SOS National Day of Prayer Caravan holds prayer at Governor’s Mansion

Prayers of protest leaders to Expand Medicaid, Increase Testing and Save Lives
Montgomery, AL – The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy held a caravan on May 7, 2020 with numerous cars circling the Alabama Governor’s Mansion downtown to urge Governor Ivey and others to expand Medicaid, save rural hospitals and focus COVID-19 resources to those most in need. After circling the Governor’s Mansion in downtown Montgomery, instead of the usual press conference, leaders held a prayer conference. Leaders were asked to take one minute or less to address their issues in uplifted prayer.
Attorney Hank Sanders said: “I pray that God will open the minds and hearts of Governor Ivey and other Alabama leaders so that they will immediately implement the expansion of Medicaid and will focus the pandemic resources to those most in need. I pray that God will strengthen the hand of the Governor so with a stroke of the pen she will expand Medicaid. I pray that those who are protesting to open up Alabama economically will also pray that the Governor will open Medicaid expansion in our state.”
World Conference of Mayors Founder Johnny Ford said: “I pray that our national leaders will do whatever it takes to limit the deaths and number of people who are getting the coronavirus. I pray that they will open back up the window for Medicaid coverage so people who now qualify can become covered.”
Civil Rights Advocate Attorney Faya Toure said: “I pray that people whose workplaces are too dangerous will not be forced to work and they will be able to get unemployment benefits if they choose not to work as a result of unsafe work environments. They should not have to choose between work with the possibility of death and survival – both physically and economically.”
Chair of the Greene County Health System, John Zippert, said: “I prevail upon state leaders to save rural hospitals, not only during this pandemic but also from now on. Rural hospitals must be strengthened economically, staff wise and in every way so they can keep serving the people of rural Alabama and other areas.”
Community Advocate Karen Jones said: “I pray the state will truly embrace testing and tracing, so that everyone who wants to get tested can do so without cost and so that people will know when they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive. I pray this because for Alabama to safely open, we must have available testing and tracing for all.
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “I prevail upon the leaders of Alabama not to forget those in jails and prisons. I ask that their hearts will be touched in a way that they will let those who are not dangerous to the public out of prisons and jails and those who are in jails but have not been convicted out while they are pending trial. I ask that prison and jail sentences will not be death sentences because of COVID-19 as both prisons and jails have become hotspots for the virus. I urge our leaders act to save lives.”
During the SOS National Day of Prayer Caravan and Prayer Conference at the Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery, black and white balloons were again tied to the cars in the caravan and released at the end of the prayer conference in recognition of the lives lost and the lives in jeopardy in Alabama right now.
For more information, contact the SOS Movement for Justice and Democracy website and Facebook page.

School board holds virtual meeting, superintendent gives update on academics and food distribution

The Greene County Board of Education held a virtual meeting, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, on Monday, April 20, 2020. Board members Carol Zippert, Kashaya Cockrell, Carrie Dancy, Leo Branch and William Morgan were participants including Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, Attorney Hank Sanders, CSFO LaVonda Blair and central office staff, Sara Hall and Makane Morrow.
The board minutes of February 18 and the emergency meeting on March 19 were approved with necessary corrections.
A key element of Superintendent Jones’ report was an update on the various school activities affected by COVID-19. Dr. Jones reported that the Child Nutrition Program (CNP) staff continues to prepare meals for pick-up. He noted that the maintenance department, administrators, central office staff and other volunteers have been of great assistance to the CNP staff.
Meals pick-up have been limited to once per week as a safety measure for staff and community, however, the school system continues to provide the same number of meals per week per child. The superintendent stated that between March 23 and April 17, 38,534 meals were delivered.
According to Dr. Jones, educational packets are delivered to each student with some students getting the lessons electronically and others, not having devices and internet access, receiving their materials in hard copy. He stated that teachers are instructed to communicate with students on a regular basis and to document all contacts. The superintendent meets virtually each week with his administrative staff.
Jones noted that the school system is in the process of securing additional devices, such as tablets, for students use. “The school system will continue to utilize electronic devices in conducting students educational program, beyond this pandemic crisis,” he said.
The superintendent reported that the maintenance department is still caring for the grounds and equipment. In efforts to keep the school facilities sanitized, mist sprays are used and sanitation stations are set up for classrooms and hallways.
The board approved the following personnel items recommended by the superintendent.
*Family medical leave for Felecia Davis, effective February 28, 2020 – May 25, 2020.
*Retirement of Rosie Davis and Linda Underwood, CNP Eutaw Primary School, effective June 1, 2020.
*Supplemental employment of Siegfried Williams, Choir Director, Greene County High School, for 2019-2020 school term.
*Non-Renewals: Sandra Artis, Pre-K teacher, Eutaw Primary School; Chardell Fredd, 7&8th grade teacher, Robert Brown Middle School; and Latausha Tinker-Mitchell, 5th grade science teacher, Robert Brown Middle School.
The board approved the following administrative services recommended by the superintendent.
*Hiring a company to replace roof at central office.
*Settlement agreement for Special Education Student, Robert Brown Middle School.
*Greene County Board of Education Organizational Chart.
*Greene County Schools Calendar for 2020-2021 School year.
*Budget Amendments.
*Payment of bills, claims and payroll.
The CSFO LaVonda Blair presented the financial reports for January and February. The financial snapshot for January included the following: General Fund Balance totaled $2,853,365.21 (reconciles with the Summary Cash Report); Check Register Accountability Report – $271,840.76 (total checks written for the period); Payroll Register – $841,714.73; Combined Fund Balance – $5,244,001.59. Local revenue totaled $2,094,621.60 (December and January).
Financial snapshot for February included the following: General Fund Balance totaled $2,630,649.43 (reconciles with Summary Cash Report); Check Register Accountability Report – $293,831.01 ( total checks written for the period); Payroll Register – $841,864.72; Combined Fund Balance – $5,171,697.17. Local revenue totaled $169,259.01.
CSFO Blair noted that the system is experiencing a delay in revenue stream, a decrease in sales tax and a stoppage in bingo income. She stated that all full time staff will continue to be paid and bills are paid on a timely basis. Blair noted that the budget adjustment before the board relate to $145,000 carryover in Title I and new revenue in various grants.
Attorney Hank Sanders reported generally on various legal matters pending before the board, indicating that several hearing dates have been extended due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The board approved hiring Attorney Robert Turner, Jr. to represent Superintendent Jones at the scheduled hearing for Joe N. Webb.

