Administration addresses athletics at Board of Education meeting

Community, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – After hearing concerns expressed at the Jan. 11 Board of Education (BOE) meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney, as well as other members of the board, added a new agenda item covering extracurricular activities within the school system.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Rebels, Georgia High School Association, GHSA

Fannin County High School Principal Erik Cioffi discussed athletics at the Feeb. BOE meeting.

At the Feb. 8 BOE meeting the board unveiled this new item. Dr. Gwatney explained that updates of Fannin County extracirruclar activities will be a recurring item.

While these updates will encompass all of Fannin County’s extracurriculars, the focus of the Feb. updates centered around the state of the Fannin County Athletics Department.

Fannin County High School Principal Erik Cioffi presented this information to the public.

“There were some questions about accountability,” Cioffi spoke of concerns presented at the previous BOE meeting. “You don’t have to look any further than right here. I am the one who has hired people and put them in positions. So if there is a concern it should come to my department.”

Cioffi spoke of the staff of Fannin County School System and added that the pool of educators in which coaches can be pulled from is currently 59 certified teachers.

“They are teachers first and they have responsibilities that make up a bulk of their time,” Cioffi added.

Athletic Director Dr. Scott Ramsey clarified that there are 62 coaching positions that have to be covered, and for this reason coaches have to work or coach in multiple departments. Ramsey backed up Cioffi stating that a coach’s first priority is to be an educator.

“As they should be,” Ramsey stated. “Because that is the ultimate thing, they (students) leave with a high school diploma.”

Cioffi discussed the current Georgia High School Association (GHSA) policy and why Fannin County continues to be placed a AAA region school. In the past GHSA reevaluated schools on a two year cycle. Recent changes, however, has left evaluations happening every four years.

“We have no control over the region we’re placed,” Cioffi explained.

A meeting is scheduled on Feb. 21 where representatives from Fannin County Athletics along with representative from other AAA schools will meet with GHSA officials to examine the new policy.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Rebels, Georgia High School Association, GHSA

Athletic Director Dr. Scott Ramsey was also present to talk with parents.

“It’s ridiculous. If they (GHSA) get it wrong, that’s impacted a child’s entire four years,” Cioffi told the crowd about plans to hopefully bring about change on the state level when it comes to athletics.

The possibility of dropping to AA classification could pose a different set of difficulties for the student athletes of Fannin County, as travel is cited to be a large consideration in the possibility of changing regions.

A new AA classification could mean that students would have to travel as far as three hours away to play other AA teams.

Cioffi also proposed what all parties (parents, coaches and administration) want a “Winning Culture”, and explained how to take steps in this direction: “Before we even get to a winning culture, we need a positive culture. That’s going to take everyone in this room and everyone outside this room to get there.”

“Stay positive. Our kids see when there’s negativity going around,” Cioffi spoke of the recent discussions taking place via social media. “One thing I can promise you is that coaches aren’t posting things on social media about kids and parents.”

“Communicate with each other and figure out how can we best meet the needs of all the programs,” Cioffi went on,”Ultimately we want all programs to be successful.”

The parents coming forward was a big step in addressing the issues that Fannin County Athletics faces, and administration wants to keep lines of communication open and figure out how to “get over the hump and move forward.”

Athletic Director Dr. Scott Ramsey concluded the presentation: “We’re working together, because we don’t ever want to be an us versus you mentality. There never needs to be adversary. We all need to be working for the good of the kids.”

 

 

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Parents question the finances of Fannin County Athletics

News, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Feb. 8 Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) meeting was packed, with many left at standing room only, as parents and supporters of Fannin County Athletics gathered once again to voice concerns over the direction of the program.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

The Board of Education listens as public commentary focuses on athletics.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney addressed the crowd before the meeting got underway saying, “Safety is always the top priority. With that in mind, ladies and gentlemen, we have received a maximum number that’s allowed in this room from the state fire marshal, and we must adhere to that number.”

School principals were present to help usher the crowd and school resource officers were stationed at all emergency exits.

“Our room is at capacity,” Gwatney continued. Gwatney announced that the BOE had set up accommodations in expectations of the large turnout. The meeting would be streaming online and alternate locations had been set up at the high school as an overflow where supporters could watch the live-stream.

Ten community members signed up prior to the meeting to ensure that their voices would be heard during public commentary.

