Superintendent addresses parents concerns on returning students to in-class instruction

The Greene County Board of Education met in regular session Monday, September 20, 2021. One of the key issues addressed related to the re-opening of face-to-face classes for students. Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones stated that various official health reports indicate that COVID positive cases are down in Greene County at this time. He also said that the data indicates that achievement rates are lower among students who are in virtual programs. “My main concerns are for the safety of our students and, just as important, my concern for the achievement of our students. We cannot allow our students to continue to fall back,” he explained.
Several parents were in attendance and were allowed an opportunity to express their concerns which related to cleaning routines at school facilities, availability of cleaning supplies, the cooling system at Robert Brown Middle School, alternate instructional programs for students with pre conditions, and the consideration of implementing the Hybrid Instructional Plan where the number of students in a class is reduced. Dr. Jones addressed these assuring all that the maintenance department worked additional hours each day for repeated cleaning of facilities. He stated that the school system will remain in full attendance at this time, but students needing alternative instructional methods will be considered on an individual basis. He added that parents can make such requests through the school principal or directly to him.
As part of the personnel items presented to the board, Superintendent Jones recommended the suspension of Corey Cockrell as teacher and coach for five days without pay. The board held a closed conference with Cockrell and when returning to open session, no action was taken on the superintendent’s recommendation.
Regarding other personnel items recommended, the board approved the following:
Employment: Marqavius King as 6th Grade Language Arts Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School. Resignation: Nyesha Watson as 1st Grade Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School; Jamar Jackson as Custodian at Robert Brown Middle School.
Supplemental Contracts: Elroy Skinner as Assistant Football Coach at RBMS; Cyonti Lewis as Assistant Football Coach at GCHS,  
The board approved the following administrative items presented by the superintendent.
* Payment of all bills, claims and payroll.
Bank reconciliations as submitted by LaVonda Blair, CSFO.
Confirmation of Interim CSFO Contract.
* Confirmation for Limited Financial Agreement.
* Memorandum of Agreement between Greene County Board and Stillman College Foundation.
* Memorandum of Agreement between Greene County Board and the University of Alabama Dual Enrollment.
* Memorandum of Understanding between Greene County Board of Education and UAB for voluntary COVID weekly testing for students, faculty and staff, pending attorney’s review and superintendent’s agreement.
* Contract between Greene County Board and Malysa Chandler for Educational Consulting Services.
* Partnership between Greene County Schools and Alabama Cooperative Extension Services for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program.

Greene County schools return to virtual classes as COVID positive case rise

The Greene County Board of Education met in a special called meeting, Friday, August 20, 2021 to address the school system’s need to revert to virtual classes due to the number of positive COVID cases among students and school personnel. Subsequently, the board approved Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones’ recommendation to end in-person classes from August 20 until September 7, and further authorized the superintendent to extend the virtual program beyond that date, up to the September board meeting, if pandemic health issues warranted the same. At the time of the board meeting, 32 positive cases in the school system had been reported. According to Dr. Jones, the tracing procedures indicated that these positive cases did not originate in the school system. The August 20 Greene County High School football game scheduled in Aliceville was cancelled due to one player testing positive, which may have exposed others. To date, the number of reported positive COVID cases among students is 32, with 12 in quarantine and 8 positive cases among school personnel. The GCHS football team is scheduled to play Keith in Orrville, Friday, August 27. The Alabama Athletic Association stated that athletes who are vaccinated and become exposed may still play. According to Dr. Jones, school officials have prepared educational packets for students to avoid a gap in learning as the technical devices are distributed or upgraded. “Some students did not return their tablets at the end of the previous school term as requested, and some tablets turned in were damaged and had to be sent out for repairs. The tablets that were returned in good order were re-issued.” he stated. Dr. Jones noted that students’ school issued tablets would be activated and hot spots would be provided for those students needing the device. The board also approved the revised School Resource Officer Contract for 2021-2022, as recommended by the superintendent. Once the board meeting had adjourned, GCHS Coach Corey Cockrell and some football players expressed concerns regarding the school’s football program.

