BoE Approves West Fannin Elementary Paving Project

Board of Education, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education approved a West Fannin Elementary School paving project during their called meeting on Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

West Fannin Elementary Paving Project. (Click to enlarge)

There was only one bid for this project which came from local vendor Johnson Paving, LLC. in the amount of $197,383.00 for the replacement 10,650 square yards of overlay and 4,314 square yards of mill and replace. The plan does include striping.

The board discussed how these repairs have been much needed for quite some time now, and none of the board members were opposed.

The project is said to be paid for with special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) funding.

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Fannin County Schools Registration and Open House Schedule 2019-2020

Board of Education, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education released their 2019-2020 Registration and Open House schedule during their meeting held on Thursday, July 11, 2019.

New Student Registration day is scheduled for Tuesday, July 12, 2019 from 8 am until 4 pm.
Currently enrolled students, as well as other new students, including upcoming Kindergartners, who have already registered for SY 19-20 do not need to attend.

Open House at Elementary Schools and Middle School will be on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 from 1 pm until 5 pm.

Fannin High Schools Open House for 9th grade students will be on Monday, August 5, 2019 from 5 pm until 7 pm.

Open House for Upperclassmen students will be on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 from 1 pm until 5 pm.

Any Fannin County High School student needing a parking permit needs to be at the PAC by 2 pm on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

The first day of school is Wednesday, August 7, 2019.

If you are planning to enroll your child in any Fannin County School for the 2019-2020 school year, the following documentation is needed:
Birth certificate, Current Immunization Record (Must be on a Georgia form), Eye/ear/dental examination record, Proof of custody (as noted in a divorce decree), Georgia Department of Public Health Form 3300, Social security card, and proof of residency (two documents, i.e., utility bill, paperwork, etc. verifying your 911 address; P.O. boxes are not proof of residency).

Also helpful in making your child’s transition smooth are copies of your child’s last report card and the withdrawal from the previous school.

To enroll a child in school, you must be the parent or legal guardian of the child.

For bus information, please call 706-632-7802.

Blue Ridge Elementary – 224 East Highland Street, Blue Ridge, GA 30513. 706-632-5772

East Fannin Elementary – 1 Elementary Circle, Morganton, GA 30560. 706-374-6418

West Fannin Elementary – 5060 Blue Ridge Drive, Blue Ridge, GA 30513. 706-492-3644

Fannin Middle School – 4560 Old Highway 76, Blue Ridge, GA 30513. 706-632-6100

Fannin High School – 360 Rebel Circle, Blue Ridge, GA 30513. 706-632-2081

www.fannin.k12.ga.us

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New Football Stadium Lights Benefit Players and Students

Education
Football Stadium

Blue Ridge, Ga – 2019 football season will begin with new LED lights shining on the field, and the system will give students a chance to create a unique light show.

38 football stadium lights have burnt out, and many need new ballasts or entirely new fixtures to properly work.
Four bids came in, and the lowest bid from Over and Under General Contractors was for $242,490.00.
Previously, Phillips estimated around $400,000 to $500,000 for updating the lights before the project went out to bid.

LED stands for light emitting diode and produced 90% more light than incandescent bulbs.

Danner explained, “The old light fixtures, the old cages will be coming down. New fixtures will be going up. It won’t be 88 fixtures anymore because LEDs are brighter, so it will be fewer fixtures, guaranteed for 10 years. Anything goes wrong, they come out and take care of it.”

football stadium lights

The red blocks showcase all the football stadium lights that no longer work on the field.

The new lights will be installed before the 2019 football season.

“I think it’s pretty good that the lights that were there lasted as long as they did because it was a month ago, we changed out the speakers, and all that and they were totally gone,” stated Board Member Bobby Bearden.
“Would this control module allow some of our technology student to manipulate the lighting system?” asked Board Member Terry Bramlett.

Yes, the system comes with three pre-programmed settings. Once training’s complete, the school and students can create unique light shows.

SPLOST covers the new football stadium lights.

New Pick-Up Lane at East Fannin

East Fannin Elementary School requested to widen the parent pick-up lane because the two to one lane environment caused extra congestion.

“It’s a high priority for Mr. Bryce and East Fannin Administration,” “it causes great concern, and we only received one quote back for $25,500.00 for 575 feet to widen it. It will be a dual lane from Old 76 all the way up to the bus line.”

Bryce added that they rearranged the pick-up for safety reasons as well. In the past, The school used two different parent drop-offs, and it caused congestion.

“Where it bottlenecked, they were starting to go out on the gravel and create potholes, so two lanes all the way around will be even safer,” stated Bryce.

New Security Cameras at West Fannin

Next West Fannin Elementary School requested security cameras to be paid for by a security grant from the Department of Education. The project cleared DOE requirements but needed Board of Education approval.

“What we have now, you can’t even zoom. With this, you’ll be able to tell what color shirt they have on, but you might not see facial expressions,” explained Danner.

New cameras will let the administration see 425 feet in the distance.

