Apple education development and account executives named Liberty County School System’s Galaxy Program an Apple Distinguished Program for 2013-14 Tuesday during the last school-board meeting of 2013.
Apple representatives told board of education members, educators, parents and students that LCSS is one of only 200 schools across the country to receive the recognition “You’re setting the pace for the entire state of Georgia,” said Gary Brose, Apple Inc. senior account executive.
The galaxy program was honored for its one-on-one classroom use of iPads to further student achievement in middle-school math and science, school officials said. To receive the designation, the district had to meet several criteria including innovation, leadership, educational excellence and demonstrate a clear vision of exemplary learning environments, according to Dr. Patti Crane, executive director of technology and media.
“iPads are allowing teachers to expand teaching outside of the classroom,” Crane said. “Teachers are challenging students to gather data outside and around the schools using iPads.”
“It is always thrilling to receive national recognition for our commitment to technology in the classroom, as the designation is a true reflection of the district’s commitment to ensuring our students are getting a 21st century education,” School Superintendant Dr. Valya Lee said.
In addition to the honor from Apple, a $25,000 scholarship award and various system level recognitions set a celebratory tone for the school board’s regular December meeting. The next board of education meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 14, 2014.
State Rep. Winfred Dukes, his mother Willie Beatrice Brown-Dukes, an Albany State University alumnus, and ASU Vice President for Institutional Advancement Clifford Porter Jr., presented the scholarship award. The trio announced that Dukes, Edwards and Dukes Inc. donated the $25,000 to help students from Liberty, Dougherty, Mitchell and Terrell counties with ASU tuition and campus-housing expenses.
The school board also applauded Frank Long Elementary School for receiving a $3,000 WeDo Lego Robotics grant.
Taylors Creek and Button Gwinnett Elementary Schools formally were recognized by the BoE for being named Reward Schools by the state. Taylors Creek made the highest-performing school list and Button Gwinnett Elementary School was named a highest-progress school.
Students Deziyah Harris, Heavenly Strickland and Mikala Brown were praised for being American Education Week picture and essay contest winners. Long-time school-board members Marcia Anderson, Becky Carter and Harold Woods received 15-year service pins from the Georgia School Boards Association. And Crane, amid hugs, was presented the school board’s extra-mile award for the month of December.
In other school-board business:
• School-board members approved a resolution to advocate for impact aid. Impact aid is federal money given to school districts near military installations, like Fort Stewart, to offset the loss of property taxes.
• The board approved out-of-state travel for school-board members Verdell Jones and Anderson, Lee and Jason Rogers, assistant superintendent for administrative services, to attend the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools conference March 16-18, 2014, in Washington D.C. The cost is $1,340 per person. The board also gave the Bradwell Institute Track Team permission to attend the Beach Run Invitational on April 4-5 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
• Seven residents nominated by school-board members agreed to serve on the board of education’s new citizens advisory committee. The committee will meet for the first time the week of Jan. 6. Committee members include Dorothy Cottom, Reginald Pierce, James Rogers, Willie Swint, Lana Walthour, Jack Waters and Josh Wheeler.
• Mary Alexander, assistant superintendent for student services, updated board members on continued efforts to help struggling students. Alexander reported each school keeps logs to monitor the progress of students at risk of failing. She also informed school board members about streamlining response to intervention procedures. RTI is a method used to prevent academic failure through early intervention and tracking students’ progress, along with additional interventions for students who continue to have difficulty learning.
• Dr. Debbie Rodriguez, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, briefed the board on school-improvement-plan meetings being held from mid-December through mid-January 2014.
• Board members approved creating five additional permanent substitute bus-driver positions at a cost of $64,665.61 or $12,933.12 per driver. John Lyles, assistant superintendent for operations, said hiring additional substitute drivers should improve on-time performance and student safety.
• The board approved a contract with P.C. Simonton and Associates to improve parking for the transportation compound at 100 Techwood Court. The work will help replace parking spaces lost to the Georgia Department of Transportation Highway 119 project. The $140,000 SPLOST funded project also will provide additional paved parking for buses and staff, and improve existing paved parking with seal-coating and stripling.
• Board members entered into a closed session to discuss personnel and property disposal. Earlier in the meeting, property at E.B. Cooper Highway was approved by the board for surplus. The board approved hiring a manager in training candidate, an in-school suspension paraprofessional and a bus driver. An art teacher, kindergarten teacher, nurse and paraprofessional resigned. One paraprofessional was terminated.