Board submits plan for ESSER II funds Greene County School Board approves new contracts for Superintendent Jones and CSFO Blair

The Greene County Board of Education, at its June 28, 2021 meeting, approved the renewal of the Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones’ contract for an additional three years, beginning July 1, 2022. Dr. Jones’ current contract contains a provision that required the board to inform him one year in advance on whether his contract would be renewed, including the terms and conditions. Jones was hired July 1, 2019. The board also approved a three year contract for CSFO LaVonda Blair beginning July 1, 2021. She was hired August 1, 2018. Both contracts were approved on a three-two vote of board members, in spite of the fact that Superintendent Jones and CSFO Blair had received composite average scores, in their evaluations by the board, indicating that their performances Exceeded Expectations. The superintendent’s report to the board included a summary of the ESSER II Plan (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) that was submitted to the Alabama State Department of Education. According to Dr. Jones, the system’s $3,319,901 ESSER II allocation will focus on the following four components: High Quality Instructional Materials, budgeted at $476,450; High Quality Professional Development, budgeted at $81,780; Unfinished Learning Supports, budgeted at $1,561,889 and Facilities, budgeted at $1,200,000. In the ESSER II Plan each component is specifically detailed with proposed activities and follow-up as well as related costs. ESSER II funds must be expended by September 30, 2023 Dr. Jones also announced that the 2021-2022 school year will open with full face-to-face learning, baring any public health order warranting the school system to return to virtual learning approaches. “Our main concern is the safety of all school personnel, as well as our community, and utilizing every means available to provide the best learning opportunities for our students,” he stated. Jones gave updates on the renovations to the central office. He noted that the second phase will include painting and carpeting inside the facility. CSFO LaVanda Blair presented the following Financial Snapshot as of April 30, 2021: General Fund Balance – $2,886,119.30; Accounts Payable Check Register – $258,470.35; Payroll Register – $815,310.53; Combined Fund Balance – $5,777,622.22; Total Local Revenue – $1,782,544.14, including property and sales taxes and bingo revenue. Blair noted the budget amendments relative to the ESSER II – CRRSA (Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act). The CSFO also presented an overview of the streamlining process in various components in the central office, including implementation of the Follet Inventory System, technological advances, ClassWallet, KissFlow, and MySchoolBucks. Blair stated that the financial department works closely with Superintendent Jones to maintain the operating reserve; eliminate any unnecessary spending and reduce and/or refinance debt. In other business, the board ratified the listing of summer school personnel, the superintendent had been authorized to employ in the program. On the superintendent’s recommendation, the board approved the following personnel recalled for the 2021-2022 school term: •Eutaw Primary School: Gwendolyn Webb, Trakayla Brown, Tara Thomas, Danielle Sanders-Williams, Quenterica White, Domonique McDaniels, Sherita Pickens, Chandra Toney, Valarie Moore, Hillary Bruner. •Robert Brown Middle School: Alisa Allen, Brandi Eubanks, Tammy Barber, Leanita Hunt, Alison Newton, Kalyn Gray, Quentin Walton, Nkenge Reynold, Demelia Snyder, Ashley Moody. •Greene County High School: Tyler Mitchell, Elroy Skinner, Josef Stander, Clifford Reynolds. The board approved employment of the following: Monquell Wigfall, Special Education Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School, for the 2021-2022 school year; Whitney Hampton-Finch, 4th Grade teacher, Robert Brown Middle School; Gloria Watkins McGhee, Pre-K Teacher, Eutaw Primary School; Paula Calligan, Cosmetology Instructor, Greene County Career Center. The board approved Catastrophic / FMLA Leave for Larry Burnette from April 27, 2021 – August 1, 2021; Resignations of Jacob Sullivan, Robert Brown Middle School, effective June 3, 2021 and Lurena Smith, Kindergarten Teacher, Eutaw Primary School, effective June 25, 2021. The board approved the following administrative service items: * Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll. * Bank reconciliations as submitted by Ms. LaVonda Blair, CSFO. * Contract agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Albireo Energy Control * System Maintenance Program. * 4-day work week for all extended employees beginning June 7 – July 30, 2021. * Contractual Agreement between Greene County Board and Behavior Aide Eleanor Smalls. * Contractual Agreement between Greene County Board and Behavior Aide, Denise Horton. * Approval of Follett School Solutions Software. •Approval of unused school buses to be sold for scrap. The following are the board agenda items which do not require a recommendation of the superintendent. * Approval of Contract for Chief School Finance Officer. * Approval of Notice to Superintendent as Required by Superintendent Contract.

