Fannin County Teacher of the Year 2022

Board of Education, Community, Education

FANNIN COUNTY, Ga. Congratulations to the 2022 Fannin County Teacher of the Year, Mandy Housley. The Fannin County Teacher of the Year Banquet 2022 bestowed their appreciation for the excellence in education. There was one nominee from each of the five schools: Alex Whitener- Blue Ridge Elementary School, Tiffany Brown- East Fannin Elementary School, Stacy Herndon- West Fannin Elementary School, Amanda Thomas- Fannin County Middle School and Mandy Housley- Fannin County High School.

In a video presentation, insight was shared as to why the nominees deserved their nomination. Each aspirant had a fellow teacher and their principal from their school give a few words. In Mrs. Housley’s clip, “. . . it’s what she does for others, she’s an inspiration to all of us,” one of her fellow teachers stated. “My advice to any teacher is show yourself grace; you’re going to make mistakes,” Mrs. Housley added. The video presentation brought to light the wonderful qualities about all the nominees of the Fannin County School System. Housley gave a few words after accepting the award. Housley credited a past teacher of hers for inspiring her. “This one single teacher changed the trajectory of my life,” Housley said.

“The real winners are our students; they are on the receiving end of the wonderful work you all [teachers] are doing,” stated Fannin County Board of Education Board Member, Terry Bramlett-Chair.  Additionally, Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney Concluded the night before announcing the winner with “thank you, our teachers are the heart of our system and the heart of the education of our students.”

Free/Reduced school lunch applications ready as school year starts

Community, Education
School lunch

FANNIN COUNTY, Ga. — With the academic year officially underway, Fannin County students are returning to school with a new change in the cafeteria. A pandemic-era benefit that provided free school lunch to all students has expired after Congress did not extend it for another school year.

The change has led many school districts to focus on expanding awareness and accessibility to free/reduced lunch applications to students and families alike. In an email with FYN, Fannin County School System’s Director of Nutrition and Wellness Martha Williams shared some information regarding the change. “The waiver to provide meals at no cost has expired,” she wrote, “to continue receiving meals at a free or reduced rate, parents/guardians will need to complete an application.”

Williams also included a link that gives online accessibility to the application. However, Fannin County is not the only school district in the area that has worked to expand accessibility with an online option. The Pickens County Board of Education, and other school staff, recently stressed their work to do the same during a board of education meeting this summer.

For families or students that prefer a physical option, Williams explained that all students would receive a printed copy in their beginning of the year packet, which also includes a link to the online option. She also told FYN that both the district and school’s nutrition staff would be able to assist families in completing their applications.

While some school systems will begin charging for breakfast again, Williams emphasized that all Fannin County Schools will provide free breakfast to enrolled students. Lunch, however, will come at different prices depending on the school each student attends. Elementary school students can purchase lunch for $2.35, while middle and high school students’ lunch will cost $2.60. Adults will also be able to purchase lunch at the price of $4.55

Fannin County Students are Recognized by the School Board for their success at the National Conference

Community, Education, Featured Stories
The Board recognized the MS and HS Technology Student Association (TSA) programs for their huge success at the National Conference this summer. On June 26th, 11 Fannin High School and Middle School students traveled to Dallas, TX for the National Technology Student Association Conference under the supervision of Mrs. Alesha Stiles, Mrs. Michelle Davis and Mrs. Beth Ware. The honors they received are listed below. What an exceptional group of students and advisors they are! Congratulations to Bryce Ware who was elected GA TSA State Sergeant-at-Arms for the upcoming year and Mrs. Michelle Davis who was named Middle School TSA Sponsor of the Year for the state of Georgia.
National TSA Top 10 Finalists:
Photography: Karleigh-Jayne Stiles (10th place in the Nation)
Computer Animated Design: Conner Kyle (5th in the Nation)
High School Problem Solving: Bryce Ware & James Kyle (9th in the Nation)
Middle School Problem Solving: Sawyer White & Conner Kyle (3rd in the Nation)
Mass Production: Conner Kyle (9th in the Nation)

An interview with Board of Education candidate Mike Cole

Board of Education, Election
Mike Cole

FANNIN COUNTY, Ga. — Mike Cole is the current Vice Chair of the Fannin County Board of Education. His seat is uncontested, but he spoke with FYN to discuss his time on the board and goals for the future.

Mike Cole said his experiences as a member of the community initially led him to run for the board. He first mentioned that when taking his daughter to school he saw “lack in some areas, waste in other areas.” Cole also owns an automotive repair shop that he said needed employees. He believed the lack of workers in the area was a sign the school system did not have strong vocational education.

