Former Superintendent Wilson offers letter to citizens

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Wilson letter to citizens

Wilson letter to citizensJASPER, Ga. – Many citizens in Pickens County have been closely following the developments in the Superintendent position at Pickens Board of Education (BOE) through a series of Special Called Meetings as well as those regular scheduled in the final days of 2019 and early days of 2020.

Even FYN reported statements from Wilson that he would offer a written statement of the proceedings as he resigned during one of the called meetings on December 19, 2019.

Later he was nearly reinstated as questions arose about the validity of the “emergency meetings.” But was voted down by Chairman Tucker Green, board member Joeta Youngblood, and board member Donna Enis.

This week, Dr. Carlton Wilson released a public letter to citizens fulfilling his promise of a written statement from last month. That letter follows:

 

Dear Pickens County,

Cindy and I wanted to take a moment to express our thanks to you as a community. When we relocated here more than 25 years ago we knew we had found our home.  Cindy and I love living in and being a part of this community. We have raised our family here and we have worked to be a part of the community in every aspect. I knew when I interviewed for a teaching job here that this was the place I wanted to teach, coach, and live.  Having had an opportunity to serve as your Superintendent of Schools was one of the greatest honors of my life thus far. I know we have one of the best school systems in the state of Georgia, some of the greatest staff, students, and parents.

We have been overwhelmed and extremely humbled by the love and support from the people of Pickens County.  This is just another reason Pickens County is a great place to live. We love this county and I especially love our school system. The past month has been very difficult and confusing.

Our current school board is the third school board that I have served with as your superintendent. As school boards change board members, even just one, their personalities, priorities, and visions can change. Each school board is different from the boards they replaced. However, I felt it was very important to continual and complete the goals our previous boards had established not knowing these priorities, goals, and visions had changed. The current board never shared with me that that their priorities or visions changed for our school system.  As Superintendent, I have always followed the strategic plan and direction that I was given. That was my job.

I am very proud of the accomplishments, partnerships, and relationships our school system developed over the past couple of years. I am very happy I can say I left the school district knowing every employee received a raise while we reduced the mileage rate for the fourth consecutive year. This took teamwork and I was proud to be a part of it.

I realize when information is not given, people will fill the void with rumors. Just to be clear, I was not given any reason except several of the board members had lost confidence in my leadership. Several members of the Board did not like the direction I was leading the school system. Concerning decisions that I made during my tenure as superintendent, I can assure you that every major decision was made with the school board’s understanding and approval. However, I take full responsibility for all day to day operational issues. Again, that was my job.

It has been a privilege serving the students, staff, and residents of Pickens County. I wish the greatest success to our school system and especially the young people they serve. The students deserve stability and strong leadership from our next Superintendent and the principal’s of our schools. Our teachers deserve the support of not only the board and school leadership but the community. I encourage you to help our community move forward by investing in our school district and helping them move to the next level. Cindy and I are excited to see what the future holds and I look forward to continuing to serve our great community in the future.

Sincerely,

Carlton Wilson

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Dr. Wilson nearly re-instated as Superintendent

Board of Education, News

JASPER, Ga. – Dr. Carlton Wilson was nearly re-instated as Superintendent during the Pickens County Board of Education meeting held on Thursday, January 9, 2020.

Dr. Robert Keller, first public speaker

Dr. Carlson, having recently been forced to resign from his position as Superintendent, was the topic of all four public speakers during the meeting.

Dr. Robert Keller was the first to speak, stating “[…]Watching the videos, as I hope most of you will, you repeatedly berated Superintendent Wilson, and other board members too, repeatedly berated him in regards in what turned out to be trivial events. So once, formally, you finally got it into a private session, you failed to arrive at a consensus, and we had this three to two decision that ultimately resulted in Carlton’s resignation. I think that we’re probably going to see alot more of the three to two decisions just like we’ve seen tonight. Not only was there not a consensus in this arriving at the decision, two publicly stated that they were not even informed of the situation. I’m worried how many more times we’ll see this three to two decision as you direct the school system in the wrong direction.”

All four public speakers, as seen in the video below, were met with positive reactions from a majority of the audience.

