New band instruments for the high schools are on their way. Some $500,000 worth.
The issue of what were called "much-needed" band instruments for the high schools, especially Bradwell, was brought up at the Liberty County Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday by a member of the Bradwell Band Booster Club.
Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee said the school board will receive a recommendation list of new instruments to buy for the high schools at its Sept. 27 work session.
Kelley Prince, of the Band Booster Club, addressed the board during the audience participation segment of the meeting.
"You stated an instrument survey of the county needed to take place in order for the funds to be approved for the instruments. Mr. Fermin did an instrument survey last year as requested by the board. Funds for instruments were approved last year at the conclusion of marching band season. Parents were told by Jason Rogers in June of this year that new instruments were going to be approved in July. Our students are using instruments that are being held together by duct tape that are over 30 years old," Prince said. "Our competition season starts on Sept. 24. You are asking that the survey doesn’t take place until Sept. 27."
She also said that because they are short on instruments they will have to borrow instruments from Richmond Hill High School and Effingham County High School if possible, since those schools also
Lee responded to Prince.
"The survey was done last spring at my request. I have not had any conversation with Mr. Fermin about the instruments; this was me talking to some of the band boosters and them saying, ‘You’ve helped us with our uniforms, you and the board. You’ve helped us raise money. Now we need instruments,’" Lee said. "That’s why it was one of the priorities on our ESPLOST. Even before then, I did ask Jason Rogers to administer the survey and the direction was for him to identify those instruments in good repair, those that could possibly be used at middle schools and to do an inventory."
Lee said she decided to order an inventory of the band instruments at Liberty County High School because they will be able to get a better deal on instruments for both schools if they are purchased at the same time. She said they are making certain that the list of instruments the district has matches BI’s new band director’s list.
"So what will come before the board on Sept. 27 isn’t a survey—it will be a recommendation. It will be a complete list of instruments for both high schools so the board can understand why we are asking for what we are asking," Lee said. "They’re coming. We are working fast and furiously to get what you need."
Marie Lehigh, interim director of student nutrition, gave an update for August.
Student enrollment in school nutrition has increased from 9,806 participants to 10,021. Since school started 303,724 meals have been served, also an increase from 2015-2016.
Lehigh reported that 5,972 students are on free lunch, 1,174 on reduced lunch and 2,875 are paid lunch. Seventy-one percent of students receive free or reduced lunch.
Lehigh said more home cooking has been added to the menu this school year.
"We added fresh chicken and fresh ground beef. We went back to spaghetti with meat sauce instead of spaghetti with meatballs," she said. "We added chicken pot pie and all of this was done with input of our managers."
She said the managers worked together to do the August and September menus and will meet again this month to come up with the menu for the rest of 2016. Lehigh then recognized the school nutrition personnel in attendance and thanked them for their work.
Dr. Lee gave an update on the district’s goals of increasing student learning and achievement, providing a safe and supporting learning environment, increasing stakeholder involvement and effectiveness of district operations and administrative services.
Since the first day of school, students read 18,536 books through the myOn reader program.
The Classroom Without Walls initiative to provide internet access via hotspots on parked buses around the county has started. Lee said students immediately started to use a hotspot when the first bus was parked.
Teachers are engaging in personalized learning environments.
"A lot of flexible learning environments are surprising parents and people but all the research speaks to the fact that if students are comfortable in their environment they will learn a lot better," Lee said. "The key word is ‘flexible’ so from time to time you’ll see a classroom where kids are stretched out on the floor with pillows or it may look like when you and I were in school."
School counselors gave input in the system’s mental health manual and the district will work with mental health agencies in the community, Lee said.
The school system now has its own app site, LANREV, the only way students can download apps onto school iPads. Lee said the Apple app store was disabled so students will not be able to download apps their parents don’t want them to use.
The district is finalizing its emergency preparedness plans. Lee said Tropical Storm Hermine proved it was important to have a plan in place.
Alexander Waite, who graduated this summer from Bradwell, received his high-school diploma and his associate’s degree in applied sciences from Savannah Technical College at the same time. Waite earned his degree through the Move On When Ready Program, a dual enrollment program for students. He took classes during the school day, evenings and summer breaks. County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette, who also is chairman for the local board of directors at Savannah Tech, recognized Waite as the first person to simultaneously earn a high-school diploma and college degree in the county.
BOE Chairwoman Lily Baker said the board was extremely proud.
"You are the perfect example of what we call a high-achiever, a great motivator. We ask that you continue that as you move on in the world and we’re so glad that we as a Liberty County school district have offered you this opportunity to move on when you were ready, because evidently you were ready," Baker said.