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Schools' app will keep students, parents informed
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Liberty County Board of Education members were introduced Tuesday to the school system’s newly designed free app and taught a lesson in using social media. The Liberty County School System app will debut May 1, school officials said.
LCSS Executive Director of Technology Dr. Patti Crane said the app will be available to the public on iTunes next month. Crane and her department set up the system’s Facebook and Twitter pages last August. Crane credited instructional-technology specialist Melissa Roberts with creating the app. Roberts received the district’s Extra Mile Award for April.
“It’s a good way to promote our system,” Crane said. “There are only eight counties in Georgia that are using this app.”
The app will link to Twitter and the LCSS website, she said. Users can receive notifications, such as testing dates and when report cards are sent home. The app also will provide links to LCSS website content, such as district departments, school faculty members and the system calendar. Parents who use the app also can access their children’s grades, Crane said.
“Once you get in and play with it, you will see it is very user-friendly,” she told school-board members.
The system already uses iTunes University to make podcast lessons covering numerous subjects available to teachers and students, according to Crane. She said there currently are 308 apps in the system database that have been vetted for teachers.
“We’re really excited about where it can go,” Crane said, adding that digital resources can be modified or changed. “But we have to give our teachers the tools and provide them professional training.”
Crane also offered the BoE a short lesson in how to use Twitter. She advised board members to remember that when they tweet, they are communicating as individual board members.
“It’s a great way to connect with people,” Crane said. She said many BoE members’ constituents are on Facebook, and she suggested school-board members connect to their counterparts in other districts via the professional network LinkedIn. The system’s technology and media-services department monitors the district’s Twitter account to ensure nothing inappropriate is tweeted, Crane said.
The technology department executive director said an estimated 60 percent of Americans use some form of social media.
Rogers briefed school-board members on a draft capital-projects budget. The existing fiscal year 2014 fund balance for capital projects is $12.4 million. Rogers projected a $9.7 beginning capital projects fund balance for FY 2015, and estimates an ending balance of $7.8 for FY 2015. He promised he would present the board a comprehensive review “of current and proposed capital projects” at the BoE’s April 22 work session.
During the business portion of the meeting, the school board approved Lee’s recommendation for LCSS to operate as a charter system.
The BoE was tasked with choosing a school-model option — either the charter system or the Investing in Educational Excellence — in order to comply with the Flexibility and Accountability Act for Student Achievement. Lee did not recommend the BoE consider the status quo option, which would keep the district’s school model unchanged.
Georgia school systems must choose a model by June 30, 2015, Lee told the board last month.
BoE Chairwoman Lily Baker said the district offered the public ample notice of the coming change.
“We’re all clear on what we’re voting on,” Baker said.
Jason Rogers, assistant superintendent for administrative services, said Lee presented the school-flexibility options in detail to the board. Rogers said the district informed principals and stakeholders about the options, asked teachers to view a video explaining the different school models, and posted an online poll to the system website. According to the online poll, 49.87 percent voted for the IE2 system and 50.12 percent voted for the charter system.
The school board also approved a class-size waiver resolution for the 2014-15 school year. Mary Alexander, assistant superintendent for student services, said the resolution allows the system to keep the same class-size maximums it uses this year.
In a closed session, the BoE approved numerous personnel actions.
Four central-office positions were filled. Susan Avant was hired as executive director for teaching and learning; Thomas Chad McCaskill is the new director for transportation; Jennifer Walts was hired as coordinator for evaluation, assessment and accountability; and Edyth Ziegler is the supervisor for professional learning.
In addition, a Spanish teacher, an English teacher, a special-education teacher and a math teacher were hired.
The board also approved 35 resignations, 30 of which were teachers.
Eleven special-education teachers resigned, as did four math teachers, three fourth-grade teachers, two kindergarten teachers, and two first-grade teachers. One each of the following teachers also resigned: second grade, third grade, non-specified, English, art, music, science and social studies.
Two counselors, a computer operator, a media specialist and a school nutrition manager also resigned.
Last school year, 2012-13, the school district had a total of 113 resignations, 24 retirements and two deaths among both certified and classified employees.

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