Cheryl Sams addressed the council towards the end of the meeting, stating “[…]How did this qualify as an emergency meeting, per the Georgia code? It did not. And Tucker, you know it did not. An emergency meeting can only be when it effects the public safety, public personnel, or public property. How did this qualify for that? And my question is, we pay you $100 a meeting, per day? Well why are there so many called meetings? Did somebody have a bill that they needed to pay? And why are these meetings called if we are required to give five days notice to speak before the board? Why do you do all of these called meetings at a time when most of your constituents are at work, we don’t have ample time to get our name on here… why do you do that? Apparently, you can send out all the surveys you want, but you’ve already shown us you don’t want community input.”

Cheryl Sams, public speaker

Upon hearing from the public, board member Sue Finley made the motion to re-appoint Dr. Wilson as Superintendent of Pickens County schools, seconded only by vice chairman Steve Smith.

Chairman Tucker Green, board member Joeta Youngblood, and board member Donna Enis voted against this motion however, and so it did not pass, leaving Interim Superintendent Dr. Charles Webb to fill the position at this time.

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Pickens County Schools Start Back Today!

Dragon's Corner, News

JASPER, Ga. – Pickens County Schools start back Tuesday, August 6, 2019, and  the official calendar and daily schedule is as follows!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019: First day of school.
All are Monday – Friday.

Pickens County High School / Student Drop-Off: 7 am / Start: 7:45 am / End: 2:45 pm

Pickens Junior High School / Student Drop-Off: 7 am / Start: 7:45 am / End: 2:45 pm

Jasper Middle School / Student Drop-Off: 7:15 am / Start: 8:30 am / End: 3:30 pm

Harmony Elementary School / Student Drop-Off: 7:15 am / Start: 8:30 am / End 3:30 pm

Hill City Elementary School / Student Drop-Off: 7:15 am / Start: 8:30 am / End: 3:30 pm

Tate Elementary School / Student Drop-Off: 7:15 am / Start: 8:30 am / End: 3:30 pm

 

Monday, September 2, 2019: Labor Day Holiday

Friday, September 6, 2019: Progress Reports

Monday, September 23, 2019 – Friday, September 27, 2019: Fall Break

Tuesday, October 15, 2019: End of 1st Nine Weeks

Friday, October 18, 2019: Report Cards

Friday, November 15, 2019: Progress Reports

Monday, November 25, 2019 – Friday, November 29, 2019: Thanksgiving Holidays

Friday, December 20, 2019: End of 2nd Nine Weeks, End of 1st Semester

Monday, December 23, 2019 – Tuesday, December 31, 2019: Christmas Holidays

Wednesday, January 1, 2020 – Friday, January 3, 2020: School Holiday

Monday, January 6, 2020: Inservice

Tuesday, January 7, 2020: Students Return to School

Friday, January 10, 2020: Report Cards

Monday, January 20, 2019: Martin Luther King Holiday

Friday, February 7, 2020: Progress Reports

Monday, February 17, 2020 – Tuesday, February 18, 2020: Winter Break

Wednesday, February 19, 2020 – Friday, February 21, 2020: Potential Inclement Weather Make-Up Days for Students

Tuesday, March 17, 2020: End of 3rd Nine Weeks

Friday, March 20, 2020: Report Cards

Monday, April 6, 2020 – Friday, April 10, 2020: Spring Break

Friday, April 24, 2020: Progress Reports

Friday, May 22, 2020: Last Day of School, End of 4th Nine Weeks, End of 2nd Sesmester

Saturday, May 23, 2020: Graduation Day

Monday, May 25, 2020: Memorial Day

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 – Friday, May 29, 2020: Post Planning
 
 
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School district may receive raises next year

Education, News

JASPER, Ga. – During their FY20 (fiscal year 2020) discussion on Friday, May 31, 2019 the Pickens Board of Education discussed potential raises for the district in the coming year.

According to Chief Financial Officer Amy Smith (presenter pictured to the left above), a 4.45% increase is currently expected, with certified staff receiving a $3,000 state schedule increase, plus a 10% local supplement.

Smith states that this would include a one dollar an hour increase to all non-certified, non-administrative positions but not including bus drivers as they received a two dollar an hour increase last year. However, bus drivers would still receive a 2% state and local increase.

