At its monthly meeting, held Monday, April 15, 2019, the Greene County Board of Education received an initial report from Alabama Association of School Boards consultant Dr. Linda Ingram, on the surveys conducted regarding the board’s superintendent search. Dr. Ingram reported that the 90+ respondents of students, board employees, parents and general community who completed the Stakeholders Survey focused on student achievement as a primary expectation of the new school superintendent. The survey results also indicated that a high majority of all respondents preferred that the board select a qualified person not currently employed with the Greene County School System; a high majority felt that the superintendent did not have to hold a doctorate degree but should have previous administrative experience; and that the superintendent should be articulate and able to communicate with different groups of people. The complete survey results of all the respondent categories will be made available to the public on the school system’s website. To access the website, go to greene.k12.al.us.
The dateline for applying for the superintendent’s position with the Greene County Schools is Friday, April 19. The applicants will be screened, with qualification, background and reference checks by AASB. The finalists will be submitted to the board by April 30. Individual interviews will be arranged beginning May 6. The board will conduct public interviews of the candidates and make the final decision.
Among the administrative items acted on, the board approved the sale of the former Paramount Jr. High School with specific acreage to the Town of Boligee. Action on the sale of Mt. Hebron Pre-school to the Mt. Hebron Community Coalition was postponed pending additional information.
The board acted on the following personnel items:
Approved resignations of Mary Henderson, as Part-time Secretary, Greene County Career Center, effective April 26, 2019; Elroy Skinner, as Math Teacher, Greene County High School, effective May 24, 2019.
*Approved retirement of Lillian Lewis, as Librarian, Greene County High School, effective May 24, 2019.
Approved employment of Twelia Morris, as Part-time Secretary at Greene County Career Center, and Part-time Secretary at Robert Brown Middle School.
Approved re-hiring Latoya Consentine, as School Bus Driver, Department of Transportation.
Approved Family Medical Leaves for Sigfried Williams, Music Teacher, Greene County High School, beginning April 8, 2019, through April 29, 2019; Michael Bolton, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation, beginning March 29, 2019 through May 6, 2019.
Approved supplemental contract for Siegfried Williams for duties performed outside regular contract.
In other business the board approved health policies; declared an emergency for boiler replacement at Robert Brown Middle School; approved request by Mr. Fredrick Square to attend National Conference on School Safety; approved payment of all bills, claims and payroll; approved implementing a computer science course as a requirement for all students graduating from Greene County High School, commencing with 2019-2020 School year.
Tuesday, April 9, 2019, Greene County Probate Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth signed a proclamation declaring April National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The proclamation reads as follows:
Whereas, National Child Abuse Prevention Month will be recognized throughout the United States, as well as in the Commonwealth of Alabama during the month of April, 2019; and Whereas, the Greene County Department of Human Resources, other human services, Greene County Public Schools and community partners work together to strengthen and support families and protect children from abuse and neglect, and; Whereas Greene County’s Child Protective Services’ 24-hour hotline received hundreds of calls in Fiscal Year 2018, many from people seeking help, guidance and referrals to parenting programs and supportive services; and Whereas, assisting children and families early makes common sense as well as fiscal sense. In addition to saving people the trauma of more intensive services later, prevention and early intervention services save money; and Whereas, the focus for the 2019 Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Campaign is to raise public awareness about child supervision and keeping children safe; and Whereas, all Greene County residents, community agencies, faith groups, and businesses are encouraged to renew their commitment to preventing child abuse and promoting the safety and well-being of children; and
Now, therefore I, honorable Judge Roland Wedgeworth do hereby proclaim the month of April 2019 as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Greene County and urge all citizen to increase their participations in our efforts to prevent child abuse and strengthen our community.
Probate Judge of
Greene County, AL
At their regular meeting on Monday April 8, 2019, the Greene County Commission took action to clarify the renewals of two one-cent sales taxes for the Board of Education to 2040.
The County Commission approved two one cent sales taxes for education, one in 1986 and 1993, for a total of two cents out of the three cents of sales tax that comes to the Greene County Commission. One of these taxes was extended for thirty years in 2009 but it was unclear which tax had been extended.
Monday’s action by the Commission, extended both one-cent taxes, for a total of two cents, to 2040 for education of Greene County students. This is not a change or an increase just a change in the confirmation that both education taxes will run together until 2040.