Since being elected, Cole said the board has accomplished many things, especially for vocational education. He highlighted a now established “state-of-the-art” welding program. Cole noted that an automotive teacher is already teaching and should have a full facility completed and ready for students by 2024. Along with construction, health and sports medicine programs in Fannin County schools, Cole said “I came in wanting to get the vocational up and get it moving again, and I believe we’ve done that.”

Cole told FYN that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of mental health care in the school system. He said, while many people are unaware, the schools in the county have resources to help students struggling with mental health issues, such as anxiety. To inform community members about the resources available within Fannin County schools, Cole said he has worked to get Shannon Miller, the Director of Student Services, to speak at a Republican Party meeting: “She’s got a fabulous team. They’re dealing with kids on a daily basis, and so I’m really proud of that, that were actually stepping in and taking a lead on that.”

He also noted increases in special-purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) funding, “In the last 12 months we’ve got nine million dollars, so we’ve put that to work.” Specifically, Cole mentioned a new, fully paid for bus facility that is under construction. He also said the board is considering plans to create a wellness center on 160 acres of land that the board purchased: “That wellness center will incorporate, hopefully, several different other aspects as far as sports.” Cole said the center would include dedicated wrestling spaces, as well as baseball and softball fields. The wellness center, he noted, would also expand access to vocational facilities that currently don’t have space in the schools.

When it comes to involving parents and teachers with his work on the board, Cole emphasized communication. He said during school visits he asks the teachers what their “needs, wants, and desires” are. To interact with parents, Cole says “I’m always trying to visit all these sports programs, FFA, wherever I can be a part of.” He also mentioned his recent participation in a nature trail walk with the middle school that allowed him to interact with parents.

Discussing possible improvements that could be made in his next term, Cole mentioned that he would like to see pay increases that would make janitor and lunch workers’ income competitive in the community. As far as curriculum, Cole said he is “well satisfied” with where the school system is now. He suggested that concerns over controversial issues, like Critical Race Theory, often come from national media. On a local level, however, Cole said: “It’s my knowledge that’s not being taught here at all. It’s not in our curriculum. The only thing we’re required to teach is Georgia Standards, and that’s what we teach.”

There are two board of education seats on the ballot this May, but only one seat is contested. Incumbent Bobby Bearden is being challenged by both Debi Holcomb and Clarence “Junior” Farmer. Incumbent Mike Cole, however, has no challengers. More information about the election on May 24, 2022 can be found here or on the Fannin County Board of Elections website.

An interview with Board of Education candidate Clarence Farmer

Board of Education, Election
Farmer

FANNIN COUNTY, Ga. — Clarence “Junior” Farmer is one of two candidates hoping to succeed the incumbent, Bobby Bearden, on the Fannin County Board of Education this year. Farmer, who has served on the board previously, was absent from a recent candidates forum due to a spinal surgery. Although he is still recovering, Farmer briefly spoke with FYN about his election bid.

Farmer, born and raised in Fannin County, emphasized his previous experience on the board. During his tenure, Farmer said he visited the Fannin County schools every month and talked to the teachers who worked there. “I’m for good schools, good education, and high graduation rate,” Farmer said, adding that the graduation rate had increased during his time on the board. He also noted that, when he was a member, the board worked to build a new football stadium and bring a college campus to the county. The campus was ultimately built in Ellijay, but Farmer said he advocated for Fannin County during the process.

Farmer also stressed vocational education as something the county needs. “There’s a lot of kids that can’t go to college, and they can go to a vocational school,” he said. Farmer, who attended a vocational school himself, said that they can provide opportunity to underserved communities. He cited education in plumbing, carpentry, and electrical work as jobs that students can be prepared for with vocational education. “Vocational school would help this county a whole lot,” he added.

He also noted his involvement with students during his previous tenure: “I worked with the kids and everything, and I attended every football game for four years, except four games.” Farmer said he attended just about every basketball, softball, baseball, and soccer game as well.

He made clear that his community involvement didn’t stop with students, “I was there for the parents, and they knew it too.” Similarly, he mentioned his open communication with Fannin County teachers. “I think the teachers right now are doing a good job, I really do,” Farmer said, adding “I talked to a lot of teachers when I was on the board, and they appreciate that.” As a board member, Farmer said he’d like to see all five members work together to help the people of the county.

When asked what he wants voters to remember about him, Farmer replied, “I want them to remember me as the peoples’ candidate. I hope they choose me as their choice, and if they do I’ll work with the parents, teachers, administrators, and I’ll work with them anyway I can, help them anyway I can.”

There are two board of education seats on the ballot this May, but only one seat is contested. Incumbent Bobby Bearden is being challenged by both Debi Holcomb and Clarence “Junior” Farmer. More information about the election on May 24, 2022 can be found here or at the Fannin County Board of Elections website.

