Saturday, March 09, 2024

Oconee School Board Looking For New Oconee County High School Principal When Yancey Moves To Central Administration In June

***Board Approves Revised Pay Schedule For Cafeteria Workers***

Kevin Yancey, Principal at Oconee County High School, will become Director of Student Services for Oconee County Schools on June 3, reporting to Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Suzanne Korngold.

The Oconee County Board of Education approved the move of Yancey along with other personnel recommendations from Superintendent Jason Branch after meeting in executive session at the end of its work session on Monday.

Oconee County Schools posted the job opening for the Principal at Oconee County High School on Tuesday.

Yancey became principal of Oconee County High School on June 1, 2020, according to his biography on the Oconee County Schools web site, and served as assistant principal and athletic director at the high school from 2015 to 2020.

In other action at the work session on Monday, the Board approved a request from Justin Cofer, Chief Human Resources Officer, that it revise its School Food Nutrition Salary Scales.

Cofer told the Board that the vacancy rate for School Food Nutrition workers has increased each of the last four years and now stands at 15 percent, despite enhanced incentives.

Cofer said he compared the Oconee County Schools salary scale with those at 11 other surrounding schools and found that Oconee County Schools ranked 12th in both starting pay and ending pay for School Food Nutrition workers.

The new pay scale increases the starting pay for workers from $10.86 per hour to $16.56 and for managers from $18.15 to $22.33 per hour, or an increase of 52.5 percent and 23.0 percent respectively.

Job Postings

The job posting for principal at Oconee County High School on Tuesday, following the Board action on Monday appointing Yancey Director of Student Services, lists June 3 as the effective date of the new appointment.

Modified Screen Shot Cofer, Salary Comparison
3/4/2024 (Click To Enlarge)

The job lists a pay scale for High School Principals of from $105,018 to $124,972.

Oconee County Schools also is listing the job opening for Chief Financial Officer, with an availability date of May 2, 2024.

Oconee County Schools posted the job opening for a Chief Financial Officer on Feb. 6, following the Board’s approval of the recommendation of Superintendent Branch at the Feb. 5 meeting that it accept the separation of LaWanda Hankins effective May 1.

Hankins had been hired as Chief Financial Officer by the Board at its Nov. 6 meeting, with the effective date of Dec. 4.

Hankins replaced Dan Smith, serving on an interim basis after Liz Harlow stepped down as Chief Financial Officer on July 31 of 2023.

Harlow had been in the position only two years and was preceded by Saranna Charping, who served from 2016 to 2021, and Smith, who served from 2013 to 2016. Smith replaced long-time Chief Financial Officer Randy Morrison.

According to the posted job description, the Chief Financial Officer reports directly to Superintendent Branch.

School Food Nutrition Salaries

In his Human Resources Report to the Board on Monday, Cofer said “Tonight we bring to you our job family with the second highest vacancy rate, School Food Nutrition.”

Cofer had come before the Board in January and asked for an increase in school bus driver salaries, with the highest vacancy rate for job types at Oconee County Schools, he said. The Board approved that increase. 

“Many of the same initiatives that would appeal to our (bus) drivers are applicable to this job family as well,” he said, listing the removal of tuition as one example. The new policy of the Board to allow employees to drive buses to earn additional pay also should be a factor, he said.

Cofer told the Board that in May of 2021 the vacancy rate for School Food Nutrition workers was 5 percent. In May of 2022 it was 8 percent, and in May of 2023 it was 12 percent, he said.

At the time of the meeting, he said, it is15 percent.

“We have to question what can we do further to assist in this endeavor,” he said.

Comparison Of Salaries

Cofer said he compared pay scales with 12 of the 14 school systems that are in the Northeast Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA). He could only obtain data for those 12, he said.

Oconee County ranked 12 in both starting and ending pay, he said.

The proposed increase would “enhance our School Food Nutrition pay scales to be more competitive with our neighboring districts,” he said.

“The scales presented before you will place Oconee at the top in our RESA for starting and ending pay and provide a raise each and every year that our school food nutrition employees work for the district,” Cofer added.

He asked for the Board take action at the work session rather than wait until the regular meeting to be held on Monday so that the pay increase can be made retroactive to the start of the current pay period of Feb. 15.