The remaining one-cent of the three-cent sales tax goes to the Greene County Hospital. That tax runs through 2027 and is pledged to pay for a bond issue that the facility used to pay debts and continue operations.
Paula Bird, CFO of the County gave the monthly financial report for March 31, 2019, the half way point of the fiscal year. She indicated that the Commission had $5,661,662 in various funds in local banks and an additional $1.3 million in banks to cover bond issues.
She also reported that revenues and expenditures for the various funds were in line with the budget and were at or close to the 50% mark puts them in comp-liance with the half-year mark of the budget.
The Commission approved payment of $657,000 of claims for the month, including $212,300 from the General Fund. $102,700 in amendments to the budget were approved. These changes were internal rearrangements of funds not an increase.
In other actions, the Greene County Commission:
• Approved a Sales Tax Holiday for back-to-school supplies and clothing scheduled for July 19-21, 2019
• Approved liquor licenses for DOCS Bar and Lounge on the Lower Gainesville Road
• Approved advertising to hire a Clerk for the Judge of Probate; and a Van Driver for the senior nutrition sites.
After an Executive Session to consider legal matters, the Commission returned and voted to support the Sheriff in settling a claim with Great Western Development Corporation.
More details on this legal settlement will be available once the full settlement is reached with all involved parties.
Three historically Black churches in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana were burned between March 26 and April 4, 2019. State Fire marshals
and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are investigating the cause of the fires.
The fires destroyed St. Mary Baptist Church in the community of Port Barre, and Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas, the parish seat.
The churches in rural St. Landry Parish -- about 30 miles north of Lafayette -- have burned since March 26 in what officials have described as "suspicious circumstances."
"There is clearly something happening in this community," State Fire Marshal H. Browning said in a statement.
Standing outside the charred remains of the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas — which burned on Tuesday — Pastor Harry Richard said he looked forward to meeting elsewhere with his congregation on Sunday.
"Quite naturally, something like this would shake us up," he told CNN affiliate KLFY. "I'm very concerned but I'm very optimistic because of our faith in God and, no matter what happens, I feel like this is his plan," Richard said. "He's going to bring me through this."
The first fire occurred March 26 at St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre. Greater Union burned on Tuesday and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, also in Opelousas, suffered a fire on Thursday.
"We believe these three fires are suspicious," Browning said. "We are falling short of talking about what caused the fires, falling short of saying they are related, however cognizant that there is a problem and no coincidence that there are three fires."
Officials were also investigating a fourth, smaller fire last Sunday at the predominantly white Vivian United Pentecostal Church in Caddo Parish more than 200 miles north of St. Landry. The blaze was intentionally set
"The three fires in St. Landry Parish contain suspicious elements, but we have not yet classified them," said Ashley Rodrigue, a spokeswoman for the state fire marshal.
Gov. John Bell Edwards this week appealed for the public's help with the investigations. "Our churches are sacred, central parts of our communities and everyone should feel safe in their place of worship, " he said in a statement. "We do not know the cause of these fires in St. Landry and Caddo parishes, but my heart goes out to each of the congregations and all of those who call these churches home."
Law enforcement presence increases at houses of worship
Browning said the remains of the three historically black churches in St. Landry Parish are considered crime scenes.
“Investigating a fire is a very lengthy process,” he said. “It’s one of the most complicated and unconventional crime scenes you’ll ever enter because most of the evidence is burned away.
The FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting in the investigations. “It’s imperative that the citizens of this community be part of our effort to figure out what it is,” Browning said.
St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said authorities were "doing everything we can" to protect churches and determine the cause of the fires. Law enforcement presence at houses of worship has increased.
"You got to have a certain degree of anger because there's no reason for this," Deacon Earnest Hines of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas told CNN affiliate WBRZ.
"You know the history of our country. During the civil rights struggle, they had all these incidents that would happen and sometimes that happens again," he said.
Richard told CNN affiliate KATC Greater Union Baptist Church embodied more than 100 years of history. "Our parents, grandparents went here," he said. "Buried in the back there, some of them are."
On Sunday, he told KLFY he planned to preach about God’s grace to his displaced congregation.
This incident of burning Black churches reminds people in Greene County, Alabama of 1995 when five Black churches in rural parts of the county were burned.
Apr. 8, 2019 (GIN) – The 112 girls kidnapped from a boarding school in Nigeria and still being held by Boko Haram will have spent five years in captivity if they are not released by next Sunday.
That was the sad message released by members of the Bring Back Our Girls movement who have been urging more action by the Nigerian government to locate and free the girls.