Donnie Kendall, who spoke at the January BOE meeting, led the way again and spoke first during the public’s allotted time.

“The last four weeks the administration has not only been helpful, but they have also made theirselves available in hearing all of my concerns, ” Kendall began. “The problem is our administration is reactive instead of proactive.”

Kendall voiced that the same accountability that is placed on educators in the school system should also be placed on coaches, citing the boys basketball team finishing with just three wins and 21 losses.

In comparing this with an academic classroom where only three students were passing with 21 failing, Kendall stated that that educators job would come into question, and the likelihood of their position being renewed would be slim.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

Donnie Kendall addresses the board first during public commentary at the BOE meeting.

“If you choose coaching as career path, you will ultimately be judged by your wins and losses,” Kendall added.

A point of concern among many of the public commentators and mentioned first by Kendall is a need for the BOE to produce total financial transparency of the athletic departments. Kendall, like many others, would like to know what formulas are in place for the funding and who is responsible for the financial decisions.

Speaking of the numerous booster clubs throughout the different athletic departments, who are responsible for raising tens of thousands of dollars every year, Kendall stated, “What we can do and what we are prepared to do is refuse to support that program financially.”

Another commentator, Cliff Shirah spoke from experience on the financial transparency that is desired by parents. Shirah has been treasurer of the Dugout Club for four years.

In those four years, Shirah cited that approximately $192,000 had been raised by the community for this club and the money directly supports Fannin County Athletics.

“We want to know how programs are funded and from what budget, and what is the process or guidelines that those decisions are made?” Shirah questioned the BOE.

Shirah pointed out that the Dugout Club had spent $34,000 in field maintenance and asked, “Why are parents forced to pay for these facilities and field expenses?”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

Brian Johnson counters reasons given by administration about the state of Fannin County Athletics.

Brian Johnson, former president of the Basketball Booster Club, also touched on finances, stating the Tip Off Club had raised upwards of $200,000 in four years, and asked the board, “What will the school board’s actions be if financial support is taken away from these programs?”

Johnson also addressed what many parents felt were excuses being given by administration for the current state of Fannin County Athletics: “excuses have been given from, ‘we don’t have talent’ to ‘we’re rural and secluded’ to ‘other teams should be playing in higher classifications.'”

Johnson countered these arguments by stating, “What in your minds makes us more secluded than Union County, Murphy, North Carolina, Hayesville, Towns County, or Hiawassee, Georgia? We have struggled against these very schools that are as small or much, much smaller than we are.”

Ryan Walton, who also spoke alongside Donnie Kendall at the January BOE meeting, did not agree with the explanations that the administration has offered. “All I’ve heard is excuses on why we don’t compete. I haven’t heard any answers,” Walton said.

Walton added, “I will say that the coaches at Fannin County right now are doing a great job of teaching our kids that life is not fair and that the best person does not always get the job, but the athletic director and board are doing a terrible job by showing these kids that you can be terrible at your job and not get fired.”

Other parents were present giving testimonials on how success in athletics directly correlates with success in a child’s personal life and their academics. These parents expressed concern over what they saw as the coaches’ lack of involvement with or enthusiasm displayed for their athletes.

Ultimately, the parents and supporters united under a common theme of change. They wish to see a winning culture come back to Fannin County and want the full chain of command, from the BOE down to the coaches, to take responsibility for this turn around.

Follow FetchYourNews as we look into obtaining full financial transparency for the Fannin County Athletics Department.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Fannin County Board of Education restructures for 2018

Education, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) began 2018 by restructuring their board. This restructuring took place publicly at their Jan. 11 meeting.

An annual restructuring is in accordance with the BOE’s charter which states: “The Board of Education shall elect by majority vote at the first regular meeting of the calendar year a chairperson and vice-chairperson.”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Board of Education, Superintendent, Chairman, Vice Chairman, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, Heather Finely, Director of Instructional Technology, Budget, SPLOST

New Chairman of the Board of Education Lewis DeWeese.

The now former Chairman Bobby Bearden opened up the restructuring by saying, “Mr. Superintendent, I would like to recommend Mr. DeWeese as the chair.”
Bearden then made the motion for Lewis DeWeese to step in as chairman of the BOE, with board member Steve Stanley seconding the motion. The board voted unanimously for this change, with DeWeese refraining from voting.

