The Pickens County Board of Education heard plans for Monday’s back to school and approved several measures, including a tentative FY 21 budget and heard a presentation about Hill City’s recognition as a wildlife habitat.
Amy Smith, Chief Financial Officer, said the system looks good financially despite the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We don’t have any furloughs and the instructional funds are intact,” said Smith. “I feel very good about this budget and I have to work with it. We didn’t have to cut a lot from any one area.”
She said this was achieved due to a decrease in expenditures, even though the system lost several million dollars.
“We may have to dip into reserves,” she conceded.
The system currently has two budgets open, FY20 and FY21. The FY20 budget will be closed in October and they have collected 99.94-percent of revenue. Smith added they will continue to collect property tax funds.
The board passed several spending resolutions until the budget could be completed. Under a spending resolution, the system can spend 1/12th of the previous year’s budget. Smith said the system has been well below the amount.
The board also approved a spending resolution for September, allowing time for the FY21 budget to be finalized.
Back to School
Students start returning to school on Monday, Aug. 17 under a staggered schedule.
Read the reason by the change in plans for Pickens' students to return to school, here.
Virtual School Update
Pickens Virtual Academy begins Aug. 17, 2020 for all students. Anita Walker, director of the program, said.
Walker said nearly 25-percent, 1,100 students, have enrolled in the virtual academy with more expected to enroll shortly after the start of school. These are students who have medical reasons for doing on-line school.
Because the program became much larger than anticipated, they have added staff to ensure it runs smoothly.
The elementary level has eight full time teachers, one for each grade level plus three supporting teachers. In addition, there will be 13 part-time teachers.
The middle school will have four full time teachers, one for each subject, one special education teacher, and four part-time teachers for gifted and special education support.
The junior high school will have one full time teacher and 31 part-time teachers while the high school will have 22 part-time teachers.
See the presentation here.
Planning for changes
The school system has a pandemic team in place with guidelines for parents and school staff on how to handle suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Smith said the system has built a great relationship with Piedmont Mountainside Hospital and the local health department to develop plans, including what happens where there is a possible exposure versus what happens with there is a confirmed case.
“We’ve had 39 reports this week between students and staff and school hasn’t started,” said Smith. Parents are encouraged to stay in contact with the schools about their children who may have been exposed.
There will be a short form for parents to fill out if their child has been exposed or has a confirmed case. The system will then initiate contact tracing in order to keep accurate data.
Hill City Elementary
The school was recognized as a Certified National Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. The school features a garden and pond with flowers that attract a variety of insects and animals, giving the school a hands on, outside place to learn.
Check back for a full story.
In other board news, the board:
- Approved age-appropriate sex education curriculum for grades Kindergarten through ninth grade that includes how to recognize abuse.
- Approved a resolution supporting reconstruction of a bridge on Ga. Hwy. 136.