Over 200 students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State were abducted by the terrorists on the night of April 14, 2014.
Over a hundred of them were released following pressure from the federal government, the intervention of activist Nigerians and the International Red Cross.
The girls have already spent 1,819 days in Boko Haram captivity. “This is not a date we ever imagined we would come to”, they wrote on a social media platform.
Four of the young women who managed to escape from the kidnappers now study at Dickenson College in Pennsylvania. The students are all on full scholarship funded by the Nigerian government’s Victim Support Fund and the Murtala Mohammed Foundation.
Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, a drama entitled “The Chibok Girls: Our Story” will be presented at the CrossCurrents festival on selected dates in April and May. Nigerian poet-dramatist Soyinka, now 84, will appear alongside Nigeria’s Renegade Theatre for the performance.
“Chibok Girls” was written and directed by Wole Oguntokun, Artistic Director of Renegade Theatre and Founder of Theatre Republic.
In a related development, the Nigeria Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa program, documents and maps violence in Nigeria that is motivated by political, economic, or social grievances. The tracker can be viewed at the website: https://www.cfr.org/nigeria/nigeria-security-tracker/p29483
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia
A new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) provides insight on how decades of structural racism within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has led to the virtual elimination of black farmers. A century ago, roughly 14 percent of farmers were black. By 2012, that number had shrunk to 1.58 percent, according to the report, “Progressive Governance Can Turn the Tide for Black Farmers,” by Abril Castro and Zoe Willingham. The study examined the ways in which discriminatory policies by the U.S. government, and especially the USDA, throughout the 20th century and up to the Trump era have led to the elimination of black farmers. The authors said they found that black farmers have had less access to credit and less access to extension programs than their white counterparts, preventing black farmers from modernizing and scaling up their farms as white farmers have done. The loss of black farmland has had a profound impact on rural black communities, which today suffer from severe economic challenges, among them a poverty rate twice that of rural white communities. “This report illustrates the importance of understanding American history and the impact of systematic racism in our agricultural system,” Danyelle Solomon, vice president of Race and Ethnicity Policy at CAP, said in a news release. The report gives several policy recommendations for protecting the livelihoods of black farmers: · Protecting inherited family farms · Expanding research and technical assistance for farmers of color · Regular oversight and audits of the USDA by the Government Accountability Office · Expanding access to land for black farmers “As the report notes, black farmers were systematically removed from the farming industry through government policy and practices,” Solomon said. Between 1920 and 2007, black farmers lost 80 percent of their land, according to the report. “Moving forward, policymakers must ensure that agricultural policy includes targeted and intentional policies that correct these harms by expanding access to land and technical resources for black farmers,” Solomon said.
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Every budget defines priorities and values. To put it another way, what’s really important in life gets supported financially. For many families, having a home, food, and utilities usually rank pretty high. Then there are other budgetary concerns like saving for college or having a ‘rainy day’ fund to cover less frequent costs that can be much higher than the size of the next pay check.
Government budgets, built on taxpayer dollars, also reveal priorities. At the federal level, budgets are proposed by the executive branch, but it is the legislative branch that passes and funds budgets. What is in the best interest of the nation is supposed to be the guiding force in government budgets.
But as Sportin’ Life sang in the folk opera Porgy and Bess, “It ain’t necessarily so”.
The White House’s FY 2020 proposal cuts Education funding by $62 billion compared to that of FY 2019. Even worse, as the cost of higher education continues to climb, federal student aid would be seriously slashed while other programs would be totally eliminated.
Some of the most disturbing college federal cuts affect programs that lessen the amount of student loans that need to be borrowed for every academic term. As rising college costs have worsened the financial challenge faced by many Black and other low-wealth families, the availability of grant programs that do not have to be repaid and/or work-study programs are key sources for many college students and their families.
Among its many revisions, the Trump Administration stands ready to risk a sizeable portion of the proposed $7.25 billion in Pell Grant funding next year. This program is the single largest source of grant aid for low-income households for post-secondary education.
On March 26, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Education budget was the focus of a hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor-Health and Human Services-Education. Secretary Betsy Devos delivered testimonythat expanded upon previously released materials from the Trump Administration.
“Since President Trump took office, Congressional appropriations for U.S. Department of Education programs have increased dramatically – in spite of the Administration’s call to slow spending,” said Secretary DeVos. “We are not doing our children any favors when we borrow from their future in order to invest in systems and policies that are not yielding better results.”