An interview with Board of Education candidate Bobby Bearden

Board of Education, Election
Bobby Bearden

FANNIN COUNTY, Ga. — Bobby Bearden has served on the Fannin County Board of Education for almost twenty years. “There’s two priorities that I have. Number one is the students. I want a quality education. Number two is the taxpayers and the citizens of Fannin County,” he told FYN during an interview discussing his re-election bid. Bearden is the incumbent candidate but is facing a challenge from both Debi Holcomb and Clarence “Junior” Farmer.

Bobby Bearden has lived in Fannin County for 48 years and currently works for the City of Blue Ridge. He has also served in the US Army, and he ran Bearden’s Muffler Shop for over thirty years. Now, Bearden is finishing his twentieth year working on the Board of Education. “Education, to me, is number one,” he said, adding, “not just for them to go to school, but I want them to get a quality education while they’re there, and I believe they’re doing that.”

Bearden said the board has made many accomplishments during his twenty year tenure. He specifically mentioned the updates and renovations that have been made to several buildings throughout the county. He also touched on the expansion of vocational education in the county during his time on the board. While they have already established a welding class and nursing program at the high school, Bearden said he would like to see an auto-mechanics and small engine class created. He believes those classes will expand opportunity for Fannin County students: “Not everybody that goes through school is going to go to college, and they need something to do.”

Another accomplishment, Bearden noted, is the purchase of 160 acres to be utilized by the school system, “It’s a tremendous thing, I think, that we was able to purchase that land next to the high school for future use.” He said the board will begin conversations on how to use the property this month.

Bearden, responding to criticism of the board’s transparency with the community, said “I think we are. The only thing that we can’t put out in public is what happens in executive session.” He said most people are aware of what is happening, especially because of online options that allow parents to see how their children are doing in school. “That’s one thing that I can tell you that I’m 110% for, is transparency,” Bearden added, “That’s how the school board and the school system and the community gets along.”

Bearden said he believes the school board does work well together and with the community as a whole: “We don’t all agree, but when it comes down to it, we agree for the good of the school.” That cooperation allows them to accomplish things like pay raises for employees, he emphasized: “They deserve it, all the people that work for us. Whether it be a custodian, a bus driver, a school teacher or whatever, they deserve all the money that they can get.” Bearden also said that the board has worked to decrease the millage rate over the last five years and has used special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) funding to remodel the school buildings.

He also touched on state and federal government influence in Fannin County schools, which was a topic at a recent candidates forum. Bearden said that while “there’s certain things that you have to abide by,” being a charter system allows “more control over what happens at all of our five schools.” He also noted that there is a School Governance Team (SGT) at each school that meets to discuss the schools’ needs. “They know exactly what the school needs and the people in Atlanta don’t,” Bearden emphasized.

There are two board of education seats on the ballot this May, but only one seat is contested. Incumbent Bobby Bearden is being challenged by both Debi Holcomb and Clarence “Junior” Farmer. More information about the election on May 24, 2022 can be found here or the Fannin County Board of Elections website.

An interview with Board of Education candidate Debi Holcomb

Board of Education, Election
Board of Education candidate Debi Holcomb

FANNIN COUNTY, Ga. — Debi Holcomb is one of two candidates challenging the incumbent, Bobby Bearden, for a seat on the Fannin County Board of Education this year. Holcomb, who is legally blind, spoke with FYN about her election bid, saying “it doesn’t take eye sight to have a vision, and I have a vision for a better Fannin County school system.”

Holcomb, who moved to Blue Ridge in 2005, said community involvement is important to her. She currently volunteers at Fannin County Animal Control and serves as a trustee on the Fannin County Library Board. She was also appointed to the Comprehensive Plan Planning Committee, where she served her term. Holcomb also noted that she started, and now chairs, a peer support group for visually impaired North Georgians.

Holcomb said she has always had interest in education because of her six children and five grandchildren, but her work as a reporter for the Fannin Sentinel made her more familiar with the school board. As she became more involved, Holcomb said she “became concerned about the time that the Board of Education stopped having public workshops, and started doing things not quite out in the open.” On a national level, Holcomb said that conversations about critical race theory and gender identification concerned her as well.

Holcomb also touched on drug usage and other misbehavior within the school system. “Of course education starts at home,” Holcomb said, “In our community we know the poverty level that’s kinda hid, and we know that not all home circumstances are the best.” When it becomes a reoccurring problem in the school system, however, she said the school board has a responsibility to review policies that are not working well: “Our job is to protect the children, and how can we protect the children if we’re turning our backs and ignoring what’s going on.” When it comes to reviewing those board and school policies, Holcomb said she would like to look at all of them, and have more discussion with both teachers and parents. Holcomb said she was floored to find out that not every school has a guidance counselor, and some special education classes only have one teacher at a time. She noted those instances are examples of when a policy should be reviewed.