There is expected to be a 75 cent raise for food service workers, and a one dollar an hour increase to food service managers and book keepers.

The raises also vary by number of months worked for certain employees. For example, Smith cites that a 12-month principal would earn $3,900 more total, whereas an 11-month would receive $3,600.

As confirmed by Superintendent Dr. Carlson Wilson, all staff would ultimately be receiving a minimal 2% increase in pay.

No new teachers are currently expected to be hired, though one para-pro is likely to be needed to provide clerical and instructional support, plus virtual school support if needed.

These raises are not guaranteed as of yet, however, as the board has further discussion as well as voting on the proposed changes in upcoming meetings.

Stay tuned for future updates!

 
 
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Vaping Field Test presented to BOE by Clint Anderson

News, Police & Government

JASPER, Ga. – A Vaping Field Test with the potential to examine the chemical composition of solids, powders, liquids, and gels utilizing a handheld laser reader and an updatable database of substances was presented by Clint Anderson of the company Safeware during the Board of Education meeting held on Friday, April 12, 2019.

Clint Anderson of Safeware holding a TacticID model 1064.

The device, called “TacticID”, uses something called “Raman Spectroscopy”, which according to Anderson is the process of firing a laser into a molecule to receive a unique fingerprint for the substance being monitored.

Each substance will have a unique fingerprint. If the substance being read by the laser on board the device is known to the device (utilizing its updatable software dictionary), then the results will be displayed to the operator of the device. If no known substance is found, then the results can be sent off to Safeware for further testing.

Any additional substances discovered will be added to the device via a free software update from Safeware, meaning that new and upcoming substances can be added at no additional cost to the county.

Examples of explosives and hazardous materials detected.

Anderson cites that there are over 10,000 agents currently indexed by the device, and not all are drugs. The TacticID also picks up on explosives and hazardous chemicals, and unlike previous models, the showcased model 1064 also has a much stronger laser with the ability to more easily determine the composition of darker materials. The laser is so strong, in fact, that it can read through bags, vials, etc.

Any drugs examined by the device will return different color codes that quickly determine their federal scheduling. Substances deemed not hazardous will return a green screen. A yellow screen represents drugs that fall under schedules three through five, such as Tylenol containing codeine, ketamine, Xanax, Ambien, Lyrica, etc.

Substances deemed most hazardous, which fall under federal scheduling one and two, will return a red screen. These substances include heroine, cocaine, meth, oxycodone, and even marijuana for reasons unknown to the author.

The TacticID device is ultimately a potential solution to the dangerous unknown substances being found within vaping products throughout the county, as well as others throughout the state. Anderson cites that the device would cost the county $43,831, though this includes all adapters, all future software and firmware updates, etc.

Raman MDMA spectrum examples.

The device would also make it less dangerous for law enforcement agents to check for potential hazardous materials and dangerous narcotics, as they can use the included adapters to scan the substances in question without needing to come into contact with them.

The Board of Education wouldn’t be the only ones to foot the bill. Sheriff Donnie Craig states that there would be other potential county and state funding sources as well, as the device wouldn’t be used just for incidents related to the school system.

Updates will be posted as we receive them!

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF8lYBCxGv8[/embedyt]

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Pickens BOE Presents Several Students with Awards

Dragon's Corner, News

JASPER, Ga. – The Pickens County Board of Education presented awards to several students during their regular board meeting on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

Valedictorian Emily Robinson (left), C. Wallace (right).

Emily Robinson was awarded the title Valedictorian, while Rosa Willis won Salutatorian. These titles are based on class ranking, determined by student Grade Point Average.

Robinson isn’t entirely sure where she wishes to continue her education, though she has narrowed her options down to Emory University, Duke, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins, all of which has already accepted her. 

Willis has chosen Berry College as her college of choice.

The 2019 STAR Student award was presented to Dale Smith, having the highest combined three-part SAT score on the same date. Smith has decided that he will continue his education at the University of North Georgia.

Salutatorian Rosa Willis (left), C. Wallace (right).

Emma Long wasn’t present and won first place in the National Talent Competition at the National FFA Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana earlier this year. This is her second National Award.