Stanley then opened the floor to the selection of vice chairman, “Mr. Chairman, I would like to place a nomination for Mr. Chad Galloway.”

Stanley then made the motion for Chad Galloway to step in as vice chairman of the BOE, and fellow board member Terry Bramlett seconded this motion. Galloway abstained from voting, but was unanimously voted in by other members of the board.

The BOE discussed their meeting schedule and voted to keep the schedule the same for the 2018 calendar year.

“So for the public,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney explained, “this means that we will continue as is for this year, which is all regular meetings for the Fannin County Board of Education will be held on the second Thursday of each month.”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Board of Education, Superintendent, Chairman, Vice Chairman, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, Heather Finely, Director of Instructional Technology, Budget, SPLOST

New Vice Chairman of the Board of Education Chad Galloway.

Gwatney added, “Monthly work sessions will be held on the Tuesday prior to each regularly scheduled board meeting at 8 a.m., and these meetings will be held here at this office in Blue Ridge. All meetings are open to the public.”

The newly arranged board then got straight to business reviewing the latest financial report for the Fannin County School System. The report showed the latest information as of Nov. 30, 2017, these numbers account for 41.66 percent of the annual 2017-2018 budget.

“Local revenues are at 22 percent ($4,037,844.60) versus 20 percent for this time last year. Total revenues are at 30 percent ($10,021,377.90) versus 29 percent this time last year, and total expenditures are currently at 40 percent ($13,589,826.95) versus 41 percent this time last year,” Gwatney pointed out.

Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds collected for November 2017 totaled $466,740.32.

“This is a healthy financial report,” Gwatney concluded.

Heather Finely, director of Instructional Technology, was present at the board meeting to present the public with the highlights of how the Fannin County School System is staying up-to-date with the ever changing world of technology.

Finely stated that she and her team are currently working on a three-year plan on how to approach technology advancements and how these advancements would best be utilized in Fannin County schools.

A major focus of this three-year plan is the use of WiFi technology in education. In a student survey conducted at the schools, 84 percent of students reported to have working Internet at their home, and 76 percent felt that they could do homework that requires Internet access. Only 11 percent of the students who responded said that they have no way to complete homework that requires Internet access.

Fannin County School System has been working to aid the students without any Internet access. Currently, five buses used by the county to transport students are equipped with WiFi capabilities.

Internet access in the schools is improving as well. “The state provides us with 750 mbs of Internet service. We purchase an additional 250 from TDS,” Finely explained of the Internet speed.

There are currently 108 WiFi access points in instructional areas throughout the schools. Finely hopes to up the number of WiFi access points in the schools, citing that the schools having cinder block walls slows the connections in some areas.

Finely aims to have tablets for every student to be able to use while in school: “We are working towards a one-to-one with Chromebooks.”

There are 1,749 mobile tablets currently available for students and teachers to use while at school. Finely pointed out that the school would also like to offer tablets for students to be able to take home for use. A grant has been applied for that would help to reach this goal.

“Right now, students in AP (advanced placement) take one home to use,” Finely spoke of the current use of mobile tablets.

The Fannin County Board of Education will hold their next regular meeting on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.

Fannin County Schools recognized for their farm-to-school program

Community, Education

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County School System was recognized for outstanding achievement in its farm-to-school program.

FetchYourNews, Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Morganton, Mineral Bluff, McCaysville, Georgia, Fannin County Board of Education, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Candice Sission, Golden Radish, Georgia Organics

The Board of Education receives Golden Radish Award on behalf of all schools in our district.

Over 40 percent of school districts in Georgia participate in this program. Combined, these districts served more than 97 million school meals with local food items during the 2016-17 school year.

Georgia Organics founded the state’s first farm-to-school program in 2007. “It’s astounding that over 40 percent of our school districts are actively involved in The Golden Radish Awards after only four years of establishing the program,” Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls stated.

The farm-to-school program gives students an opportunity to learn the basics of gardening and helps support local economies through local food purchases for school meals.

Fannin County School Nutrition Director Candice Sisson was present to present the Board of Education with the Golden Radish Award received for our district.

The Fannin County School System was recognized at the Gold Level for their accomplishments during the 2016-17 school year. Some of the areas for which Fannin County was recognized include:

– Students incubated, hatched, raised chickens and harvested their eggs. The eggs are just one of the many locally produced items featured in taste tests;

-Every school in Fannin County has a school garden and two elementary schools have greenhouses; and

-Twenty farm-to-school standard-based lessons were taught throughout the school year, including Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) lessons on plant growth in the school garden.