Holcomb said she had recently attended a meeting with the Georgia State Superintendent Richard Woods: “He informed us that, contrary to what parents have been told in an open meeting, that the curriculum is handled at the local level.” Because of this, Holcomb said, preventing inappropriate curriculum and school library books from entering Fannin County schools is the responsibility of the county’s school board. “I am afraid that the current board members treat their job as part time, show up for your meetings, collect your money, and go. I myself feel that schools need to be visited on a regular basis, somebody needs to be monitoring exactly what’s being taught,” she emphasized.

She argued that the school system’s budget could be used in a way that better serves the students: “I know there are issues. Water issues, mold issues in the elementary schools. So, I don’t understand why we are doing a multimillion dollar bus and admin building with those SPLOST dollars instead of taking care of existing problems where our students are actually at.” Holcomb also noted that she had recently learned Fannin County shares a portion of its revenue with poorer counties. Holcomb said she would look at where the money is being sent and talk with the state government to see if that amount could be reduced.

When it comes to teachers, Holcomb believes that more communication and board involvement is important. “Right now, I don’t think that most of our school faculty feel that the board even listens, and I want to be one that they know is going to listen,” she said.

There are two board of education seats on the ballot this May, but only one seat is contested. Incumbent Bobby Bearden is being challenged by both Debi Holcomb and Clarence “Junior” Farmer. More information about the election on May 24, 2022 can be found here or at the Fannin County Board of Elections website.

Fannin County School System Survey

Rebel's Corner
Fannin County Schools COVID-19

At our Board meeting last evening, we unveiled a community survey we are launching to gather information about what future construction projects should be considered.

Here is a direct link to a site with information about the survey: http://bit.ly/fcssfutureplanning

Stakeholders can also access it by going to our website and using a button on the home page.

Fannin County School System Kindergarten Registration for Fall 2020

Community, Rebel's Corner
Kindergarten Registration

Kindergarten registration will be open from Monday, April 20, 2020 through Friday, April 24,
2020. Children who have attained the age of five on or before September 1, 2020 shall be eligible
for enrollment in kindergarten for the 2020-2021 school year. Due to the COVID-19 school
closure kindergarten registration for Fall 2020 will be conducted either using the online enrollment
form or by calling the elementary school in your attendance zone. (The enrollment link is located
on the Fannin County School System website at www.fannin.k12.ga.us.) The custodial
parent/guardian of the child is the only one authorized to complete the enrollment process.
The 911 address of your residence must be used when enrolling your child, and you must enroll
your child in the district you reside. Not enrolling in the appropriate district could result in a
transfer of your student. If you have a question regarding which district you are zoned to attend
please contact the transportation department Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00
AM- 3:00 PM.

Fannin County School System Transportation Department

706-632-7802

In order to complete the registration process the following documentation will be needed.
Summer office hours for each school will be posted to provide an opportunity for
parents/guardians to submit this required paperwork to complete the registration process. It is
mandatory that all of the required documents be submitted within 30 days from the first day of
school this fall.
 An official document showing proof of birth date (example: birth certificate)
 Legal documentation pertaining to the child’s custody (If applicable)
 Two forms of proof of legal residency (example: utility bill, Georgia driver’s license, etc.)
 Child’s Social Security Card
 A valid Georgia certificate of immunization (GA Form #3231)
 Evidence of Vision, Hearing, and Nutrition Screening (GA Form #3300-Rev. 2013)
Thank you and if you have any questions please contact the appropriate elementary school.

Registration Office Hours: Monday through Friday 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Blue Ridge Elementary
706-632-5772

East Fannin Elementary
706-374-6418

West Fannin Elementary
706-492-3644

Fannin County School System aces SPLOST audit

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – An audit of the Fannin County School System’s SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) collection and spending has shown that the district is being good stewards of these funds.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney explained the purposes of the independent audit were a requirement by the state when SPLOST collections exceed $5 million within a county.

SPLOST collections for 2017 totaled approximately $5.1 million and collections for 2018 topped that number bringing in $5.6 million.

Finance Director Susan Holloway explained that the Fannin County School calendar year ran from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, and that collections during this period was the first fiscal school year that the system met the amount requiring an audit.

Georgia code section O.C.G.A.20-2-491 requires public school systems to maintain continuing performance audits for expenditures of sales tax.
Mauldin and Jenkins was selected to carry out the audit for the school system.