On Thursday, March 21, 2019, the Jasper Middle School Math Team, comprised of Jeremy Westbrook, Eric Malcolm, Grayson Ludington, Diego Rivera, Wyatt Richards, Coleman Keener, Ada Keener, and Julie Hermann, won first place at the Berry College Math Competition for the second time this year.

The final round of awards presented were for a 4-H contest that occurred last March, known as the “District Project Achievement”. The seventh through twelfth grade students (Conner Watson, Colin Watson, and Titus Matteson) had to complete a portfolio to showcase their year-long work and project area in addition to their leadership and community service activities. They also had to present a 10 to 12 minute speech on their project area. Watson placed second in Wildlife and Marine Sciences, while Matteson placed third in Housing Equipment and Environment.

STAR Student Dale Smith (left), C. Wallace (right).

The fourth through sixth graders (Sarahi Flores, Sheila Flores, Sky Paredes, and Sophia Scott) had to prepare and present a four to six minute speech with props in front of two judges. All four girls placed first in their category.

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations from the Fetch Your News team to all who received recognition during this meeting!

Berry College Math Competition Winners (one of two)

Berry College Math Competition (two of two)

4-H District Project Achievement Award Winners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pickens County Board of Education Meeting for Thursday, March 14, 2019

Education, News

JASPER, Ga.- The Pickens County Board of Education held a board meeting on Thursday, March 14, 2019, to discuss Superintendent Reports as well as Action Items.

Katherine White, Steve Smith, and Tony Young of the Pickens BoE.

Chief Financial Officer Amy Smith was the first to discuss the financial update, citing that the FY19 (Fiscal Year 2019) General Fund revenue collected through February 2019 was 71.06 percent and expenditures were 55.38 percent of the approved budget.

SPLOST (Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax) revenue for February 2019 was $433,261.41, and interest earned was $3,250.07.

Expenditures totaled $104,850.46 and the month-end SPLOST balance was $8,891,669.06.

The school system, Smith went on, is reported to have no debt at this time.

Assistant Superintendent Tony Young then delivered the report on the condition of attendance and dropout statistics for the month of February 2019. Cory Thompson of Jasper Middle School has the highest monthly average daily attendance at 95.27 percent, according to Young. One student was withdrawn this month, bringing the total this year to 11 dropped students.

Young went on to deliver the details on the state of the school system’s transportation and maintenance departments. The Board is currently in preparation for the Bus ”Roadeo”, which will occur on Saturday, April 13, 2019. There are two drivers finishing training from the last class and the next class for bus training will begin on Monday, April 22, 2019. Mechanics Nathan Hamby and Joel Collis will be competing on Friday, March 29, 2019, at

Dr. Carlton Wilson, Tucker Green, Phil Landrum III, Sue Finley, and Joeta Youngblood of the Pickens BoE.

RESA (Regional Educational Service Agency) for the Technician district competition and a chance to compete in June 2019 for the state competition. There is also extensive Versa Trans Training taking place at this time. As far as Maintenance goes, the Board has been busy preparing for their Department of Education Facilities Review team visit, but everything is reported as going well with maintenance at this point in time.

The National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) challenge that took place last week, sponsored by the Atlanta Community Food Bank, was reported to have been a huge success among the schools. It was a week of entertainment, prizes, and breakfast foods that are popular among the students.

Food Services for the school system have been doing well lately in general. Monday, a record number of students were served breakfast, 1,372 total. Tuesday through Thursday of the same week, that number was improved upon to increase the total number of students served. On Friday, there were a total of 1,706. The district witnessed a 46.3 percent increase, with an average of approximately 500 more meals a day than the previous week. Tate Elementary came in with the highest Average Daily Participation percentage at 61 percent for the week. Pickens Junior High witnessed the greatest increase in breakfasts served, as they served an additional 165 more student breakfasts per day than the previous week, thus winning them $1,000 from the Atlanta Community Food Bank Breakfast Challenge.

Upon request of Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson, approval of all four Personnel Action Reports passed without further discussion or opposition. These reports are recommendations by the administration to employ the individuals listed in each report, with such employment being contingent upon release from any previously signed contract and a successful background check. Employment is temporary until said contingencies are met. The reports may be viewed in full here: Personnel Action Report Number OnePersonnel Action Report Number TwoPersonnel Action Report Number Three, and Personnel Action Report Number Four.