Discussion among board members began about this type of curriculum having not always been taught in schools, except in specific agricultural classes or clubs.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney pointed out, “It was something that the children came to school knowing this. The way we (society) has changed through the years, it’s wonderful that school can respond to that need, and school can now provide these experiences for them to in turn take back home.”

Board Member Terry Bramlett agreed and added, “Not only does it increase their knowledge and appreciation of where food comes from, but agriculture remains the number one industry in the state of Georgia.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Fannin County Board of Education Hears Public Comments about Transgender Bathrooms in Fannin Schools

News

Vicki Rhodes of Morganton and Cathy Patterson of Mineral Bluff head to the Fannin Board of Education meeting.

 

Fannin County Board of Education held a three and one-half hour meeting on Thursday night, May 12th.  Two and a half hours were public comments about transgender bathrooms in Fannin County Schools.

Opponents of transgender bathrooms meet at First Baptist Church to prepare for Board of Education meeting

Opponents of transgender bathrooms meet at First Baptist Church to prepare for Board of Education meeting

It was standing-room only in the high school cafeteria.  Even more people were in the gymnasium.  Fannin Rebel TV, the high school television station, broadcast the meeting live to the people in the gym.  Around forty people gave comments about transgender bathrooms and people who do not fit traditional male/female gender identity. Except for attorney Ken Fletcher, everyone who spoke lives in Fannin county, has children in the school system or went through the school system themselves.  By the amount of people at the School Board meeting, Fannin County sent a loud and clear message to the School Board that they don’t want transgender bathrooms in Fannin schools. There were no counter-protesters outside the School Board meeting or along the walk from the First Baptist Church to the Fannin County High School cafeteria.

The meeting opened with an invocation from the Pastor of World Harvest Church North in McCaysville.  During his prayer, he thanked the Board for being here to serve God’s will first to students’ well-being, education and protection.  Bobby Bearden, Chair of the Fannin County School Board reminded the audience that the Board will take everything you say under serious consideration.  He also said that the Board is not here tonight to vote on anything about transgender bathrooms.

 

Comments from the Fannin County Community – Parents, Students and Graduates

The overwhelming theme of the forty plus people who gave comments was about privacy and safety of the children.  Many parents asked the Board why the schools couldn’t have a third bathroom option for transgender students.  At least two parents said that if the school allowed transgender children to use the bathroom of their choice, they will sue the school to build a private bathroom stall for their children. Parent after parent said that they would pull their children out of the Fannin County School system if the schools have transgender bathrooms.  Some parents scolded the Board for putting federal funding ahead of their children’s well-being. If the Fannin County School System chooses to not have transgender bathrooms, the school system could lose $3.5 million in federal funding.

Almost every speaker identified him or herself as a Christian.  Most talked about how the Bible teaches two genders, male and female.  Some parents, like Deena Daughtery, said that they had moved to Fannin County because of its morals.  Many speakers said that they couldn’t believe that the fight over transgender bathrooms had come to Fannin County.

The pastor of Sugar Creek Baptist Church expressed sympathy for the School Board because they were between a rock and hard place in having to make a choice about transgender bathrooms.

julia pruitt

Julia Pruitt

Four people spoke on behalf of Fannin community members who don’t fit traditional male/female gender identity.  Xavier Eaton, a graduate of Fannin County, is transgender.  He said about his time in school, “Everything I went through here was torment.  You don’t know what it is like to be hated.”  He asked the audience to teach children to co-exist with things they don’t believe in.  Julia Pruitt, a Fannin County resident and self-stated lesbian, said that she was listening to ignorance all around her at the meeting.  As a Christian, she believes that Jesus left her with one commandment, “Love thy neighbor.” She told the audience that this (a transgender student) is somebody’s baby that we are talking about.  A therapist practicing in Fannin County told the audience that she was there to let students know that there are other children in Fannin and surrounding counties who are transgender and there are support networks students can reach out to.  She encouraged Fannin students to resist fear-based messages.

Some high school and middle school students spoke.  They indicated that students were not ready to accept transgender bathrooms at school.  Two 8th grade girls had the shortest and most simple comment about transgender bathroom.  It summed up what many parents said without a long explanations. The girls said, “I don’t want to go to the bathroom and see a boy there.”

