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.
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.
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Calling all believers! Blue Ridge Elementary, East Fannin Elementary, West Fannin Elementary,
and Fannin County High School will be co-hosting a free literacy event on Thursday, December
13 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the Fannin County High School campus. Students, families,
and community members are invited to come immerse themselves in a joyous holiday
experience. Following the festival, the Swan Drive-in will present a showing of The Polar
Express at 6:15 p.m. as a fundraiser for literacy programming at the schools.
Pick up your map to the North Pole at the FCHS main entrance to guide you around the campus to our various activities; if you get lost along the way, a wandering elf will help direct you to your destination. If you are lucky, the conductor himself might even stop to punch your ticket!
Some of the interactive experiences offered will include themed crafting projects and a book walk. Wal-Mart and Ingles have generously donated a cookie decorating station and a hot chocolate bar. Home Depot will host a Holiday Builder’s workshop! Along the way to the Elf Workshop, where eager elves will assist with letter writing to Santa, feel free to peruse the artistic creations presented at the FCHS Gingerbread House Contest. The Fannin County Regional Library will also host on-site library card sign-up booth!
Also, various guest readers will provide dramatic readings of Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar
Express. Santa Claus himself will be there for free pictures and to hear all your holiday wishes.
Community and PTO partnerships have also generously donated several door prizes to reward
the attendance of these avid readers. Please join us for this magical evening!
All children fifth grade and under will receive free admission into the film. All other tickets will
go on sale for the film at the Swan Drive-in on December 2, and ticket prices are $5 each. On
December 13, you will be able to purchase tickets to the Swan’s showing of the film at FCHS or
at the entrance to the Swan. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit future literacy projects.
Various other corporate and community sponsors are working together to help make this event a
success, and they will all be recognized at the event.
This event is designed to welcome all ages. If you would like more information, please feel free
to contact Sarah Welch, Literacy Coordinator, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone
at 706.632.2081 ext. 125. Follow event details on Facebook with Fannin County Schools, or use
#literacyexpress or #fanninreads on Twitter to share your experiences. Fannin County, a Get
Georgia Reading community, was awarded the L4GA grant at the end of last year, and we have a
lasting commitment to sustainably impact literacy at all levels!
Character Ed word for the month of October was Responsibility. The definition is “dependable and accountable for your words and actions; not blaming others for your mistakes”
These students were chosen for consistently displaying this character trait throughout the month. Congratulations to all of you!
Pictured above from left to right- Front row: Hannah Carranza-Alvarez, Addie Welch, Rayleigh Schuknecht, Kage Cook, Ella Lackey, Jonathon Chambers, McKinley Sandefur, and Serenity Frazier. Middle row: Savannah Herndon, Riley Vaughan, Tallie Mull, Clay Dillard, Addy Plott, Colton Bradburn, and Toni Harrison. Back row: Lesly Alvarado, Jamari Patterson, Will Jones, Grayson Rhoads, Fox Sharp, Casi Mealer, Carlee Klinesmith, and Lily Hawkins. Not pictured: Jada Harper
National School Lunch Week was from October 15th – 19th. West Fannin’s nutrition department celebrated by giving out random prizes to students who ate school lunch. Our nutrition staff serves over 330 lunches each week with a smile on their face. We truly appreciate these ladies and everything they do for our students and staff.
School Lunch 9: Kindergarten student Khaleesi Roberson is very excited about winning a prize.
School Lunch 15 (Featured Image at top): Fifth-grade students all enjoying our school lunch – left side of table front to back: Crystal Dockery, Harley Stanley, Devon Meissner. Right side of the table front to back: Natalee Reeves, Michael Chastain, Eli Hughes.
Some third graders at West Fannin Elementary School were fortunate enough to visit with Tim Mercier of Mercier’s Orchards on Thursday, October 18th. Mercier’s has worked with 1st and 3rd-grade students for two years in their apple orchard beginning with helping to plant our 15 trees. These 15 trees are part of our on-going STEAM project. Students learn about our three different types of apples in our orchard (Arkansas Black, Gold Rush, Crimson Topaz). Students learn about the origin of the trees and how and when to plant the trees. Students also go out once a month and measure each tree and graph them in a bar graph. These graphs are then used to compare from month to month and from year to year the growth of the trees. As students were measuring this month they noticed that some of our trees were not growing as we had hoped and that there were some brown spots on our leaves. As they were researching they wanted to ask Mercier’s to come back and see our trees and help us to diagnose our problems. Mr. Mercier was kind enough to come out and share with our students. These students will now go back and redeliver the findings to the rest of the third-grade students. As the kids would say, “ We now know our problem so now we will start planning on how we will create a solution to solve this problem.”