Cofer said the cost of the increased salary would be $122,000 this year and about $360,000 annually.

Cofer, when asked by Board Member Tim Burgess, was not able to say how many employees School Food Nutrition has at present or would have at full employment.

School Nutrition Department

The School Nutrition Department is self-funded, Cofer told Burgess, and little money is ever transferred from the General Fund.

Students pay small amounts of money for breakfast and lunch. An elementary school student at present pays $1.50 for breakfast and $2.50 for lunch, according to the Oconee County Schools web site.

Students eligible for reduced costs do not pay anything, with money coming from the state and federal government.

In his report to the Board on Monday, Associate Superintendent Dallas LeDuff said participation in the School Nutrition program increased in February over the same month last year at both the breakfast and lunch sessions at the system’s elementary, middle, and high schools.

Across the system’s elementary schools, 21.6 percent participated in the breakfast program and 52.2 percent participated in the lunch program, he reported.

Across the middle schools, 10.0 percent participated in the breakfast program and 30.2 percent participated in the lunch program, according to LeDuff.

At the system’s two high schools, 2.0 percent participated in the breakfast program and 18.4 percent participated in the lunch program, his report showed.

Construction Update

Director of Facilities Fred Ricketson, in his Operations Report to the Board on Monday, said that workers are hanging dry wall at the Instructional Support Center under construction on North Main Street in Watkinsville and have begun painting on the first floor.

Modified Screen Shot Ricketson, Instructional Support Center
3/4/2024 (Click To Enlarge) 

“We are making a great amount of progress on mechanical and electrical,” he said. “So things are looking really great over there.”

Ricketson said furniture is being installed at the 12-classroom addition to Malcom Bridge Elementary School and preconstruction meetings have been held for the renovations and modifications at Rocky Branch Elementary School.

The county had issued a request for proposals for generators and received only one bid, Ricketson reported. That bid is for $1.2 million from Qualified Electrical Contractors of Statham.

“We did advertise on the Georgia State Procurement Registry, and in all the all the required places that we are supposed to,” Ricketson told Board Member Burgess.

“We had three different contractors show up for their mandatory pre-bid conference, and they participated and went to all the different sites and reviewed, but in the end only one actually submitted,” he said.

Generator Details

The generators will be installed at each of the schools that do not already have a generator serving as a backup for its freezer and cooler, he said.

Ricketson told Board Member Michael Ransom he didn’t know how many generators were covered by the bid.

Ricketson said some of the generators will run on natural gas and some will run on diesel. In the latter case, enough fuel will be available to operate for five days, he said.

Action by the Board on the recommendation to award the bid to Qualified Electrical Contractors of Statham is on the agenda for the Board meeting on Monday.

Funding will come from the General Fund and from Education Local Option Sales Tax monies, Ricketson said.


The video below is on the YouTube Channel of Oconee County schools.

Cofer made his report at 15:55 in the video.

Ricketson gave his construction update starting at 25:35 in the video.

I created the pictures above from screen shots from the video.

Since Oconee County Schools positions the camera to block out the speaker, I inserted the official photo of the speaker from the Oconee County Schools web site into the screen shot.

I also inserted the graphics used by the speakers in their presentations taken from the documents released to the public by Oconee County Schools after the meeting.


Ian Taylor said...

The administration can not tell the board how many employees it has in a particular area, or how many generators it is upgrading, but yet the board approves increases in funding? If they don’t know basic data, how can the board be sure the dollar values are correct?

The backup generators are for fridge and freezers? If the electricity was out for 5 days, would the students be at school? How often has this happened, and if the food did spoil would the cost be as much as the $1+ million dollars for generators? Should the board not ask basic questions like that?

They spend millions of dollars without the most basic and fundamental questioning.

By all means spend money if you really need to, but for goodness sake, make sure you actually need to spend it!

This has to stop.

Ian Taylor

Jim Gaither said...

I agree with Ian Taylor. If Cofer can't say how many employees are in SFN how can he possibly justify the additional money he's asked for?

An unasked question is how long OCS has lagged behind adjoining and poorer school systems in SNP salary?

But what I really want to know is Hankins' story--hired last year, started work in early December, out after three months this year. Unless there are personal issues involved, that's not how large successful organizations are supposed to be run.