By Jamie Gardner
The Appling County Board of Education held two meetings last week and there were several surprise departures from the school system. At the Monday, April 24 meeting, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Sandy Dominy and Human Resources Director Denise Rentz announced their retirements/resignations, effective June 30, and both were approved by BOE members. Then on Thursday, April 27, Superintendent Dr. Scarlett Copeland announced her retirement/resignation.
The board went into executive session on Thursday for personnel purposes. Dr. Copeland did not participate in the closed session in the BOE meeting room. However, Board Attorney Graham Floyd came out of the session on several occasions to talk to Copeland. The News-Banner has learned that the BOE unanimously agreed to pay the remainder of Copeland’s contract, which has a little over one year remaining, and her last day will be June 30.
Carver speaks again about safety
At the April 24 meeting, Jessica Carver spoke to the Appling County BOE members about school safety. Carver stated that after she spoke at a February BOE meeting on the topic, she learned from Sheriff Mark Melton that the most recent safety incident, which involved a gun at Appling Elementary School, the student actually brought the gun to school several days. Carver stated that this is very concerning adding the school system should be proactive. Carver stated that she has requested information from the school system on several occasions. She said that she had requested information from former Safety Coordinator Julie Osborne (recently resigned) asking how long she had been in the safety position. She said Osborne never replied. Carver stated that when Osborne was hired for the position, she had retired/resigned from another position and was rehired at the same meeting at half time (20 hours per week, $40,000 per year according to Carver). She stated that this may have been a policy violation. Carver said that she is now receiving responses to her requests from the BOE’s attorneys instead of employees for the system adding to the audience, “let that sink in for a moment.” She stated that she had reached out to other counties to find out information and was freely given information, adding unlike her own school system. Carver stated she has asked for a copy of the fees charged by the attorneys that responded to her requests and has yet to have this request honored. Carver stated that there had been 10 weapons incidents in the school system this year through early March. Carver said that it is her understanding that the school system has metal detecting wands already in place that are not being used. She stated that maybe these wands could be used as a deterrent. In conclu-
sion, Carver stated it had been very hard getting information from the school system and she is still very concerned about the safety of Appling County students. She stated she would be doing more open records requests.
After she finished speaking, Superintendent Copeland stated that she had talked with Carver the Friday before the meeting. She stated that they did go back over several items with Carver and had prepared additional information/reports requested by Carver that were ready for her to pick up. Dr. Copeland added that the BOE always wants to be as transparent as possible.
Carver stated that she has been asking for records for approximately six weeks and added that she didn’t get a proper response until she requested to be on the agenda again.
Chairman Dr. Lynn Overstreet told Carver that if there was any way he could help, to let him know.
April 24 meeting
Under Superintendent Copeland’s report, she announced the Teachers of the Year. Those honored were Becky Ammons – Appling County High School, Kim Branch – Fourth District Elementary School, Dana Olvera – Altamaha Elementary School, Kim Curry – Appling County Middle School and Selena Head – Appling County Elementary School.
The superintendent also reported the system had received a $100,000.00 grant for upgrading WiFi routers, purchasing administration laptops and scanners, purchasing student headphones and additional security cameras. Dr. Copeland also announced the Appling County Canning Plant had also received a $100,000.00 grant for upgrades including a new boiler, a new 50-gallon jacketed kettle and a new warmer/steam tunnel piping system.
Several ACHS Bass Fishing teams will be participating in the state championship tournament at Clark’s Hill Lake on May 17-20. Teams include Jack Reeves and Fisher Carver with boat captain Chad Carver, Drew Caylor and Tucker McMillan with captain William Caylor, Mara Anderson and Josie Gunter with captain Wayne Anderson and Mabry Fannin and Tucker Mincey with captain Roy Fannin.
Financial reports were presented and unanimously approved.
The first group of REACH Scholars to receive the REACH Scholarships will graduate this year and were honored by the BOE. These students have successfully completed the REACH Georgia Program. Each student will receive a $2,500.00 scholarship each year for up to four years ($10,000.00 total) at a Georgia Hope-eligible public or private university or college. Recipients include Robert Keyhea, Ashley Leon, James Nails and Mariah Smith.
