Vidalia School Board Honored
The Vidalia City Schools Board of Education is one of only four or five Boards in the State whose members do not receive compensation for their services to school children and their families.
“I think that lends itself to having people who have good intentions to serve. Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox said in presenting a Governor’s proclamation to the Board members at the March meeting. “A lot of times it's about being supportive and providing resources, more so than decisions, that impact these kids for a long time. Thank you for what you do.” Governor Brian Kemp did proclaim that “the men and women serving on school boards in communities across Georgia have demonstrated a strong commitment to quality and public education by securing adequate resources, promoting academic standards and fostering partnerships within the community.” For this reason, he declared the week of March 15 -21, 2021, as School Board Appreciation Week, and Dr. Wilcox was sure to acknowledge it for his Board members. In other business, the Board approved expenditures for three requests. The baseball and softball field scoreboards, in use since about 2003, will be replaced for $32,440. Fifty desktop computers for teachers at J.R. Trippe will be purchased for $26,750. Both of these will use SPLOST funds.
The third request approved will be for bigger items and instruments for the band programs in fifth grade through high school. In organizing and evaluating band equipment when first arriving to instruct at Vidalia City Schools, band directors Dr. Beth Taylor and Steven Arnold found much need for replacements of instruments that had been overused for many years.
Interest in band has been generated in younger students; for the first time, there are band classes in 5th grade and there are 50 students in these classes. Taylor works with various instrument groups at S.D. Meadows four days a week, and the whole group on Fridays. Arnold has a sixthgrade beginner class of 30, seventh has 18, and there are 23 in eighth grade. The directors are excited about building upon these numbers of young musicians.
Dr. Taylor said, “I’ve always said if the roots are rotten, the flowers won’t bloom on the top. With a strong background the students are getting at the middle school and the support with Mr. Stephens (SDM) and Dr. Reid ( JRT), we feel really good that the equipment we are asking for is going to take us into the future.” Wilcox recommended to the Board that the policy for supplemental pay for coaches and staff who are certified to drive buses, and who are filling in as bus drivers because of a shortage, be upgraded from $25 per route to $35. Also, all bus drivers who are now driving for the after-school program will also receive this increase in pay after completing their normal route at the $25 rate. There is a need for more bus drivers since some current drivers are retiring. The Board approved the supplemental pay update to the board policies. Assistant Superintendent Ginger Morris shared her excitement about the start of the after-school program, although she prefers to rename it due to its comprehensive approach. The program will offer face-toface, direct and sequenced instruction for an hour, along with snack time and other after school care elements. There will be small group instruction with a literacy focus, involving a teacher and a paraprofessional in each classroom.
The goal of this program will be to close the gap in literacy skills caused by lost classroom time during school closings last spring. At J.D. Dickerson, teacher recommendations will be used to determine the 50 students who will benefit from the program. At S.D. Meadows, in grades 2 through 5, reading inventories and benchmarks will be used to determine which students can benefit from the extra instruction. There will be 80 students in this program at Meadows. Morris is grateful for the bus drivers who are available to transport the students to this after school program. Students who are car riders are eligible to attend, also.
These students who benefit from the current after school program are also eligible for the summer instructional session, as needed. Morris reported that this session will probably be held in the morning, with Nutrition Director Denise Parson and her staff prepared to provide breakfast, snacks and a togo lunch for the summer students. Morris explained that if parents have questions or concerns about how the after school instructional program is operating, including teacherstudent ratio, instruction or safety, they can observe the program in order to make decisions for enrolling their students in the summer.