“They audit 40 school systems, including more schools in Georgia than any other firm. They also audit 53 counties including more counties in Georgia than any other firm, and they audit 112 cities including more cities in Georgia than any other firm,” Holloway said explaining the reason for choosing Mauldin and Jenkins and added, “We felt they were solid.”

The audit’s purpose was to find out if the Fannin County School System was meeting 3 requirements:

  • 1. Provide a goal that ensures tax funds are spent efficiently and economically, so that the school district receives the maximum benefit from dollars collected.
  • 2. Provide reports not less than once annually to ensure that the terms laid out in item 1 are being met.
  • 3. Provide for periodic public recommendations not less than once annually for improvements in meeting the goal specified in item 1.

Mauldin and Jenkins tested approximately 60 claims. These claims accounted for $1,027,970 or 15.3 percent of total disbursements for the year.
Holloway announced the findings of the audit saying that Mauldin and Jenkins “concluded that the Fannin County School District’s SPLOST is operating in compliance with all laws and regulations, the referendum approved by the county citizens and industry best practices.”

Special recognition was given to Director of Maintenance and Facilities Danny Shinpaugh by the auditing firm for his role in providing the BOE with continuous and thorough updates regarding construction projects relating to school properties.

Having looked into the bidding and decision making processes involved, focusing on the recently constructed Agricultural Center, along with negotiations that had been made, Mauldin and Jenkins also recognized Shinpaugh’s outstanding management in overseeing construction projects.

“It was a very fair process,” Holloway said of the manner in which the audit was performed and gave special credit to her team in the finance department for the hard work and many hours they put in all year: “There’s a lot of times they’re the first ones here and the last ones to leave and they’re willing to dig in.”

“With the Superintendent and the Board’s support I have been able to hand pick these awesome ladies. I appreciate you for that,” Holloway said expressing thanks for all her fellow coworkers.

Dr. Gwatney shared his thoughts on the findings of the SPLOST audit: “It’s comforting to have the reassurance of an external audit to show that these funds that are being collected are being utilized legally, properly, ethically and in the manner that matches the referendum.”

The Fannin County School System is now hoping that the residents of Fannin County will continue the district’s success and provide the school system with a continuation of collections for SPLOST.

With the SPLOST IV referendum allowing the school system to collect but not exceed $27.5 million by March 2021, projections are indicating that this goal will be met before the ability to collect SPLOST funds expires.

It is the hopes of the BOE and fellow faculty with in the Fannin County School System that the public will allow for a continuation of this collection with the increased cap amount to be $34.5 million.

A Special Election will be held on Tuesday, March 19 for the approval of the SPLOST V referendum and Early Voting is taking place now. If passed the new referendum would allow FCSS to move the cap of SPLOST funds to $34.5 million.

 

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 [email protected]

Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby Update

Community

Mike and Brian joined BKP on GMFTO to talk about the upcoming race!
PLEASE contact Mike Sullivan (919-273-8315, [email protected]) or Brian
Higgins (706-455-9829, [email protected]) to become a sponsor.

 

Fannin County Schools will seek SPLOST continuation

Community, News, Rebel's Corner
Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Education, GEMA, FEMA, Michael Ruple, EMA Director Robert Graham, Lt. Darvin Couch

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) has voted in favor of the continuation of collections for SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) and now they hope the public will do the same.

SPLOST has helped in the funding of several projects within the Fannin County School System (FCSS). Some of the more recent notable projects include the construction of the Agricultural Building located off of Windy Ridge Road and the technology upgrades seen throughout the FCSS campuses.

Blue Ridge, Board of Education, Fannin County School System, Fannin County Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Fannin County, Georgia, Terry Bramlett, Finance Director, Susan Holloway, Director of Planning, Policy, & Curriculum, Darren Danner, Lynn Doss,  Raymond James and Associates, Gray Pannell and Woodward LLP, Mary Ann Conner, Chuck Cook, Fannin County Elections and Registration, SPLOST IV, SPLOST V, Special Election, March 19, 2019

The new Agricultural Center located off of Windy Ridge Road is a direct result of Fannin County SPLOST collections.

“That’s where I feel like we are being good stewards of our taxpayer dollars,” FCSS Finance Director Susan Holloway addressed the BOE concerning SPLOST funds, “Because what we have is aged facilities, but we are doing, I think, an excellent job of maintaining and keeping them in top notch shape.”

The latest SPLOST update for Nov. 2018 in the amount of $500,946.90 shows that collections in the account are following an increasing trend.
With the SPLOST IV referendum allowing the school system to collect but not exceed $27.5 million by March 2021, projections are indicating that this goal will be met before the ability to collect SPLOST funds expires.

