The meeting of the Oconee County Board of Education on Monday had a special feature, in keeping with the season.
Eighteen students, making up the Rocky Branch Elementary School Chorus and led by Josh Luke, performed a medley of holiday songs.
The four-and-half-minute performance produced enthusiastic applause from the packed meeting room in the Superintendent’s Office in Watkinsville and was followed by pictures with the Board members.
The Board also conducted some business at the Monday meeting, the last of the calendar year and just before the holiday break.
The children’s performance, however, was what filled the room with proud parents.
Five Minutes Into Meeting
The children from Rocky Branch Elementary School entered the room five minutes into the Board meeting and just following recognition by the Board of the December Pursuit of Excellence Award Winner, paraprofessional Tabitha McCullers of Dove Creek Elementary School.
Laura Mason, Rocky Branch Elementary School principal, introduced the chorus and noted that the students had performed in the past at the Georgia Aquarium and are scheduled to perform at the next University of Georgia Gymdogs meet.
Board of Education meetings are highly choreographed affairs, and the performance by the student chorus preceded a short visual presentation highlighting the work of Rocky Branch Elementary School students and their teachers.
Such a presentation is a standard component of Board meetings.
Following the student performance, the Board received a report on school finances, heard from one member of the community who praised the school for its participation in a Mentor Program and in Food for Kids, and approved a modification in the current academic calendar.
Saranna Charping, chief financial officer for the school system, told the Board that revenue for the first 10 months of the current Education Local Option Sales Tax is $6.4 million out of a projected $39.9 million from the five-year tax.
The School System borrowed $23.5 million against those tax revenues and has completed two of its major promised projects–construction of Rocky Branch Elementary School and expansion of Oconee County High School–using those funds.
The Board voted on Monday to approve Kevin Price Construction’s bid of $2,995,000 for another project, replacement of the HVAC system at North Oconee High School.
Board Member Tim Burgess had asked Superintendent Jason Branch for the detailed report on the ELOST income and spending at the Dec. 3 Board meeting.
Wanda Stitt-Gohdes, chair of the Oconee Area Resource Council Board, was given the opportunity in the public comment section of the Board of Education meeting to highlight the partnership between the Oconee County School System and the Resource Council.
Stitt-Gohdes said that school district faculty and staff donate about $2,400 each month to the the Resource Council and “literally make our Food for Kids program possible.”
That program, according to Stitt-Gohdes’ report, provides 165 children “with a bag of healthy food so they don’t go hungry from Friday afternoon to Monday morning.” The number of participating students increased by nearly 20 this year, she said.
School system counselors also work with Resource Council Mentor Program coordinators, Stitt-Gohdes said.
“We are blessed to live in a county, which, when made aware of the needs, responds not only immediately but generously,” she said.
The Board on Monday also voted to approve a revised school calendar for academic year 2018-2019. The last day of school, May 17, 2019, has been reduced from a full day to a half day.
The room was nearly empty when the staff gave the financial report, Stitt-Gohdes spoke, and the Board voted on the schedule change.
The video below is of the entire meeting of the Board of Education on Dec. 10.
The clip above of the chorus performance is taken from this longer video.
Charping made her report at 17:20 in the video
Stitt-Gohdes spoke at 26:09 in the video.
I or colleagues record all Board of Education meetings, and I have created a channel on the Oconee County Observations Vimeo site that contains the Board of Education video.
The link to that channel is HERE. Click on the Follow button on the right of the video list to be notified when a video is posted to the channel.
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