School system completes assessments; plans summer school for credit recovery and enhancement

The Greene County Board of Education held its regular meeting Monday, May 17, 2021 in the Board’s Central Office, observing coronavirus precautions. Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones opened his report to the board stating that all assessments have been completed, including Pre-ACT, ACT Work Keys, ACCESS for EllS, ACT With Writing, ACAP Alternative, and ACAP Summative. “Having students return to at-school classes was a key factor in completing student assessments,” he stated. He noted that the various assessments will assist the system in addressing any learning loss as well as provide enhancement programs. Dr. Jones stated that the system’s summer school is scheduled for June 7 – July 8. The summer program is designed for credit recovery and enhancement. Classes will be held from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm with no cost to students. He noted that transportation and lunch will also be provided. “This is an opportunity for students to complete or improve course work as well as participate in enhancement classes and projects, however, to receive credit, attendance is required,” he said. Dr. Jones presented the student in-class return rate as follows: Eutaw Primary – 214 of 332; Robert Brown Middle -184 of 348; Greene County High – 113 of 269; totaling 511 students of 949. Virtual classes are also continuing. According to Superintendent Jones, Greene County High School has 67 senior students with 60 seniors having satisfied all requirements for graduation. The remaining seven students have until Thursday, May 20, to meet the requirements to participate in the graduation ceremony. Students who complete their requirements after May 20, may still receive their diplomas. The 2021 Greene County High School graduation is scheduled for Friday, May 21, on the athletic field at Robert Brown Middle School. Each graduate will be allowed four guests. Coronavirus precautions will be observed. In his ‘COVID” report, the superintendent stated that only one employee from Eutaw Primary School had to be quarantined due to exposure to the virus. Jones noted that the Central Office roofing project completion has been moved to June 15, due to weather delays and company employee issues. The superintendent announced that the school system will receive $3.3 million through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief II (ESSER) funds, noting that a portion of these funds can be applied to capital improvements such as replacing outdate heating and cooling systems in school facilities. ESSER III funds which will be awarded through the American Rescue Act will provide an even greater pot of funds for school improvement. Under the personnel items, the board approved the non-renewal of non-tenured school personnel recommended by the superintendent. Dr. Jones noted that many are likely to be recalled for the upcoming school term. With the superintendent’s recommendation, the board acted on other personnel items.:

* Approved employment of Delois Brantley, Janitor, Maintenance Department; Dorothy Powell, Special Services Bus Aide, Department of Transportation.

* Approved retirement of Mary Armayor, Librarian, Robert Brown Middle School, effective June 3, 2021; Bernice Smith, Lab Technician, Eutaw Primary School, effective, June 1, 2021.

* Approved to rescind employment of Stephanie Spencer, Special Services Bus Aide – did not accept position.

* Approved Supplemental Contract for Coach Corey Cockrell, in the sum of $3,800.00 for all duties related to Athletics in the school year of 2020-2021 for the Greene County School System.

* Approved the superintendent hiring Summer School Teachers and bringing back selected non-tenured teachers for Summer School.

• Approved proposal pay increase to $10 per hour for CNP Substitutes. The board approved the following administrative services items recommended by the superintendent.

* Agreement between Community Service Programs of West Alabama Inc. Head Start / Early Head Start and Greene County Board.

* Contract Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Amy Quitt, for Speech-Language Therapy Services.

*Approval of Summer School Program starting June 7, 2021 – July 8, 202.

* Approval to purchase carpet for Central Office Building.

* Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Kim Herren, for Development Delay Services.

* Contract between Greene County Board of Education and Valuable Informative Psychometric Services. *Contract Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and WeCare Therapy Services, LLC. *Agreement between Greene County Board and Mastery Works Test Prep, LLC.

