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Wheeler BOE Invests in Safety Measures

After viewing a video presentation from Safe Haven Defense Southeast on its bullet-proof film used to cover glass, the Wheeler County Board of Education voted to use part of a state Department of Education safety grant to purchase the film for placement in the most vulnerable areas of the school. The Board also approved the purchase of a 3-M Company shatterresistant glass covering for other areas that are already guarded by fencing.

A $50,000 security grant from the state was included in the FY24 budget for every Georgia school. The deadline for spending these funds is March 2024. The grant has already underwritten costs of adding fencing and cameras to the new campus, and additional grant funding provided locking mechanisms for classroom doors and enabled the purchase of a metal detector for athletic events. The grant also funded placing cameras on the front and side of the gymnasium to cover student parking and Railroad Street, which is adjacent to the gym.

A second grant from the Georgia Department of Health for $60,000 ($20,000 per school housed in the Wheeler School complex) was used for the improvement of air quality and the health and safety of the students and staff, specifically the placement of air purifiers in each classroom.

Superintendent Suzanne and Facilities Director Gregory Wilcher met with various companies to acquire quotes for security film to provide protective coverings for glass in certain areas of the school. Couey also referenced the Safer Georgia Schools Grant from the Georgia Department of Education for which the district recently submitted an application as another potential funding source for future projects. Word on that grant is expected later this month.

The Safe Haven product is costly at $200 per square foot, but is able to withstand tremendous force, such as that from a bullet. “Of course we hope we never need it, but we don’t want to get to the point where we need it and don’t have it,” Couey told the Board. While the 3-M product is not bullet-resistant, it will hold shattered glass in place. Superintendent’s Report

Couey told the Board that there are still a few loose ends yet to be resolved with the school’s construction contractor JCI/Lentile for finish work at the new school, including landscaping. “They have planted grass three times and can’t get grass to grow,” she said, noting that the next step is getting sod and irrigation installed. She noted that other pending work — replacement of the front steps and signage — were accomplished recently. She said that the second floor of the new school has had air conditioning issues recently, with inside temperatures climbing into the high 70s. She said she has communicated with the contractor and HVAC subcontractor concerning adjusting the computerized AC system, and has been advised that other schools are having the same problems because of the intense summer heat. She was advised that beginning the cooling process at 4 a.m. every school day might resolve the matter, and that is being implemented immediately.

One day of school was cancelled on Friday, August 11, due to an issue with the City of Alamo’s water system, to which the Wheeler County School is connected. Apparently, a problem was detected at the Wheeler Correctional Facility well, also tied into the city system, which caused the Environmental Protection Division to issue a boiled water alert for the entire City of Alamo for a short period of time. Couey said the local health department recommended closing the school and cafeteria (hence the cancellation of school) and advised the school to drain water coolers and ice makers upon returning to school. The matter was resolved and the school reopened as usual for classes on Monday, August 14.

Personnel Changes

The Board approved the following personnel recommendations: • Hal Ford, who retired recently and returned to work this school year part time at 49% of his retirement salary as Transportation Director, will be allowed to work for two or three months full-time.

• DeAna Soriano, Brit tany Ford, and Yvonne Rivers were approved as paraprofessionals; • Brandi Walker and Jacqueline Gooch were hired as substitute classroom instructors.

• Keyboard instruc tor Drucilla Dallis was approved for a supplement of $2,500.

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