 

Anthony Walton’s Comments

Anthony Walden

Anthony Walden

Anthony Walton, organizer of Fannin community members who disapprove of transgender bathrooms, spoke for about 15 minutes.  He had several main points.

First, was that people cannot serve God and money.  The Fannin school system needs to make a choice to follow Christian ideas and not be concerned about losing $3.5 million. People are letting the federal government control us with money.  He said that from teaching evolution to acceptance of transgender bathrooms, the US education agenda is immoral and it is time to say “enough!”.

Second, he see transgendered bathrooms as a slippery slope to allowing perversion in school.  He said that if we accept that transgender people are hard-wired to be different, then how do we know that schools won’t see pedophiles as people who are just hard-wired to be different.  Eventually the schools could end up hiring pedophiles to teach our children and there could be perverts in the bathrooms with our daughters and wives.  He gave several examples of how students participating in activities normally reserved for the opposite gender could upset school life.  He said these kind of situations make confusion for students.  What if male athletes play on female teams; what would this do to the playoffs?

He finished up his remarks by promising the School Board that your neighbors and friends in this room will stand with you until the bitter end.

 

Alliance Defending Freedom’s comments

Attorney Ken Fletcher

Attorney Ken Fletcher

Attorney Ken Fletcher, an attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom (see website) was there.  His organization is offering to assist the Fannin County School Board with developing a bathroom policy.  His idea is to have a private school clinic or faculty  bathroom that is open for transgender students.  He told the audience that people who have gender dysphoria live a life of heartache and that there is a 20% suicide rate among transgender people. Mr. Fletcher believes that forcing transgender bathrooms on people is an example of government overreach and transgender bathrooms are another example of President Obama’s executive actions that are forcing unacceptable moral changes in public schools.

 

County Attorney Lynn Doss’ Comments

Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss

Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss

Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss spoke for the Board of Education.  She first cleared up some rumors that have been going around.  She said that Fannin County schools do not have unisex bathrooms and that the School Board is not voting on transgender bathrooms.  Also, non one in the Fannin County school system has had their job threatened over this issue. About the $3.5 million the school system could lose if it provides transgender bathrooms, she said that Fannin County can do without the $3.5 million.  The real money problem is that the school system could be fined $1,000 a day for not providing bathroom. The school system could not take that financial loss.  Like Mr. Fletcher, she said that requiring transgender bathrooms in public schools is another example of government overreach.

Ms. Doss went on to tell the audience that if they really don’t want transgender bathrooms in the schools, they should take their fight to people who have the possibility to change this rule.   The Fannin County School System could refuse to provide transgender bathrooms, but the school system’s action has no power to change the law.  Ms. Doss encouraged everyone to write Gov. Deal and their state and national Senators and Representatives.  She thanked Georgia House Speaker David Ralston for taking a proactive stand for Fannin County.

 

Superintendent Mark Henson’s Comments

Fannin County School Superintendent Mark Henson

Fannin County School Superintendent Mark Henson

At 8:30, two and one-half hours after public comments began, the Board was ready to move into new business.  First, everyone took a 15 minute break.  Then the School Board sat back down to do what it usually does at monthly School Board meetings: listen to and approve purchase requests, go over budget and hear about school programs. (read about the other topics on the School Board May meeting here)

At the end of the School Board meeting, around 9:10, Superintendent Henson gave his remarks about the meeting.  He always sums up School Board meetings and talks about plans for the schools in his end-of-meetings comments.

Mr. Henson promised that everyone employed in the school system, from general staff to teachers to district administrators to the School Board, does everything in their power to keep students safe.  He promises that the School Board will do its best to find a workable solution over the summer.

He talked about the everyday problems that the controversy over transgender bathrooms is bringing to Fannin schools. He said, “If we let this tear us down, then it will.”  He talked about how the school system has so much going for it.  For example, this year’s test scores are in the 11% highest group in Georgia.  Fannin county schools have so much to look forward to said Mr. Henson.  Then, he  announced that the school system is purchasing the Farmer’s Market space next to Swan Drive-In for $350,000 and will build a state-of-the-art agriculture center, something Fannin’s agriculture programs have desperately needed for a long time.

