School System receives Accreditation Plaque: School board begins superintendent search

At its monthly meeting held Monday, February 18, 2019, The Greene County Board of Education began its formal superintendent search. The board was in total agreement to engage the assistance of the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) in searching for the top administrator for the Greene County School System. At the December, 2018, meeting, on a 3-2 vote, the board took action not to renew Dr. James Carter’s contract as superintendent. Dr. Carter’s current contract goes through June 2019.
AASB’s search process will include advertising the superintendent search statewide and regionally; receive and screen applications; check credentials and references for all applicants; survey staff and community on desired superintendent qualities and skills; provide an interview guide for the board; submit a final listing of qualified candidates to the board for their interview and final selection.
At this February meeting, Superintendent Carter displayed the plaque the board received asserting the accreditation of the Greene County School System. The plaque reads: Greene County Board of Education has met the criteria for educational quality established by the AdvanceED Accreditation Commission. The board had been previously informed of its approved accreditation status.
In other business the board acted on the following personnel recommendations:

  • Approved resignation of Fentress Means as assistant basketball coach, Greene County High School.
  • Approved appointment of Alfonzo Noland as interim supervisor Maintenance Department.
  • Approved family medical leave for Marcus Steele, bus driver, Department of Transportation, starting Feb.4, 2019.
    *Approved suspension of Suntonna Miles, 6th grade teacher, Robert Brown Middle School, 10 days without pay.
    *Approved salary adjustment for Teresa Atkins, CNP Director.
    The board also acted on the following administrative services recommended by the superintendent.
  • Approved requests to appraise Mt. Hebron property; appraise and survey Eatman property; appraise and survey Birdine property.
  • Approved Corey Cockrell’s travel request to Glazier Coaching Clinic in North Carolina, March 7-8, 2019.
  • Approved initiation of a Wrestling Program at Greene County High School commencing with 2019-2020 school year.
    *Approved payment of all bills, claims and payroll.
    LaVonda Blair, CSFO, presented the following financial summaries as of December 31, 2018:
    General Fund Balance – $822,674.08; A/P Check Register Accountability Report – $208,391.01;
    Payroll Register – $889,953.83; Combined Fund Balance – $3,058,789.39.

Board members recognized for School Board Appreciation Month; public challenges criticism of superintendent and school system

Robert Brown Middle School students demonstrate walking and dancing robots they created.

In keeping with recognizing January as School Board Appreciation Month, each of the Greene County schools honored the local school board members with special accolades at the monthly meeting held Tuesday, January 22, 2019. Eutaw Primary students Ja’Siyah Spencer and London Gould, under the direction of 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Keisha Williams, rendered a poem. Principal Barbara Martin invited board members to a special luncheon.
Robert Brown Middle School Students Jami Williams, Omar Elnaham, Kailee Coleman, Jocelyn Pelt and Anthony McMillian, Jr., under the direction of 7th & 8th grade teacher, Ms. Janice Jeames, demonstrated the walking and dancing robots they created in science class.