Holloway explains, “We’re in our SPLOST IV referendum and that referendum is for $27,500,000.00. The collections for this referendum began in April of 2016. It ends in March of 2021. A SPLOSTt referendum runs for 5 years. If we stay on this path that we are on we are probably going to cap out at that $27.5 million before we get to that date.”

It is the hopes of the BOE and fellow faculty with in the FCSS that the public will allow for a continuation of this collection with the increased cap amount to be $34.5 million.

The school system has worked closely with local council Lynn Doss, Raymond James and Associates, Gray Pannell and Woodward LLP, and Mary Ann Conner and Chuck Cook with the Fannin County Elections and Registration Office to have an SPLOST referendum added as a Special Election in 2019.

Based on projections from Gray Pannell and Woodward LLP, the FCSS is asking for the increased amount of $34.5 million. Holloway explains the number, “We should not cap out on this one. Hopefully in five years we’ll get the life out of this SPLOST.”

Along with the additional requested SPLOST collections, the BOE discussed preapproval of bonding $14 million for emergency purposes.
“The Board of Education utilizes bonding not to complete projects, but as emergency funding,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney clarified the discussion for the preapproval.

School Board Member Terry Bramlett expanded on the subject, “We’re simply reserving the right to do that (obtain a bond) should we have an emergency, because there would be interest related to a bonded portion of the money. All efforts would be exhausted not to do that.”

What will the Fannin County School System use SPLOST collections for? According the new referendum the purpose of these funds will be allocated in the following areas:

  • A) adding to, renovating, repairing, improving, equipping, and demolishing existing school buildings, school system facilities, parking lots and driveways, physical education/athletic facilities and fields;
  • B) updating and purchasing HVAC systems, system technology, electrical systems, nutritional equipment and electronic communications systems;
  • C) acquiring new computer hardware, technology equipment, safety and security equipment, and software;
  • D) acquiring miscellaneous new equipment, fixtures, and furnishings for the school district;
  • E) acquiring school buses and other vehicles, transportation and maintenance equipment and facilities;
  • F) acquiring, constructing and equipping new buildings and facilities useful and desirable, including but not limited to, a new          STEM/Science wing at Fannin County Middle School, a new Health and Wellness Multipurpose Facility; a new professional development facility;
  • G) acquiring and/or improving land for school system facilities;
  • H) purchasing traditional and electronic textbooks, purchase new and upgrades to print and electronic media collections

The new projected STEM/Science wing at Fannin County Middle School, along with the new projected Health and Wellness Multipurpose Facility at Fannin County High School were highlighted as projects of the SPLOST V referendum.

According to Bramlett SPLOST “allows people who visit our fair country to participate rather than having to rely solely on the property owners.”

Attorney Lynn Doss backed up this statement saying that statistically between 54 -70 percent of SPLOST collections in Fannin County comes from visitors.

Director of Planning, Policy, & Curriculum Darren Danner spoke of the SPLOST V referendum: “This is not an additional tax. This is a continuation of SPLOST IV. If we meet that threshold before March of 2021,” adding, “If Fannin County voters approve this it will kick in immediately.”

Gwatney summed up the feelings of the BOE with a simple statement: “Thankful for SPLOST.”

A Special Election will be held on Tuesday, March 19 for the approval of the SPLOST V referendum, allowing FCSS to move the cap of SPLOST funds to $34.5 million. This referendum is expected to be the only item on the ballot.

 

 

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 [email protected]

Fannin County opts to remain a Charter School District

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) voted unanimously for the Fannin County School System to remain a charter school district.

Fannin County schools officially became a charter school system July, 01, 2015. According to the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE), a charter district must renew their intent and contract with the state every five years.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County School System, Fannin County High School, Fannin County Middle School, East Fannin Elementary, West Fannin Elementary, Blue Ridge Elementary, Board of Education, Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Chair, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Betsy Hyde, Lewis Deweese, Chad Galloway, Bobby Bearden, Terry Bramlett, Mike Cole, Georgia Department of Education, AdvancedEd, Charter, SGT, School Governance Team, QBE

Deputy Superintendent Betsy Hyde spoke with the BOE on what it means to remain a charter district.

Deputy Superintendent Betsy Hyde spoke to the BOE, “They (GDOE) asked us if we would amend our charter and say that we would review in 4 years.”

Upon Fannin County looking to obtain AdvancedED accreditation, the Georgia Department of Education asked administration to review their charter application a year early.

AdvancED is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of schools and school systems. Every five years a school system must participate in a targeted self-reflection process.

The AdvancedED helps to evaluate purpose and direction, governance and leadership, teaching and assessing for learning, resources and support systems, as well as engagement with stakeholders.