Mr. Henson talked about the disruption this controversy is causing at one of the most critical times in the school year.  “We are only six days from the end of the school year… Everyone needs to calm down and back up.”

I will resign before I let this school system fall apart. – Mark Henson

Then, Mr. Henson said what he personally will do about the situation; “I will resign before I let this school system fall apart.”  This is an especially strong statement from Mr. Henson because he is a graduate of Fannin County schools, his father was high school principal here, his wife works at the school and his children attend Fannin County schools.

Mr. Henson’s comments also covered rumors floating around that Fannin County employees’ jobs are being threatened and the School Board has held secret meetings  to make decisions about transgender bathrooms.

He said absolutely no one’s job has been threatened.  In fact, several school system employees spoke at the meeting about why they don’t want transgender bathrooms.  Mr. Henson then asked the pastor of Sugar Creek Baptist Church if he felt his job with the school system was threatened because he spoke against the School Board and transgender bathrooms.  The pastor said, “Absolutely not.”  In fact, Anthony Walden, the organizer of the protest against transgender bathrooms, works closely with the school system.  He is a School Resource Officer at Fannin County Middle School.

Mr. Henson said that there had been no secret meetings of the School Board about transgender bathrooms.  Mr. Henson, the Fannin County School Board and school system employees pride themselves in how they run a very transparent school system.  Everyone they can read all documents, meeting minutes, school information and school system budget on Fannin’s School Board website. (click here to view the website) . The School Board did go into Executive Session at their workshop meeting on Tuesday.  But, it was to discuss land acquisition (the purchase of the Farmer’s Market) and personnel issues.  April and May is the time when school systems do most of their hiring.

Mr. Henson closed out his comments with thanking all the District Office employees who came out to support the School Board and the school system.

 

School Board Members’ Comments

Finally, it was time for the last item on the agenda, School Board members’ comments about the meeting.

Steve Stanley promised Mr. Henson that “the cavalry  (the School Board) it going to stay right where it is at.”  Mr. Stanley is proud of the new agriculture facility coming to the school system.  He has worked closely with Future Farmers of America and seen how desperately the students need it.

Lewis DeWeese said he wished people knew about the caliber of people we have here.  “We are proud of our team.  All are top-notch God-fearing people who care about children.”

Terry Bramlett said that the people at the meeting tonight should share the same level of passion with representatives in Washington.  He encouraged everyone to write to state and national officials whose duty it is to make legislation about transgender bathrooms.  He shares Mr. Henson’s and Mr. Stanley’s enthusiasm about the new Agriculture Center and reminded the audience that agriculture remains the largest industry in Georgia.

Sandra Mercier said that when she thinks about this controversy, she looks to her personal inspirational statement which she has engraved on her bracelet:  “God grant me the serenity to change what I can, accept what I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.”

School Board Chair Bobby Bearden said that he was the Board member that told people he was “in it to the end.”  Mr. Bearden was referring to two commenters’ statements that they would call out the Board member who promised to take it to the end if the School Board member doesn’t do what Fannin residents feel about transgender bathrooms.

The School Board meeting ended at 9:30.

 

See related posts:

 “Transgender Bathrooms in Fannin County Schools”

“Fannin Board of Education Workshop:  Middle School Principal, Lunch Prices, Buses, Rain Barrels and Bathrooms”

“Fannin County Board of Education Changes Meeting Location to Accommodate Expected Protesters”

“Fannin Board of Education: Superintendent Henson Will Follow US Law Regarding Transgender Bathrooms”

 

See Related Videos:

Public Comments at Fannin BOE Meeting

Fannin Board of Education:  Superintended Henson Will Follow US Law Regarding Transgender Bathrooms.

March to Fannin County Board of Education

Ken Fletcher of Alliance Defending Freedom Speaks at Fannin County Board of Education

 

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BOE Chair Changes

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The Fannin County Board of Education kicked off 2014 with some good news for those interested in the county’s education goals and progress. (more…)

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MG

Fannin to Apply for FM Radio Station

Featured Stories, News

The Fannin County Board of Education was presented the opportunity to apply for a low power FM radio license. Dr. Michael Gwatney and Scott Barnstead presented the offer before the Board of Education prior to applying. (more…)

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MG

Fannin Cuts No-Cut Rule

Featured Stories, News

The Fannin County Board of Education this week voted to eliminate a no-cut-cut rule for school sports. (more…)

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