cathy Williams (29.8 yrs.); Jan Strickland Lewis (29 yrs.); Lisa Stone (25.7 yrs.); Debbie Carter (34.3 yrs.); Pam Walker (30 yrs.); Renea McCall (28 yrs.); Cecil Valdine Griffis (11.5 yrs.).

New forms for fundraisers have been designed, and the superintendent will ask the board to approved them next meeting. Each player sends out 10 emails for donations, hoping to have at least one respond. The newest club is the Bass Fishing Club.

Under work force development, Dr. Copeland explained that the college and career academy will be named Southern Pines College and Career Academy. Jeff Davis, Bacon, Wayne, and Appling will share one school with the same purpose and vision. This will build strong bonds among systems because of the comprehensive needs assessment. The Chambers of Commerce sent it out because they have better contacts than school systems. Among the courses to be offered are auto fundamentals, nursing, forestry, drone tech, business tech, cyber studies, industrial systems, construction, plumbing, masonry, electrical construction, and welding. They are also looking at putting in some welding closets if they can work out the electrical and ventilation problems. These needs were developed by the four counties’ businesses. The college will be a separate building to the right of the current one. On the 19th they will meet with the governing board.

The superintendent reported that she met with Sheriff Melton and discussed safety. The high school still has two SRDs, and each of the other schools has one each.

Denise Rentz gave an update on Workers’ compensation, reporting that she and Stephanie Tidwell recently did a walk thru loss review with their insurance representative, Stephanie Tidwell. They partner with the insurance company to look at various areas in the schools that could have problems and might need changes made. Tidwell makes suggestions as to what changes need to be made. The school system is trying to minimize loses. She hasn’t given her final report yet, but she looked at areas where losses have occurred in the past, like lunchrooms, etc.

CFO Adrienne Taylor discussed the fleet maintenance salary schedule. When the salary scale went on the new format, two employees didn’t really fit: school nutrition managers and fleet maintenance. They were grandfathered in to make them fit. It didn’t affect most people at all. The BOE was asked to think about this and approve it at the next meeting.

Taylor then gave the Financial and the eSplost reports. In September, the system received $630,000.00 and she thought it was a mistake at first. Actually, it wasn’t. There is a big business throughout the state that had coded its taxes wrong and sent the sales tax to the state instead of the counties. The state decided to return that money directly to the counties in lump sums.

Debra Lawrence said that now that she and her team have had time to review virtual learning, they are moving forward with some changes. They got stakeholders’ input. Virtual learners are expected to come back to school second semester unless extenuating circumstances exist. Everyone should have been notified by now. A public notice will go out in The Baxley News-Banner this week.

The school system has been notified that it will receive a technology grant of $20,000.00, which come from the pennies rounded up for EMC. Devices become obsolete quickly and the system can certainly use the money from any grants that come its way.

The annual board meeting dates will remain at the current times if the board approves that plan at the next meeting. Those times are as follows: work sessions at 8:00 in the morning and all others at 6:00 p.m.

Transportation has given an update on the Wi-Fi situation set up for virtual learners. The system made a big push to update connectivity and went out into the community to offer services. Buses were available at various locations in the county so students could sit in the parking lot and connect to internet if they had no connection or a poor connection at home. The offered connections have been used only 20 hours over a seven-week period. After considering input from Mrs. Lawrence and the principals, Richard Riddle recommends that they discontinue the service because of lack of usage. They’ve tried to do everything possible for the students, but they do have services at schools. Several restaurants have Wi-Fi as well. They are also quietly partnering with some other folks out in the community. The COVID coordinator has done a great job, but numbers are rising in the county again.

Merchants asked the school system to go ahead and look at their policies for the coming celebration because vendors will have to order their wares. Of course, much depends on face-to-face instruction.

The group then voted themselves into executive session, after which they approved under consent the following employees to resign:

- Mamie Rayner - SPED  Paraprofessional - ACMS

- Milicent Wilcox - SPED Professional – ACES

Under consent, the Board approved to hire the following:

- Carla Woods - Data Clerk - ACHS

- Joni Lee - SPED Teacher – ACHS

Under consent, the Board approved the following positions to open:

- SPED Paraprofessional - ACMS

- SPED Paraprofessional – ACES

The meeting was then adjourned.