Picutred at the top: Tim Mercier, Brody Graham and Keats Miller (2 boys in front), Josalyn Deal and Sadie Patto
By, Mrs. Mary Jean Pace, 4th grade science teacher
West Fannin Elementary had the great privilege of joining in the Rivers Alive Clean-up on Saturday, September 29th. We began our morning at WFES with a safety briefing from Trout Unlimited representative, Peggy Reich, who then passed out Rivers Alive t-shirts, gloves, trash bags, and bug spray. Students from Pre-K through fifth grade, along with family members, scoured our school campus, nature trail, and stream for trash and debris.
Some of the items removed included rubber tires, a toilet tank, rusty gallon cans, foam stuffing, metal poles cemented into rubber tires, as well as plastic containers and trash. After loading the trash and debris onto a trailer, we shared a delicious lunch and dessert by the river at Tammen Park, with many of our kids enjoying a wade or swim at the boat ramp! Our WFES Rivers Alive Clean-up Day was a great success! Cleaning our campus, nature trail, and stream of rubber tires, trash, and old building debris has made West Fannin a safer and more environmentally-healthy place to learn and enjoy! Thanks again to our families who attended as well as Trout Unlimited for including West
Fannin Elementary in the 2018 Rivers Alive clean-up!
By: Lucas Roof, Principal
As a Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) STEM Certified school, West Fannin Elementary was chosen by the GaDOE to host multiple STEM Open House Days throughout this school year where educators and educational leaders throughout the state are invited to visit West Fannin. West Fannin’s first STEM Open House of the school year took place on September 26th, 2018.
Approximately 20 visitors from across the state came to observe best practices in STEM education, to receive support and advice from West Fannin teachers and administrators on the topic of STEM education, and to have conversations with West Fannin’s students about STEM projects. Many West Fannin business partners and stakeholders were also present for this STEM Open House to work with the students. The visitors were impressed; this was an exciting and rewarding day for West Fannin.
West Fannin will also have STEM Open House Days on November 16th, 2018 and March 12th, 2019.
STEM Open House: 1st and 3rd grade working together in the orchard – Conner Reddin (1st grade) and Keats Miller (3rd grade)
STEM Open House 2: Chelsea Osborne (1st grade), Sadie Patton (3rd grade), Karlyn Martin (1st grade)
STEM Open House 3: 2nd grade students Owen Man and Luke Strobel. Second grade students are working to make plaques for the butterfly garden in Braille that identify the plants. Owen is using our Braille typewriter.
STEM Open House 4: Kindergarten students (left to right, front row) Ellee Gibbs, Rylee Burk, Tinsley Plush. Back Shaun Simmons
STEM Open House 5: 2nd grade students using the STEM Engineering Design Process to create windmills – Netalie Freeman, Kaylee Callahan, Triston Cross, Brody Ingle
STEM Open House 6: 5th grade investigative research team is working on the Phenology of leaves they are finding the average temperature outside – Natalee Reeves (sitting) and Kalyn Martin
Feature Image – (left to right) – Georgia Hasson (striped dress), Madison Queen, Samantha Combs
On September 4th and 5th students in 3rd grade followed the STEM/STEAM process to create solar ovens. The challenge: Can you make a solar oven that will cook a s’more? Students were given various materials such as foam, black paper, aluminum foil, and boxes. They could only use the materials provided for them. Students worked in small groups to plan and construct their oven. Then, the ovens were taken to the blacktop where students strategically placed them to cook the s’mores. There was another unplanned challenge: overcast weather. However, students were not disappointed. They were able to see the rise in the temperature, record it, and do observations each 5 minutes.
By, April Shinpaugh, (3rd grade math teacher)