The charter renewal as well as the AdvancedEd accreditation are expected to have coinciding site visits to Fannin County Schools.

Hyde explained that during 2015, when Fannin County officially entered into the charter system, the state of Georgia offered three flexibility options for districts to pick from.

The first of these options was Status Quo. Under this option the school system would not be allowed waivers and have limited flexibility on the local level to customize the school learning environment.

The second option presented was the IE2/Strategic Waiver. This gave districts the ability to ask for specific waivers, but did not allow for School Governance Teams (SGT) to be established.

Lastly school systems had the option of becoming a charter district. This option did not restrict waivers and required the formation of SGT. With this option Fannin County would be provided more flexibility in exchange for maintaining at or above state levels in reviews.

“One of the things that we do in our system is we had to have waivers for instance to do block scheduling, class size, different things like that,” Hyde said explaining the benefits of being a charter district.

The decision to initially become a charter school system was not one that was taken lightly, Hyde explained that countless hours of research went into the decision, including speaking with other charter systems and visiting different districts.

Some of the advantages to being a charter district include flexibility to innovate educational opportunities, financial savings from waivers, and possible additional funding in Quality Basic Education (QBE) if appropriated.

One of the outstanding characteristics is the creation of SGT within each of the Fannin County schools. The first SGT was established in June of 2015. These teams, comprised of 7 members, each meet on a regular basis and include school system faculty as well as parents.

Hyde explained the role of SGT more in depth,”Student Government Teams kind of help us distribute our leadership instead of you all being the only board in the whole system. You all are still over the whole system, but this gives some government back to the schools.”

BOE Chair Lewis Deweese admitted to being skeptical of the formation of SGT in the beginning but said of his feelings now, “I think what we’ve really created are some advocates for public education.”

Before taking vote, board member Terry Bramlett questioned, “Whenever we chose to become a charter system it seemed to be the fairer choice of offering the most flexible options and the greatest opportunity for our students. Would you agree that that’s still the case?”

Hyde replied that she still felt very strongly that being a charter system is the best option for Fannin County and added that it also allows the school system a wider range of options as future needs within the district arise.

The BOE took the first step in renewing its contract to stay a charter district by passing a resolution updating their procedures. While there are still many steps to take before this renewal is official, administration is confident in their choice and ability to continue with charter district status.

 

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 [email protected]

Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby Sponsorship

Community

Thanks for your consideration in sponsoring this community event! We are The Blue Ridge Soap Box
Derby, a 501c3 organization. With a festival or event almost monthly, there is always something exciting
to do here. However, most of the events are tourist driven and not geared towards kids in particular, so we
set out to change that. The Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby was created by locals and is geared towards the
local community, specifically kids and kids at heart. 100% of all profits go back to the Fannin County
School system, specifically the S.T.E.M program (Science.Technology.Engineering.Math). We hope this
will be a great success this year and many more years to come. Here is how YOU can help.

The different levels of sponsorships listed have a dollar amount listed for those wishing to contribute
monetarily; however, any combination of money and “in kind” services and/or donations will be
considered towards the total amount. The sponsor privileges below are a minimum and more perks may
be added as the Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby (BRSBD) progresses towards the event date. Thank YOU
for helping us make this event successful for the citizens of Fannin County, Georgia!


Vehicle Sponsorships:
$150 – This special sponsorship is designed to assist those who are unable to
afford the vehicle materials and registration. It will provide both the materials and registration fee for a
participant and includes a 24”x24” sponsor sign displayed in the derby car “pit” area as well as a 12”x6”
sponsor license plate to be displayed on the vehicle. Additional graphics may be displayed on the vehicle
or the driver at the sponsor’s expense. (The sponsor may choose to be anonymous and we will work with
them to design a fitting sign/license plate.)

Executive Level: $1,000 – Executive level sponsors will be provided a 10’x10’ booth space at the event
to use for their own promotional purposes and are the ONLY sponsors allowed to solicit products or
services during the event. A 3’x6’ banner will be provided by the BRSBD and displayed in the most
prominent location. Executive sponsors will have their name prominently displayed in each derby car
“pit” area (24”x24”). The name of the business will be mentioned prior to every race category by the
event announcers. Executive sponsors will have their name listed on top of sponsor boards and/or
announcements and event t-shirts. NOTE: Only 5 Executive Sponsors will be accepted for the event and
will not have “competing services”; for example, if Real Estate Company X is an executive level sponsor,
no other “real estate company” will be accepted as an Executive Sponsor.