* Approval of Infinite Potential, Grades 9-12 Summer Youth Program.

* Approval of Greene County Schools Travel Policy.

* Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll.

* Bank reconciliations as submitted by Ms. LaVonda Blair, CSFO.

* Permission to pay for Greene County High School Seniors Prom.

* Approval of Shaneka’s Nursing Services to provide health care to Special Needs Student During Summer School. * Approval of Contractual Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Courtney Duff, BDA West Alabama Therapy LLC.

Coronavirus keeps school system in virtual mode Superintendent Jones provides academic updates through curriculum coordinator

The Greene County Board of Education held its December 21, 2020 meeting virtually, due to the rise in COVID-19 positive cases in the county. In his report to the board, Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones stated that the rate of cases for Greene County was above 33%. He noted that the safe rate to consider returning to school facilities is 5%. “ With these statistics, there is no way we can move from the Phase I approach in our academic program,” he said.
According to Dr. Jones, 14 school employees have tested positive for the coronavirus since the opening of school with 37 having to be quarantined. “At this time we have 16 employees currently in quarantine,” he stated. Jones explained that, fortunately, teachers who were in quarantine were able to conduct their virtual classes from home without taking leave days. “We try our best to be compassionate during these difficult times,” he said. Superintendent Jones presented the system’s Curriculum Coordinator Consultant, Ms. Malysa Chandler, who gave an update of her role with the instructional staff. Ms Chandler noted that her work with the Greene County School System began last school year at Robert Brown Middle School, however, her work this year has extended across the system. According to Chandler, a major component of her role has been to assist in the development of a curriculum map and pacing guide for the system. She also assists teachers with lesson plans, suggesting various activities to enhance student engagement. “I actually observe the virtual classrooms of teachers, and Greene County has some awesome teachers,” she stated.Chandler reported that there are classes with excessive student failures and, working with school leaders, small recovery groups have been organized to assist those students. “The students who have participated in the recovery groups have shown significant improvement,” she stated.
According to Chandler, virtual team meetings will begin in January in an effort to link middle school and high school curriculum, including a designed component for the infusion of Black History across the curriculum.
Chandler noted that she is also prepared to assist teachers who have not satisfied the practice exams. “I would like to have input in the district’s Continuing Improvement Plan,” she said.
In other business, the board approved the following personnel items recommended by the superintendent.
Employment: Jamara Wright, School District Special Education Coordinator; LaTonya Taylor, Special Needs Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School; Jessica Lake, from CNP Department to full time custodian at Robert Brown Middle School, effective January 2021; Carl Oliver from Maintenance Aid/Custodian to Lead Maintenance; Sarah Wallace, Substitute History Teacher, Greene County High School.
Retirement: Samuel Newton, Janitor, Eutaw Primary School effective January 1, 2021; Alfonzo Noland, Maintenance Department, effective January 1, 2021.
FMLA Employee Leave: Tyler Mitchell, History Teacher, Greene County High School from October 12, 2020 – TBD, due to child’s daycare being closed during this time.
The board approved the following administrative items:
Drug Testing and Screening Agreement between Greene County Board and Safety-First Behavioral Health System, Inc.
HVAC Program Agreement between Greene County Board and Wallace State Community College.
Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll.
Following Attorney Hank Sanders report, the board approved a resolution which sets out the completion of the sale of the former Mt. Hebron Pre-School property to the non-profit organization, SCORE. Attorney Sanders also noted that the former Birdine School property, which is still under state ownership, is now in the process of being transferred to the Greene County School Board and will become available for the board to take further action. The Greene County Board of Education agreed to pay all full time active employees a one-time supplement of $500 each and all part-time employees a one-time supplement of $250 each in the pay period for December. These one-time supplements are for additional services provided during the 2020-2021 school year based on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Superintendent Jones says schools will remain in Phase I with remote learning