Greene County Commission and Sheriff Benison reach temporary solution on support for 11 additional employees

The Greene County Commission and Sheriff Jonathan Benison have reached a temporary solution regarding the suspended pay for the 11 additional employees in the sheriff’s department.
Immediately following the Greene County Commission’s work session on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, Commission Chairperson Allen Turner, Jr. and Commissioner Roshanda Summerville met with Sheriff Benison to discuss the funds needed for the 11 employees from the Sheriff’s department and other requirements. Attorney Hank Sanders advised Chairperson Turner, mainly by telephone.
As the commissioners and the sheriff deliberated, the session did get heated. Emotions were high. They could be heard by those waiting outside the conference room.
According to an earlier signed agreement between the commission and the sheriff, additional bingo funds from the sheriff would be provided to the county to support the additional 11 employees the sheriff wanted for his department and other requirements. To that date, no additional funds from the sheriff for this purpose had been provided to the commission during this fiscal year which began Oct. 1, 2020.
For the first three months of the fiscal year, the commission transferred funds from other line items of the Sheriff’s department budget to support his additional employees. According to commission records, the sheriff’s county budget does not have funds for any additional transfers. Approximately $153,000 was necessary to meet the payroll of the 11 employees plus overtime and other requirements due for January.
According to the county commission’s records, at the Feb. 5 meeting, the sheriff offered the county a partial payment of $26,666. The commissioners responded that this was unacceptable and following more discussions, the Sheriff added another payment of $18,342 and assured the commission that the balance to make up the $153,000 would be given to the county by Friday, Feb. 7.
The commission, seemingly trusting the Sheriff, released the payroll to the 11 employees, many of whom had gathered awaiting the solution from this session. At the close of business day on Friday, Feb. 7, the county had not received any more bingo funds from the sheriff.
On Monday afternoon, Feb. 10, the county commission received two separate payments from the sheriff’s bingo funds, one for $43,042.56 and one for $32,832,18. Minutes before the commission’s monthly meeting was to begin that evening, the sheriff delivered the final payment of $32,333.26, satisfying the $153,215.44 needed for the suspended January payroll and other requirements. However, this will not cover payroll for the sheriff’s additional 11 employees for the month of February and beyond.
There remain concerns that this same situation is going to repeat itself.

School board re-elects Branch as President and Zippert as Vice President

At its annual re-organizational meeting held, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, the Greene County Board of Education elected the same officers to serve for the next year: Mr. Leo Branch as President and Dr. Carol P. Zippert as Vice President. The election of board officers was conducted by Attorney Hank Sanders who explained that the officers could be selected through the nomination process or by a motion and second. The latter was selected and the motion to re-elect the current officers was made by board member William Morgan, with a second by board member Carol Zippert. The motion passed on a vote of 3 to 1. Only four of the five school board members were present. The board agreed to maintain its same meeting schedule: Third Monday of each month at 4:30 pm. In his report to the board, Superintendent James Carter announced that the State Department of Education will be conducting a Comprehensive Review of the Greene County School System, which will include a review of all programs. This is a federally mandated review that is routinely conducted of all school systems within a three to five year schedule. The team from the state will review policies, visit classrooms, conduct interviews with administrators, teachers, and other school personnel, students and parents. The Comprehensive Review will be conducted November 26-30, 2018. Dr. Carter also reported that the Greene County School System is one of the first in the state to include a coding program for students. This will enable students to create various robotic instruments and components as well as develop systems by the time they are ready to graduate. In other business, the board approved the following personnel items: Resignations of Cardelia Paige as 5th Grade Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School and Cassandra Burton as Math Teacher at Greene County High School. Employment: Ann Spree as Math Tutor at Greene County High; Elroy Skinner as Math Teacher at Greene County High; and Jacqueline Carter as 5th Grade Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School.