Dr. Wilson went on to recommend the approval of School Bus purchases by The Operations & Transportation Departments for the FY20 school year. The order is for a total of five 72-Passenger Buses, with a unit cost of $98,881.00 and total cost of $494,405.00, as well as one 48-Passenger Bus with Wheelchair Lift at a cost of $108,556.00. The total $602,961.00 is based on state contract, and SPLOST funds are said to cover the expenses. This move will also see to it that each route bus will be air conditioned. This recommendation was approved without further discussion or opposition.

The Five-Year Local Facilities Plan passed without further discussion or opposition as well. This plan is a requirement by the Department of Education Facilities Unit to show the district’s need when it comes to facilities. This new plan displays a total $10,408,162 of eligible needs for earning State Entitlement funding. There was also a total $12,917,312 of documented needs that were considered ineligible costs for entitlement earnings, and which were decided to be a local district responsibility. A Georgia Department of Education Facilities Survey Team consisting of area facilities administrators made a visit to the district on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, and thus the plan was evaluated and validated at that time.

The board also approved the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) of $3,999,458.00 from Carroll Daniel Construction for the purpose of Phase One of the Pickens Junior High renovation project. The school system earned $802,138.00 of entitlement from the State Department of Education for the project. Pickens County School System is responsible for $3,197,320.00 that is to come from SPLOST funding, which will be a savings from the original price of $454,800.00.

In the last order of business for the Action Items during the meeting, Chairman of the Board Tucker Green was elected as Voting Delegate for the 2019 GSBA (Georgia School Board Association) Summer Conference & Delegate Assembly in Savannah, GA, with Chairman of the Board Steve Smith elected as an Alternate.

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Student and Community Recognition Awards for Pickens County BoE

Dragon's Corner, Education

JASPER, Ga.- The Pickens County Board of Education met on Thursday, March 14, 2019, for their regular board meeting. During the first half of the meeting, several individuals were presented with awards on behalf of Pickens Middle School and Pickens High School.

Pictured left to right, Ellie Hollis, Eva Stanley, Grayson Ludington, and Addison Lewis of Pickens Middle School.

 

The first was an award for the Science Fair. On Saturday, February 2,  2019, four Jasper Middle School students, all in the sixth grade, competed in the Regional Georgia Science and Engineering Fair (GSEF) against sixth to 12th graders. These students, pictured left to right, are Ellie Hollis for placing third in Plant Science, Eva Stanley for placing third in Chemical Energy, Grayson Ludington for placing second in Behavioral and Social Sciences, and Addison Lewis for placing fourth in Earth and Environmental Science.

 

 

 

Pictured left to right, Micah Newton and Ellison Steinhauer of Pickens Middle School.

The second award was for the Social Studies Fair. On Saturday, January 12, 2019, two Jasper Middle School students, both in the fifth grade, competed at the North West Georgia Regional Social Studies Fair in Kennesaw, Georgia. These students, pictured left to right, are Micah Newton for his project on the Dangers of Vaping and Ellison Steinhauer for her project on the Vietnam War Draft.

 

 

 

 

Pictured left to right, Gracie Thompson, Eva Stanley, Emily Coley, Grayson Ludington, and Micah Newton of Pickens Middle S

The third award was presented for the Helen Ruffin Reading Quiz Bowl Competiton in which Jasper Middle School fifth and sixth graders took third place against regional middle schools with sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. The fifth graders to receive this award were Ashlyn Zipse, Emily Caro, Micah Newton, and Gracie Thompson. The sixth graders to receive this award were Emily Coley, Isabel Johns, Grayson Ludington, Eva Stanley, Addy Wood, and Cody Caro. Pictured from left to right are Thompson, Stanley, Coley, Ludington, and Newton.

 

 

 

Dr. Robert Keller of Pickens High School.

 

 

The final award of the night, the “Dragon Nation Enduring Flame Award” was presented to Dr. Robert Keller for his outstanding contributions to Pickens High School.

 

Congratulations from Fetch Your News to all who received recognition during this Board of Education meeting!

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