The cameras provide visibility up to 425 feet and the same system as the high school. The connected system allows the administration to view both schools’ security cameras on one screen.

“I think it’s a good use of the state’s safety grant money,” advised Superintendent Michael Gwatney.

Propane Bids

Propane bids for the district came in, and one provided a lower price than what the school currently spends on the gas. UPG/ Fort Mountain Propane received approval to supply the district for the next school year.

Construction Updates

The turning lane and new entrance for the agricultural center are open and ready for use.

Blue Ridge Elementary received a new metal door for security purposes.

East Fannin painted the dug-outs on the lower field and rusted handrails. The school removed a derelict trailer as well. East Fannin Middle school’s building a new administrative office for the bookkeeper. Additionally, an ADA-regulated walkway extends down to the playground. These walkways can only drop one inch per foot.
Fannin County High School pressured washed the sidewalks and painted as well as sandblasted the rusted stairs.

Local SPLOST taxes paid for the majority of the updates.

FYI Teaches Students Professional Development

Education
FYI Students

Blue Ridge, Ga – Fannin Youth Initiative (FYI) successfully taught Fannin County High School students about professional development and job opportunities available to them.

Executive Director of the Fannin County Development Authority Christie Gribble spoke about the first year of FYI to the board and the impact it made on students.

Leadership Fannin served as a template for the program, except tailored to high school students. It demonstrated the opportunities in the county for jobs and helped students to learn soft skills, such as letter writing, communication, resumes, and interviewing.

“Education and having a relationship with the school is very important,” said Gribble when speaking about her role as executive director of the development authority.

The students spent five days out in the community learning from small business owners, social services, government roles, and the arts. The program included trips to the Chamber of Commerce, courthouse, and the state capitol.

Fannin Youth Initiative

Fannin Youth Initiative (FYI) visited the capitol and met with Speaker Ralston.

Gribble and her fellow workers held 10 in-school sessions during FLEX to teach high schoolers about professional development skills.

Ten students from 10th and 11th grade participated in the program. Mrs. Lynn Birch acted as the faculty advisor and made sure everyone was where they needed to be.

The participants were given a mentor, took a career assessment, and voiced opinions about young people needing a place to hang out.

“When the kids talk about a place to hang out, what’s their definition of that?” asked Board Member Mike Cole.

The answer: It varies from student to student, some wanted a diner, and others said games, in general just something different than cruising The Home Depot or Wal-Mart parking lot.

The students received internships, contacts, and contract work. The Development Authority hired an intern, and a videographer student started working for a business in the county.

FYI is also a finalist in a state CTA program and will know by July if it won first, second, or third place.

“Opportunity and preparation come together, then that’s when you have success. I’m really pleased to hear the success of these students,” stated Superintendent Michael Gwatney.

Board Chair Lewis DeWeese said, “If they learned as much about the community as they do at other Chamber events, that’s tremendous.”

2019 GSBA Exemplary Board Status Awarded to Fannin Schools

Education

Blue Ridge, Ga – The Fannin County Board of Education receives with the Georgia School Boards Association’s (GSBA) 2019 Exemplary School Board award.

The recognition program showcases best practices in school governance and leadership. GSBA recognizes good school board governance to foster educational community cultures in order to advance student learning and achievement.

“I want to first thank you for all the training we had and the retreat. It is my honor to present to you the exemplary board trophy for this year. This is two years in a row,” said Assistant Superintendent Robert Ensley during the Board of Education meeting.

Exemplary Board

GSBA awarded 55 public schools with the status.

The Fannin County Board of Education met and/or exceeded the criteria set forth by GSBA to earn the honor of a 2019 Exemplary Board. The criteria’s listed on GSBA’s website and covers eight areas, including strategic planning, fiscal responsibility, and ethics. In 2019, only 55 of the 180 public school boards earned the Exemplary Board status.

The GSBA Governance Team Recognition Program was developed by Georgia superintendents and board members based on the state board of education’s standards for effective governance to recognize exemplary leadership.

In 1998, the Georgia School Boards Association was one of the first school board associations in the nation to develop a program of standards for local boards of education. The GSBA Board recognition program is a three-tiered program.

For more information on the program, you may visit the GSBA website for awards and recognition to view the criteria for all tiers of the program.

Superintendent Gwatney Contract Renewed

Education
Board and Superintendent Gwatney

Blue Ridge, Ga – Board of Education approved a new contract for Superintendent Michael Gwatney during June meeting.

Board of Education Chairman Lewis DeWeese commended Gwatney on his work, “The board has been pleased with the Dr. Michael Gwatney’s work as our Superintendent and based on the results of his evaluation and his performance this year, the board approves an additional year for a three year contract to begin July 1, 2019.”

During Superintendent Comments, Gwatney remarked on the honor to serve Fannin School District and the extraordinary work everyone in the county and education system does for the students.

Dr. Michael Gwatney

Gwatney’s new term begins on July 1.