Diamond Level: $500 – This level of sponsorship will include 3’x6’ banner will be provided by the
BRSD and displayed at the derby starting area; have their name prominently displayed in each derby car
“pit” area (24”x24”). The name of the business will be mentioned prior to every race category by the
event announcers and will have their name listed on top of sponsor boards and/or announcements and
event t-shirts.

Platinum Level: $250 – This level of sponsorship will include 2’x4’ banner will be provided by the
BRSD and displayed alongside the track; have their name prominently displayed in each derby car “pit”
area (24”x24”). The name of the business will be mentioned prior to every race category by the event announcers and will have their name listed on top of sponsor boards and/or announcements and event t-
shirts.

Gold Level: $150 – The name of the business will be mentioned prior to every race category by the event

announcers and will have their name listed on top of sponsor boards and/or announcements and event t-
shirts.

Silver Level: $75 – This level of sponsorship will have their name listed on sponsor boards and/or announcements and event t-shirts.

Bronze Level: $25 – This level of sponsorship will have their name listed on sponsor boards and/or
announcements.

We hope you’ll help support this awesome event and remember,

· We are an event for the local community by locals, but all are welcome of course!
· We are a 501 C-3, and volunteer-driven, NO ONE gets paid a dime.
· 100% of all the money raised after the bills are paid goes to the school system, specifically the
STEM program.
· We are working with the Boys and Girls Club to allow them to race for free (I’ll be building extra
cars for them)
· We’re also working on a getting Special Needs group together. They will be riding in tandem cars
with a driver, so they can experience the race as well.
· We will be reaching out to all of the surrounding Chamber of Commerce and school systems in
order to make it as big of an event as possible.
· It’s just going to be fun!

PLEASE contact Mike Sullivan (919-273-8315, [email protected]) or Brian
Higgins (706-455-9829, [email protected]) to become a sponsor.

Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby set for Saturday, April 27, 2019 – Seeking Corporate Sponsors

Community, News

CEO Mike Sullivan and CFO Brian Higgins of Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby Ltd., is hosting a community event on Saturday, April, 27, 2019, at Fannin Middle School.

Higgins, guest speaker at a recent Rotary Blue Ridge weekly meeting explained, “We are working with (Fannin) Boys & Girls club to allow them to race for free by building car kits previously purchased. Kits can be purchased for $150. People can sponsor a car for a child. We are offering car kits to the general public for a fee of $200. We are also offering a Corporate Class Sponsorship for businesses. We have three of our top five sponsor slots filled. Each sponsor is in his/her own category as to not have any competition between companies. We need 2 more!”

Sullivan pointed out the Derby will be:

  • Donating 100% of all money raised after the bills are paid will go to the Fannin County School System; specifically West Fannin’s STEM program.
  • Working on getting a Special Needs group together. They will ride in tandem cars with a driver so they can experience the race.

To become a Corporate Sponsor or to donate a car kit, please contact Mike Sullivan (919-273-8315, [email protected]) or Brian Higgins (706-455-9829, [email protected]).

Car kit fully built

Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby CEO Mike Sullivan and CFO Brian Higgins speak at weekly Rotary Club meeting.

Rotary Blue Ridge meets in the Chamber of Commerce meeting room 12 p.m.  Tuesdays. The Chamber is located at 152 Orvin Lance Dr, Suite A, Blue Ridge, GA.

Someone sitting in the shade is because someone planted a tree long ago.” Les Brown

FetchYourNews.com attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month for ad server. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 to 60,000 per week Facebook page reach. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or visit [email protected]

 

Rebels receive platinum farm-to-school award

Education, News, Rebel's Corner

“Fannin County School System was honored for farm-to-school excellence at the 2018 Golden Radish awards ceremony on Oct. 22 and we won the platinum level recognition at this awards ceremony,” Sisson said of the new accomplishment.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Board of Education, Fannin County School System, Nutrition Director, Candice Sisson, Golden Raddish, Platinum, Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Department of Public Health, the UGA Cooperative Extension, Georgia Organics, Farm to School

84 districts in Georgia were honored at this year’s Golden Radish Awards.

The award is presented by the Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Department of Public Health, the UGA Cooperative Extension, and Georgia Organics.

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.

Among the improvements that led to this achievement upgrade Sisson noted that students had participated in 165 taste tests with local items including a number of fruits and vegetables. Students had also raised and cared for chickens incubating and gathering their eggs.

The Fannin County School System boasts a number of edible gardens throughout the five campuses, as well as each campus having its own greenhouse.

“Out of 84 districts that were recognized, 22 recieved platinum, and Fannin County was one of those 22,” Sisson said of the district being honored.
With platinum being the top level to be achieved by the Golden Radish Awards, Sisson and all of the FCSS will work hard to maintain this accomplishment for years to come.

 

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 [email protected]

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