Several of this year’s Young Georgia Author winners on the local level also participated and placed at the region level. The following individuals placed in the competition. Brynlee Poole, from Altamaha Elementary School, placed third for her piece Nana’s Puppy. Natalie Leal, a student at Appling County High School, placed second for her piece The Sun and The Moon. Marisol Hernandez, also a student at the high school, placed second for her piece A Small Tree.
Dr. Copeland reported that the Southern Pines College and Career Academy is on schedule and should be completed by July 2023.
The BOE reviewed policies DFK, DIE, DI and DJCB. All BOE policies can be found on the school system’s website.
The 2023-2024 lay coaches were approved by the BOE.
Field trips were approved for a recreation track meet, ACHS Bass Fishing team, ACHS Track team sectionals.
A fundraiser was approved for the Appling County Elementary Complex for an Art Auction. Art pieces created by students will be auctioned to raise money for the art program at the school. The event is scheduled for May 22.
Following an executive session for personnel, the BOE approved minutes from the March 6 and 13 meetings.
Additional personnel from April 24 meeting
The board approved the following resignations:
- Amy Taylor, PIP Teacher - ACEC
- Sarah Lawrence - Music Teacher - AES
- Decline of Position - Vicki Ogle - Math Teacher – ACHS
The board approved the following to hire for the 2023-2024 school year:
- Candice Shelby - College & Career Readiness Seminar Teacher - ACHS
- Kelsey Marchant - Agriculture Teacher - Young Farmers Advisor - ACHS
- Malarie Peacock - Special Education Teacher - ACHS
- Jessica Stallings - Special Education Teacher - ACHS
- Vickie Williams - Special Education Teacher - ACHS
- Larry Kersey - Math Teacher - ACHS
- Melinda Turner Snell - Lay Coach - Swim Team - ACHS
- Rusty Lovett - Lay Coach - Swim Team - ACHS
- Rasheida Green - ELA Teacher - ACHS
- Keishundra Jackson - Special Education Teacher – ACHS
On a split vote, the BOE also approved hiring Jamey Collins as College and Career Readiness Seminar Teacher at ACHS. BOE members Dr. Lynn Overstreet, Dr. Areatha Virgil, Justin Orvin and Mark Green voted in favor. BOE member Sabrina Turner abstained and reported later that her abstention was due to Collins being a relative.
The BOE voted to open the following positions:
- Music Teacher - AES
- Math Teacher - ACHS
- Preschool Intervention Program Teacher - ACEC
- School Counselor - ACMS
- Agriculture Teacher – ACEC
May 27 meeting
The BOE received information from COO Brent McBride regarding the Appling County Middle School Sports Complex. McBride reported that after making several modifications to the projected $4.2 million original design, the architect believes that the facility can be built for around $3,000,000.00. The COO stated that the BOE had two options. The first option included modifying the building and making it a smaller footprint. The second option was to keep the building as originally presented and only build one baseball field that can also be used as a softball field. The BOE asked representatives from ACMS what they wanted. ACMS Athletic Director Seth Taylor stated that the school would prefer the smaller building and two fields as opposed to one field. Principal Dr. Cathy Campbell added that she agreed with Taylor.
Additional personnel from May 27 meeting
The board approved the following to hire:
- Teresa Roberts, Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Superintendent - Central Office
The Board approved the following positions to hire for the 2023-2024 school year:
- Superintendent, ACSS, For the 2023-2024 School Year
- Assistant Superintendent, ACSS, For the 2023-2024 School Year
- Human Resource Director, ACSS, For the 2023-2024 School Year
- Title I, Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Administrative Assistant – ACSS
May 20 meeting personnel
(Editor’s note: The News-Banner was unable to attend this meeting, but will report the personnel decisions made as reported in preliminary minutes)
The board approved the following resignations/retirees:
- Sheldon Pearce - PE/Coach - ACHS
- Rufus McDuffie - Assistant Principal/Coach - ACHS
- LTC William Daniel Vickery - Army JROTC Senior Army Instructor - ACHS
The board approved the following to hire:
- Caroline Rentz - Early Childhood Teacher - ACEC
- Kiley Freeman - Middle Grades Teacher - ACMS
- Zaccheus Moore - Special EducaEon Inclusion Teacher - ACHS
- Wendy Powell - Assistant Principal – ACHS
The board approved the following to open:
- Physical Education /Health Teacher - ACHS
- Army JROTC Senior Army Instructor - ACHS
- Assistant Principal - ACHS
- Instructional Support Specialist - ACHS
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