In his report to the Greene County Board of Education at its regular monthly meeting, Monday, October 19, 2020, Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones announced that Greene County schools will continue with remote student learning for the second nine weeks. Jones stated that he has kept a daily vigil on the COVID-19 positive reports for the county as well as state-wide to assist him is making the most prudent decision for students, their families and the community.
“ I want our students back in the classroom, but I also want them and their families to be safe,” he said.
Dr. Jones explained that he conducted a survey with parents and with the instructional staff to get their input on whether students should return to the classrooms. He reported that in the parents’ survey, 56% were for students returning to the classrooms while 44% wanted to remain with remote learning. According to Jones, there was a big difference in the teachers’ survey: 85% wanted to remain with remote classes, while 15% favored returning to the classroom.
The superintendent said that he is aware that some students are struggling with the remote process. “I realize that for some students remote classes may not be the best approach for them individually; there are distractions in the home; there may be insufficient home support for students while parents are at work; some students are not logging in on a consistent basis; however, protecting lives still is the highest consideration at this time,” he said.
Jones also stated that once progress reports are issued, failing students will be brought back to the classroom for on-site instruction. “This will only be carried out with the greatest of precaution for a smaller number of students. Every safety measure will be in place,” he emphasized.
According to the superintendent, if COVID-19 factors decrease significantly, Phase II, which includes a hybrid instructional approach with a blend of remote and face-to-face classes, will be implemented for the entire school system.
Jones reported that his staff continues to sanitize all school facilities, including fogging. ‘We are expecting plexiglass for our facilities to arrive this week,” he said.
In other business, the board approved the following recommendations of the superintendent:
Employment: Marilyn Finch, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation; Latasha Lewis, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation.
Voluntary Transfer: David Peterson, from Maintenance Helper to Mechanic Helper, Department of Transportation.
•Resignation: LaToya Consentine, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation, effective September 30, 2020.
Administrative Service Items:
•Contract between Greene County Board and Criterion Consulting, Formative Administrator Evaluation Support Services.
•Contract between Greene County Board of Education and Woods Therapeutic Services, Inc.
•Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll
Dr. Jones presented a plaque of appreciation to Board member William Morgan for his service to the Greene County School System. Morgan’s term of office ends in November. Morgan also received a plaque of achievement from the Alabama Association of School Boards for reaching the Master’s level in board training.
Board member Carrie Dancy received a plaque of achievement from AASB for meeting all requirements for school board training for 2020.

School board hires principal for Greene County High School

At its recent meeting held Monday, July 9, 2018, on the recommendation of Dr. James H. Carter, School Superintendent, the Greene County Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Willie S. Simmons, of Birmingham, AL, as Principal of Greene County High School. Simmons will vacate the position of Assistant Principal at Center Point High School, a role he has held since 2006.
Other Greene County High personnel approved by the board included the following: Wesley Russell, a 2017 graduate of the University of Alabama was hired as Mathematics Teacher; Josef Stancer, as Music Teacher / Band Director for GCHS and Robert Brown Middle School.
The board approved the following additional personnel for Robert Brown Middle School:
Yvonne Turner as Special Education Teacher; Demillia Snyder as Science Teacher; Tyrecia Mack as Elementary Teacher and Josef Stancer, as Music Teacher.
Additional personnel approved for Eutaw Primary School include the following: Gwendolyn Webb, Pre-K Aide; Danielle Sanders as 1st Grade Teacher; Courtney Williams as 1st Grade Teacher and Chandra Toney as 3rd Grade Teacher.
Joseph Patrick was approved as Lead Teacher at the Greene County Learning Academy.
The board accepted the Non-Acceptance of Position by Kianga Austin.
Additional Service Contracts (separate contracts) were approved for the following:
Joseph Patrick as Assistant Football Coach (GCHS); Russell Rivers as Assistant Football Coach (GCHS); Justin Booth as Head Baseball Coach (GCHS); Fentress Means as Assistant Baseball Coach (GCHS); Danielle Sanders as Head Girls Basketball Coach (GCHS); SuKova Hicks as Assistant Girls Basketball Coach (GCHS).
The school board also approved the purchase of two 72 – passenger school buses for the school system’s Department of Transportation at an investment of $170,494.