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ried she is going to lose her house. I just say that to say this: the thing about the training that bothers me is that if you call it ‘training,’ it leaves [the citizens] out. It’s not good to leave citizens out,” she shared.

Page referred to her time as a teacher, as she explained that she took every opportunity to attend training and learn more about her career. “Almost everything I ever learned was a value to me in that classroom,” she told the Board. “I just have a problem with you leaving me out of training that would help all of us to understand this thing. It seems very secretive. I know the law – the law says you can call it ‘training,’ then you don’t have to invite the public. I know you can’t invite everybody, but to me, you could invite some people who are there for the right reasons.”

She continued, “I’m not here for the wrong reasons. My great-grandchildren are in this school system because I literally said to my granddaughter, ‘please, don’t send them to Vidalia – send them to where you’re going to live. Be a part of this community. Be a part of making it a better place for us – for the people who have lived here a long time and want to see a better us – not a better them, not a better him, not a better her, not a better you – a better us. I was not born in this community, I made 27 school moves by the time I was in the 10th grade and quit school. So, I don’t have any place that was really home [to me], but I call this place home, and that says something for this place. That says something for you folks. That says something for these folks.”

“I’m proud to be here,” Page added. “I want to be a part of it. I don’t want you to exclude me. I want to listen to the training, too. I want to hear what these people have to say. I’m not going to raise a ruckus – I’ll ask questions, but just think about that. Think about if you want to begin to exclude people in a time when we are – well, at least some people – in a rut with each other. I’m along for the ride; I’ll make a little noise, probably, but that’s what we should do as good citizens.”

Page emphasized, “Thank you for thinking about what I’m saying. Thank you for thinking to include everyone. I will be part of this because I want my great-grandchildren to get a great education. I’ve been through the cuts. I got cut to the Director of Alternative School – best cut I ever had. Thirteen kids graduated my first year, and we had not graduated one in years, so they didn’t cut me far. They cut me to a happy place.”

Rentz replied to Page’s concerns, informing her that the “Whole Board Training” referred to the three hours each year required by the Georgia School Board Association to train Board members on the elements of the school system. He, along with Chairman Henry Price, also clarified that the homestead exemption training which Page shared she was concerned about was not a training conducted by the Board of Education, but rather a training that the Montgomery County Commissioners had invited the Board to attend.

Price, Rentz, and Page engaged in a conversation which encouraged the citizens to continue to show up to meetings, speak their concerns, and take part in their local government. Suggestions were made to include the public in future planning and discussion sessions for the Board, such as the suggestion by Board member Fernando Rodriguez to provide more information to the public in a timely manner during the annual “Board Planning Retreat,” so that they may have a better chance of attending the event.

During the regular meeting of the Board, Amie Vassey again addressed Board members, asking them if there is anything that could have been said during the public hearings to change the planned action of the Board’s budget and millage rate. “Is there anything any taxpaying citizen could have said that would have mattered?” she emphasized.

Action Items

The FY24 Budget was officially approved by the Board, which has almost $2 million less of COVID relief funding than past years, and is expected to utilize 14.75 mills of property taxes. This millage rate will be voted on in a called meeting on August 31.

An update to “Board Policy DIB: Financial Reports” was adopted, as recommended by the Board’s attorney and state officials. This change includes capital assets, such as land and school buildings. This policy update was first presented at last month’s regular meeting of the Board, and sat on the table for public review for 30 days prior to the official vote.

The Board also approved the purchase of a Ford F-150 pickup truck to be utilized by the Superintendent and staff of the school system for any school-related travel. The vehicle will be bought from Paul Thigpen Chevrolet, which provided the lowest quote on the product.

Several personnel decisions were made, such as the acceptance of bus driver Rhonda Edge’s resignation, effective on August 2. Stephanie Peebles was hired as an elementary school in-school suspension (ISS) paraprofessional, Kailee Smith was approved as a second and third grade paraprofessional, and William Rowe was hired as an Alternative School teacher.

Several substitutes were approved, including substitute school food and nutrition workers Teresa Floyd and Taieisha Reese, and substitute teachers Rachea Holliway, Kimberly Dees, Terri Griggs, and Tracy Sailem, Jr. Sailem will also serve as a volunteer middle and high school basketball coach.

The Board added five days to high school counselor Rebecca Phillips’ contract to fulfill her counseling duties, while School Improvement Specialist Ginger Morris’ contract was increased to 220 days and Director of Communications Michael Lane’s contract was increased to 200 days. Board members also agreed to grant Emily Cartwright a $1,500 supplement for serving as an instructional coach at the elementary school.

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