“I’m privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of this system and serve for so many years,” observed Gwatney, “My time here has been an enjoyable experience, and like everything that is truly important in life, it’s the people who make it that way. So I want to thank my colleagues, the directors that are here, the staff that are here, and the principals that are here. Thank you for everything that you do for our kids.”

Gwatney introduced the three new department leaders to the board, starting with Director of Transportation, Denver Foster. He worked for the transportation department for 14 years under Ben Long.

“I feel like we have an exceptional department. We have 40 main route buses, transport about 1,250 children a day and our main focus is always student safety, said Foster, “I have a vision for our department. I have quite a few things I want to do, including upgrading technology – routing software and some other things to make that safer.”

Foster also brought the winners of the May 15 School Bus Road-e-o, where bus drivers participate in a skills course that includes parallel parking. The three winners were:

School bus Road-e-o participants took part in several activities to demonstrate skill operating the vehicle.

  • Tim Massaro, First Place
  • Tim Joiner, Second Place
  • Jeff Johnstone, Third Place

Massaro also participated in the state school bus road-e-o and placed 20th out of 61.

Next, Gwatney introduced the Director of Instructional Services and Policy Sarah Welch. She’s the daughter of two educators and a graduate of Fannin County with 16 years of experience.

“I’m honored to be in this position,” said Welch, “I’ll be working a lot with our curriculum and professional learning. My vision is ensuring equity for all learners. We know that everyone comes in they start school in different places. We want everybody to be able to access the curriculum to meet their needs and no matter where you start to be able to push you forward.”

She cited depth, progression, and exploration as needed areas to develop for children to grow as learners. The school’s responsibility doesn’t stop when the children leave. It continues after hours and in the community, giving teachers and students the materials necessary to cultivate learning opportunities.

When Welch finished, DeWeese stated, “Contagious enthusiasm, if you pass that to your students, I don’t think they’ll ever forget you.”

After Welch, Gwatney stated that Darren Danner has officially started his position as Assistant Superintendent.

Danner remarked, “I’m honored to have this position and thanks to Dr. Gwatney and the Board for their support up to this point. We hope we can keep things going under the current leadership.

We’re going to automate some things in the maintenance department and continue building first-class facilities in the state of Georgia and the Southeast. We need your support to do that and the Fannin County voters to continue to support SPLOST. That’s my vision for the maintenance department.”

County and Schools Give Kids a Place to Play

Announcements, Community

Blue Ridge, Ga – Fannin County Government and Schools came together at the Board of Commissioners meeting to mark the start of their Summer Day Program for local children.

The intergovernmental agreement between the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education addresses the needs of school children to have somewhere to go over the summer months.

“140 school children are signed up for this wonderful program,” explained Chairman Stan Helton, “the school provides buses on a lease to the county, and they provide food, service, and staff to support the summer nutritional program, so all the kids can have a good meal. I’m very grateful that the school works with us in this manner.”

Children will spend days at the park from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. They will have access to the gymnasium, football fields, ball fields, lobby for board games and arts-n-crafts and the After Schoolhouse. Also, field trips to Fannin Lanes, Blairsville Cinemas, Bill’s Roller Rink, and Amicolola Falls State Park are planned.  The program accommodates children from kindergarten to fifth grade.

The program has three sessions Session 1 June 3- June 14, Session 2 June 17 – June 28, and Session 3 July 8- July 19. Currently, all sessions are sold out for the year.

Board of Commissioners and the Humane Society now have a framework in place to help the abandoned dogs and cats of the county.

Next, the Humane Society and Board of Commissioners formalized the relationship between the two entities. The county has an existing relationship but wanted a framework put in place to build a stronger one in coming years.

“We have a common goal that is to address the problem and issues that come with abandoned dogs and cats in Fannin County,” said Helton, “Their spaying and neutering program can hopefully be expanded with our relationship.”

The Humane Society can now call the county their partner and vice versa.

“It opens the door for the future to do things, a slow, correct way. The county will benefit greatly, and certainly, the animals will benefit greatly, said Helton.

Post Two Commissioner Glenn Patterson stated, “I looked over it, and it looks very good. I think it’s a good thing.”

Library Board Member Mark Tune was reappointed to a new term, effective through July 1, 2022.

BoE hosts ceremony to honor retiring personnel

Education, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education held a ceremony on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 to honor retiring personnel of the school system.

From Blue Ridge Elementary, the board recognized Susan Carnahan, Patty Falls, Karen George and Lynn Reist.

From East Fannin Elemntary, Celeaste Baugh and Linda Greenleaf.

From West Fannin Elementary, Melenda Dillars and Debbie Patterson.

From Fannin County Middle School, Troyia Collis and Diane Ritchie.

(Image may be enlarged by clicking)

From the Nutrition department, Forrestine Hawkins, Anna Lou Postelle and Vickie Taylor are retiring from Blue Ridge Elementary, and Sandy Wehage is retiring from East Fannin Elementary.

From the Transportation department, Benny Long and Deborah Gail Thomas.

From the Maintenance department, Danny Shinpaugh.

Thank you to all involved in the education of the youth in the area!

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