School board picks three to oversee grant process

The Richmond County school board approved hiring three district employees to administer federal School Improvement Grants in three high schools.

 

The 8-0 votes came after a roughly 45-minute executive session during a called meeting Tuesday afternoon. Board members Jimmy Atkins and Eloise Curtis were absent.

The action had relatively little fanfare considering that the grants had previously drawn sharp protest and intense scrutiny, particularly concerning Laney High School's plan to replace half its staff and a $13,858 retreat by Laney staff at the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Oconee, Ga.

Laney, Josey and Glenn Hills high schools all were awarded School Improvement Grants of more than $1 million earlier this year.

The grants are part of a $3.5 billion stimulus-funded program designed to turn around the nation's lowest-performing schools, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

In separate votes, the board named:

- Dr. Jackie Hayes, the district's pre-kindergarten coordinator, as the grants coordinator

- Teresa Jones, the assistant principal at Josey, as the grants' technology specialist

- Dr. Gail Bell, who works with the district's social work program, as the grant's dropout-prevention specialist, assigned to Glenn Hills

- Elayne Jackson, the assistant principal at Laney, to fill the assistant principal's position at Josey being vacated by Jones.

The changes will officially take place "within the next couple of weeks," Superintendent Frank Roberson said after the meeting.

The positions are required as part of the grant, Roberson said, and were not done in reaction to the criticism surrounding Laney's staffing changes or its retreat.

Norman Hill, the system's chief human resources officer, explained after the board emerged from executive session that panels consisting of district staff and community members, including a former Georgia Department of Education official and the technology director for Augusta-Richmond County, interviewed candidates for each of the grant's positions.

The panels placed emphasis on each person's past accomplishments.

Roberson started as superintendent while this process was taking place. Even so, he said after the meeting that he was pleased with the people chosen for each of the administrative positions.

"I'm impressed with the level of skills that each person brings to their particular area of responsibility," he said.

The applications

- To see Glenn Hills High School's School Improvement Grant application, go to tiny.cc/ro8ij.

- To see Josey High School's application, go to tiny.cc/tp433.

- To see Laney High School's application, go to tinyurl.com/2bl6s5y.

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