The board approved the following Administrative Services recommended by the superintendent: * Request approval to survey and appraise Birdine School property. * Request approval for Makane Morrow to travel to Howard Computer Technology in Mississippi. * Approval of Contract with West Central Official Association of York, Alabama for Girls Basketball Officials during the 2018 -2019 school term. * Approval of Contract with West Central Official Association of York, Alabama for Boys Basketball Officials during the 2018 -2019 school term. * Request approval of field trip for Debate Team to travel to Kennesaw State University to compete in a 2-day event, March 2019. * Request approval of field trip, for Debate Team, to travel to Mississippi State University, to compete in a 2-day event February 2019. * Approval of Bid for fuel from Pruett Oil Company for Department of Transportation. * Approval of 2.5 % raise for LaVonda Blair, CSFO. * Approval to pay cost of T-Mobile connectivity for students in Greene County School District. Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll. The meeting adjourned with no comments from the public.

Board meeting delayed over non-approval of agenda; board selects personnel for 2nd year 21st Century Community Learning Centers

At the regular meeting of the Greene County Board of Education, Monday, September 17, 2018, there was an unexpected delay in implementing the formal meeting. Following the usual protocol of the Call to Order, Invocation, Roll Call and Welcome to Visitors, Board President Leo Branch asked for a motion for adoption of the Agenda. Carol P. Zippert, Board Vice President, moved that the agenda be adopted as presented. With four of the board members present, there was no second offered for that motion. Board Attorney Hank Sanders advised that the meeting could not continue without an agenda. Board Member Carrie Dancy remarked that she did not agree with everything on the agenda. Zippert responded that the agenda is only a guide for the meeting. All recommended items have to be voted on. Board member William Morgan stated that he was told that there would be a new agenda. Superintendent Carter responded that he did not speak with Morgan or anyone about providing a new agenda. Morgan would not disclose who advised him that a new agenda would be provided. Board Member Kashaya Cockrell arrived for the meeting during the discussion of the agenda. President Branch brought her up to date and noted that we needed a second on the motion for adoption of the agenda. Zippert offered another motion for adoption and board member Cockrell seconded. The motion passed on a 3 to 2 vote. The meeting continued in an orderly manner. Following an executive session, the full board approved the following personnel items recommended by Superintendent Carter, except for three set-aside items which passed on a vote 4 to1. * For the 21st Century Extended Day Program, Robert Brown Middle School: Andrea Perry, Director; Drenda Morton, Lead Teacher; Miakka Taylor, Teacher; Raven Bryant, Teacher; Felecia Smith, Teacher; Vanessa Bryant, Teacher; Twelia Morris, Teacher Assistant. * For 21st Century Extended Day Program, Eutaw Primary School: Keisha Williams, Lead Teacher; Pamela Pasteur, Teacher; Temeshia Abrams, Teacher; Rachael Nickson, Teacher Assistant. Other personnel items approved by the board included the following: * Resignation – Ms. Dorothy Powell as Bus Aide, effective August 21, 2018. * Employment – Ms. Katrina Sprinkle, Pre-K Teacher, Eutaw Primary School. * Supplemental Contract – Fentress Means, B-Team Basketball Coach, Greene County High School. Administrative Services recommended by Superintendent Carter and approved by the board are as follows: * Approval of Capital Plan for 2019 school year. * Contract between Greene County School System and Coded by Me LLC. * Contract between Greene County School and Power School. * Approval for Greene County High School Debate Team to travel to Nashville Tennessee. * Approval for Greene County High School to travel to Great Wolf Lodge Atlanta for Mu Alpha Theta student’s success. * Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll., Bank reconciliations as submitted by Ms LaVonda Blair, CSFO and Mr. Marvin Taylor, Consultant. The financial reports presented by CSFO Consultant Marvin Taylor included General Fund Bank Reconciliation; Summary Cash Report; Check Register Accountability Report; Monthly Financial Reports, including the Combined Balance Sheet and Combined Statement of Revenues, Expenditures and Changes in Fund Balances. Ms. Blair also presented a Financial Snapshot of board funds as of July 31, 2018. * Combined Fund Balance totaled $3.5 Million. * General Fund Balance totaled $1.474 Million. * A/P Check Register Accountability Report totaled $202,024.82. Payroll Register totaled $861,684.82. In his report to the board, Dr. James Carter indicated that the school system will institute a coding program for grades 1st through 3rd at Eutaw Primary and will continue to enhance coding for grades 4th through 12th. Carter introduced the idea of opening a Washateria Service for students for them to laundry uniforms and other school clothing. He explained this could be set up at the Perter J. Kirksey school property. Dr. Carter stated that the school system will develop a partnership with churches and other organizations in Greene County to provide mentors and tutors for students. He also announced a students’ attendance initiative to encourage students to be in attendance every day. This will be promoted through newspaper ads, social media, television ads and SchoolCast, the school communication system.