Willie Fluellen attended his final meeting as a member of the board Dec. 9 and was honored by his fellow board members, teachers, administrators, and his family.
The meeting began with a presentation by Jana Harrell concerning a charter school she is planning to open in Jones County. The school would be open to the public with a focus on fine arts.
A possible opening date for the school is 2010, and Harrell presented the board with a letter of intent.
Superintendent Jim LeBrun announced that the date of Dec. 16 was set for the groundbreaking of the new elementary school on Turnerwoods Road. The event was previously delayed because of the weather.
LeBrun said the delay allowed time for the driveway to be compacted, which is needed because the school site is a fair distance off the road. In an update to the school’s progress, the superintendent said a problem with an easement for the entrance was solved with a redesign for the acceleration and deceleration lanes. He said the school is on schedule.
LeBrun said the Jones County High School chorus is in its second year and performed at the governor’s mansion Dec. 16. The chorus also had its Christmas performance Dec. 11.
Tony Lowden gave a presentation to the board for the Campus Clubs founded by First Baptist Church in Macon. The organization has been in existence for 13 years.
“We started with three kids and now have 3,000. We have seven satellites and recently entered into a partnership with Bibb County schools,” Lowden said.
He said the program feeds students snacks and a hot meal and provides a hands-on science program.
“At 3 p.m. education stops. We’ve built huge computer labs, and New Jerusalem is ready to open here to work with kids that are at risk,” Lowden said.
He explained that the after-school program is geared to go along with school curriculum.
“Kids cannot get on the information highway without an on-ramp,” Lowden said. More information about the organization can be found at www.campusclubsus.org.
LeBrun said the after-school program is asking for referrals and transportation to the site.
The superintendent asked board members to consider allowing Board of Education employees to have the opportunity to pre-register their children to the Pre-K program. He said registration will begin in February, and the pre-registration will allow employees’ children to bypass the lottery implemented last year.
“I’m for it,” Board of Education member Larry Haskins stated. “I would like to see us give that benefit to our teachers.”
Haskins made the motion, and it passed unanimously.
LeBrun presented a plaque to Fluellen prior to a reception held in his honor. Fluellen has served as the representative of District Two since Jan. 1, 1987, and lost his re-election bid in November.
“You’ve been a friend to education, the county, and to us,” LeBrun said as he presented the plaque.
Haskins said he has enjoyed working with Fluellen, and Deloras Moon said she enjoyed their interesting discussions and getting lost at conferences.
Chairman Ted Stone said he has served with Fluellen during his years of service.
“I’ve been with you the whole time through good times and bad. You have been a blessing to us, and I am proud of your service,” he said.
Fluellen said it has been a pleasure to serve the county and the relationships between board members is second to none.
“We have disagreed without being disagreeable. I don’t know any board in Georgia that gets along as good as ours has,” he said. “I hope the board will continue to work together. The best is yet to come in Jones County.”
The boardroom was packed with Fluellen’s six children, nine grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
Following the reception, board members voted to name the driveway entering the new school from Turnerwoods Road Willie Fluellen Drive. The members also agreed to sponsor the Jan. 15 Jones County/Gray Business After Hours at the Continuing Education Center and to the disposal of outdated documents in accordance with the law.
Stone brought up the issue of Reduction of Force (RIF) and approved the procedures in the policy manual by Harbin and Hartley. The reason for reduction in force is the lack of funding and reorganization.
“RIF is not only about seniority but performance,” he said.
The chairman said the governor promised another $2.4 billion cut in the state budget in 2009, and Jones County has 57 teachers who are not state funded.
LeBrun said his goal is to balance the budget and not lay anyone off. He said not filling slots vacated by retirees is one way of reducing the work force. The superintendent said he has asked principals to hold down spending.
“Cuts will continue next year. We’ve heard that graduation coaches are possibly on the table. I understand everything is on the table,” he added.
LeBrun said possible furloughs for certified employees could save a great deal of money. He added that he would still like to have a job fair and has hope he will be able to hire some employees.
Stone said he does not want cuts to affect music and arts programs, which always seem to be the first places cuts are made.
Board members discussed reducing the price of tickets to elementary sporting events for students. Currently the price is $5, which can be a hardship for families who have several children.