The group presented board members with sweets and certificates of appreciation.
Representing Greene County High School, Mr. Alphonzo Morton, III, science/biology teacher and Mr. Siegfried Williams, Choir Director, rendered a poem and song and presented board members with bags of sweets and certificates of appreciation.
Superintendent Dr. James Carter, Sr., representing the Central office staff, presented board members certificates of appreciation and fruit baskets.
Phillis Belcher, Executive Director of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority, also recognized the school board members with bags of healthy treats and copies of the spiritual guide, Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Returning to its regular order of business, the board acted on the following personnel recommendations of the superintendent.
Approved resignations of Sondra Green, Health Science Instructor, Greene County Career Center, effective January 15, 2019; Lesley Carlisle, Maintenance Supervisor, effective January 31, 2018.
Approved catastrophic leave for Tyreice Mack, 5th grade Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School.
Approved employment of Derrick Williams, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation.
Approved salary adjustment for Accounts Payable Clerk, for duties outside regular duties.
Approved supplemental contracts for Shayla McCray, Charlayne Jordan-Riley, and Angelia Hood for duties performed outside regular contract.
Approved supplemental contract for Fredrick Square as School Safety Coordinator.
Approved supplemental contract for Alfonzo Noland, for duties outside regular duties.
The board also approved Dr. Carter’s recommendation that supplemental contracts for coaches remain as is with the caveat that coaches be given extra pay consideration upon completion of annual evaluation, number of students who earn scholarships, won and lost record, practice schedule, and morale of students and coaches within the program.
CSFO LaVonda Blair presented a financial snapshot for the period ending November 2018:
General Fund Balance – $659,662.79 (reconciles to the summary cash report); Check Register Accountability Report – $486,097.48; Payroll register – $898,072.90; Combined Fund Balance – $2,950,901; Local Revenue for the month included property taxes – $202,633.59 and bingo collections – $58,620. Statement ending balance in Merchants & Farmers Bank – $592,538.82 with ending book balance at $659,662.679. The School system’s reserved fund balance is $2,950,901.15
Morgan attempts to buy-out superintendent’s contract
When the board members returned from executive session, board member William Morgan offered a motion which in effect would buy-out Superintendent Carter’s contract and end his services in the system as of Feb. 1, 2019. In the December board meeting, the majority of the board voted to non-renew Dr. Carter’s contract when it ends in June, 2019. Morgan’s motion was deemed out of order, since discussion of the superintendent’s contract was not on the agenda and to add it would required unanimous consent of all board members. Morgan proceeded to expound on the reasons for his motion. He stated that the school system is in great disarray; teachers do not get support they need; principals don’t do their jobs; students don’t get resources needed and all this, according to Morgan, is failure of the superintendent to do his job. Morgan made several disparaging statements against the superintendent, implying the system needed someone new immediately before everything just fell apart. Mr. Leo Branch, board president, had to resort to gaveling Morgan back to order, with the latter insisting he had the floor.
Superintendent Carter followed with his own remarks, refuting Morgans statements of how bad the school system is. Carter pointed to the new and continuing initiatives and the progressive work going on in the system.
Board member Carol Zippert indicated that she wanted clarity that Morgan did not represent her views on the school system. She said that are lots of good things going on in our schools and problems and issues cannot be corrected overnight. It takes a process for progress to continue, with everyone playing a part. She stated that the system is continuing to improve.
During public comments, several members of the audience, including Ms. Hattie Edwards, former Mayor or Eutaw, District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne, Commissioner Lester Brown, community leader Spiver Gordon and retired teacher Mary Otieno, challenged the statements made by Morgan and noted specifics of how they viewed progress in the school system. Each speaker indicated that many entities are responsible for students’ success, including parents, teachers, administrators, the community and students themselves. They all said it is not entirely up to the superintendent. One speaker urged the board to find a way to work together for the students.

GEAR UP Alabama Kick-Off

by Marva Smith

Shown Above: Mr. Erwin Dudley, former UA basketball player, GCH Assistant Principal Andrea Perry and Marva Smith, Site Facilitator, with GEAR UP students. and Mr. Erwin Dudley, Motivational Speaker, shares his coming-of-age story with GEAR UP students

The Greene County School District kicked off its fourth year of participation in GEAR UP Alabama. GEAR UP Alabama is a federally funded initiative through the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The program had its beginning at Carver Middle School and Paramount Jr. High School during the 2015-2016 academic year when the current tenth and eleventh grade students were in the seventh and eighth grades. The program will follow the students through high school graduation and into post-secondary institutions. September 23-29, 2018 is National GEAR UP Kick-Off Week. This year’s theme is “Super Heroes” which denotes that there is a super hero inside each of them…just waiting to be discovered. The week kicked off with a program in the gymnasium at Greene County High School. The program included a welcome and greetings by Mr. Willie Simmons, principal and Dr. James Carter, Superintendent; respectively. The high school choir under the directorship of Mr. Siegfried Williams rendered two melodious selections that were sung to perfection. The highlight of the program was a speech by Mr. Erwin Dudley. Mr. Dudley played basketball during early 2000s at the University of Alabama. While at the Capstone, he consistently made a name for himself. During his college basketball career, he was named All-American by the Associated Press, a consensus SEC 2002 Player-of-the-Year and an unanimous All-SEC First Team Pick. Dudley led the SEC in rebounding for three consecutive seasons, becoming the first to do so since Shaquille O’Neal. He also holds the University of Alabama school record with 129 career starts, ranks seventh all-time in scoring (1,764 points) and fourth in rebounding (1,184). Dudley recorded 43 double-doubles, giving him the nickname “E-Double-Double”. The message he drove home to the students in his closing remarks was that you can accomplish your goal if you put God first, be committed and work hard. He has had many hardships and obstacles in life but didn’t let that hinder him. His achievements have been abundant during his basketball career. He played thirteen years in an overseas basketball league in Turkey and is currently semi-retired. The National Kick-Off Week Celebration continued with “Teachers Tell Their Stories” of their college experiences on Tuesday, Graduation Commitment Day on Wednesday where students signed a poster committing to graduating from high school with their cohorts. On Super Hero Day Thursday, students dressed as Super Heroes and completed the phrase, “I will be a Super Hero by…”. On Friday, students dressed in that favorite college gear or Fresh Start or GEAR UP tees. Students will culminate their GEAR UP Kick-Off Week activities by attending the Future Proof Let Us Make Man Conference at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) on Saturday. GEAR UP Alabama objective is to cause the students’ hopes, dreams, and possibilities be a reality.