In response, Connecticut’s Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the subcommittee chairwoman did not mince words. “This budget underfunds education at every turn”, said DeLauro who added “This budget inflicts harm.”
Even Rep. Tom Cole from Oklahoma who serves as the subcommittee’s Ranking Member viewed the White House proposal as “short-sighted”.
Representatives DeLauro and Cole were absolutely correct.
The Work-Study program that brings campus-based jobs to students would suffer a double blow. Its monies would be reduced by 55 percent and remaining funds would be shared with proposed pilot program that targeted to private sector employers for workforce development of nontraditional and low-income students. That’s the window dressing on these cuts.
The Work-Study program that received over $1.2 billion in 2019 would be cut to $500.4 million. Secondly, instead of students working on campus, they would need to figure out how to reach employment at private business.
Not every student has a car. Nor is public transit always available near college campuses. These businesses would supplement their revenue streams with public monies but the profits derived would still be private. Previously, Work-Study was jointly funded by the federal government paying 75 percent of hourly wages, with the remaining 25 percent paid by the college employer.
What for-profit business wouldn’t want the government to pick up 75 percent of its labor costs? Seems that the private business – not the student – is the greater concern with this budget.
“Betsy DeVos has some explaining to do – her disinterest in prioritizing quality and affordable education for students is disheartening and erodes the confidence the public has in the Department of Education,” said Debbie Goldstein, an EVP with the Center for Responsible Lending.
Currently, the formula-based Pell Grant award averages $4,251 per participating student. Next year as proposed, the program’s average award will be slightly less at $4,149 and traditional grant recipient students would be forced to share those funds with others enrolled in workforce development training that does not accrue credit hours or traditional academic terms.
Regular readers of this column may recall, many career and technical training institutions are also for-profit entities that in recent years have either failed to provide the training promised, or the earnings assured by admissions personnel – or both. In the worst-case scenarios, tens of thousands of students have been enrolled at the time of closures that came with little or no notice.
The Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant is need-based and financially helps low-income, undergraduate students. For the past two fiscal years, this program was funded at $1.7 billion. If the Trump Administration’s proposal holds, no monies will support this program next year.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants are available to students whose parent or guardian was a member of the Armed Forces and died as a result of their military deployment in either Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. In FY 2019, the average grant in this program was $5,293. In FY 2020, the White House would end it with no appropriation.
These are only a few of the cuts proposed to higher education at a time when education is more important today than ever before. The global economy requires a highly-skilled and knowledgeable workforce. It seems so ironic that this White House keeps placing businesses before the needs of people.
“Instead of punishing for-profit institutions that have deceived students and encouraged them to take on unaffordable levels of student debt, Secretary DeVos will defend President Trump’s proposal to extend taxpayer money to finance unproven short-term programs, many of which will be offered by these very same for-profit college,” added Goldstein.
Here’s hoping that Congress will hear a loud outcry on gutting federal financial aid. Enacting a budget that represents the needs of people should and must prevail.
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia
While every Census faces challenges and even controversies, the count remains important because it’s the federal government’s very first responsibility to the U.S. Constitution, the cornerstone of the nation’s representative democracy and America’s largest peacetime activity, said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a consultant to many census stakeholders and former staff director for the U.S. House Subcommittee on Census and Population. However, Lowenthal believes the 2020 Census is heading into “a perfect storm.” “I think of unprecedented factors that could thwart a successful enumeration – one that counts all communities equally well,” said Lowenthal, who consults on The Census Project, a collaboration of business and industry associations; civil rights advocates; state and local governments; social service agencies; researchers and scientific societies; planners; foundations; and nonprofits focused on housing, child and family welfare, education, transportation, and other vital services. “The risks include cyber-threats foreign and domestic, IT failures, weather events that have become more extreme, disinformation campaigns, and the unknown consequences of adding a new, untested citizenship question,” she said. The official kick-off to the 2020 Census begins Monday, April 1 in Washington where the U.S. Census Bureau will host a live operational press briefing to mark the one-year out milestone from the 2020 Census. Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham and others in leadership plan to brief the public on the status of operations and provide updates on the success of the integrated partnership and communication campaign. Lowenthal said the unknown consequences of adding a new, untested citizenship question are among the growing challenges facing the 2020 Census. This question is before Federal courts and will be resolved before next year’s Census. She noted other challenges including consistent underfunding and President Trump’s budget request for next year, which is well below the amount needed; distrust of government at many levels; and fear among immigrants that their census responses will be used to harm them and their families. “An inclusive, accurate census is especially important for Black Americans and other people of color,” Lowenthal said. “The census determines the distribution of political power, from Congress, to state legislatures, to city councils and school boards, and guides the allocation of almost $9 trillion over the decade in federal assistance to states and communities for hospitals, public transit, school facilities, veterans services, Medicaid, school lunches, and many other vital services,” she said. Unfortunately, advocates say the census is not an equal opportunity enumeration. Scientific yardsticks since 1940 reveal that the census misses Black Americans at disproportionately high rates, especially Black men ages 18 to 49 and Black children under age five. “At the same time, the census over-counted non-Hispanic Whites in 2000 and 2010. And because the people who are more likely to be missed do not live in the same neighborhoods as those more likely to be double-counted, some communities get more than their fair share of political representation and resources, while others get less than they deserve and need,” Lowenthal said, adding that we then must live with those results for the next ten years. The Census is a civil rights issue with huge implications for everyone, particularly people of color, added Beth Lynk, the director of the Census Counts Campaign at The Leadership Conference Education Fund. “Census data are used to draw congressional district lines and help determine the amount of federal funding communities receive for programs like Head Start and SNAP,” Lynk said. “Communities that are missing from the census lose out on what they need to stay safe and healthy. Unfortunately, Black people and Latinos are considered to be harder to count, and accurately counting these populations takes a focused effort,” she said. Lynk added: “That’s why it’s critical that local governments and community organizations educate their own constituents and members and encourage them to be counted.” Census data are inherently personal; the data record and codify individual stories, and help to paint a mosaic of rich racial, ethnic, cultural, and geographic identities, said Jason Jurjevich, Assistant Director of the Population Research Center, a research institute in the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University in Oregon. “Telling the story of diverse communities, including individuals of color, requires a fair and accurate count,” Jurjevich said. “As with any census, an all too common obstacle is that some individuals are excluded, resulting in an undercount. In the 2010 Census, considered one of the most accurate censuses in recent American history, 1.5 percent of Hispanics and 2.1 percent of African-Americans were undercounted,” he said. Jurjevich added that among African-American men, ages 30 to 49, the undercount was much higher, at 10.1 percent. The decennial census is the one chance, every ten years, to stand up and be counted, Jurjevich added. Also, he noted that Census 2020 will offer the first-ever online response option, which could improve census response rates and, at the same time, numerous challenges and barriers will likely make it more difficult to count Americans in the 2020 Census. “This means that communities will need to organize and address on-the-ground challenges like the proposed citizenship question, increasing public distrust in government, growing fears among immigrants about the current sociopolitical climate, the first-ever online response option and concerns around the digital divide and security of personal data, and inconsistent and insufficient federal funding,” Jurjevich said.
By: Herbert G. McCann and Sara Burnett, Associated Press
Lori Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago
CHICAGO — Former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot defeated a longtime political insider Tuesday to become Chicago's next mayor, the first black woman and openly gay person to lead the nation's third-largest city.
Lightfoot, who had never been elected to public office, easily defeated Toni Preckwinkle, who served in the City Council for 19 years before becoming Cook County Board president. Preckwinkle also is chairwoman of the county Democratic Party.
Lightfoot promised to rid City Hall of corruption and help low-income and working-class people she said had been “left behind and ignored” by Chicago’s political ruling class. It was a message that resonated with voters weary of political scandal and insider deals, and who said the city’s leaders for too long have invested in downtown at the expense of neighborhoods.
Chicago will become the largest U.S. city to have a black woman serve as mayor when Lightfoot is sworn in May 20. She will join seven other black women currently serving as mayors in major U.S. cities, including Atlanta and New Orleans and will be the second woman to lead Chicago.
Lightfoot, 56, and her wife have one daughter.
Thursday, March 21, 2019 the Greene County Sheriff Department reported a total distribution of $372,455 for the month of February, 2019 from the five licensed gaming operations in the county. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System). Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $65,000 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $5,000.
Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500.
River’s Edge (NNL – Next Level Leaders and TCCTP – Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,125 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System, $13,125.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $99,330 to the following: Greene County Commission, $4,620; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $36,960; City of Eutaw, $27,720; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,620; Greene County Board of Education, $4,620 and the Greene County Health System, $11,550.