Jerry McGukin

The Tallapoosa County Board of Education held its annual public meeting Tuesday where community members can simply sign up to address the board. Dadeville Beautification Board president Jerry McGukin talks to the board about planting trees around the Dadeville schools.

The Tallapoosa County Board of Education approved its capital plan and listened to the community for its annual public meeting after struggling with technology for a few minutes. The school board used EBoard for the first time at its meeting instead of paper which caused some confusion for board members and superintendent Joe Windle.

After a few minutes of pausing in between the first actions with the help of director of student services Casey Davis, the board was able to move along and approved its $30.1 million capital plan.

The first four projects are funded by the 1-cent sales tax renewal. The fifth project is a “five-year wish list,” according to Windle.

“(The fifth project) is all unfunded with the exception of technology projects,” Windle said. “We’ll fund those technology projects out of the Educational Advancement & Technology fund disbursements that we got last year, which equals about $754,000. And the projections are we’ll get two times that amount in the 20-21 budget.”

Board member Betty Carol Graham asked if the plan can be amended after it’s approved, which Windle confirmed.

“It only becomes official if we release a bid, a bid comes back and the board would have to vote whether or not to do the project,” Windle said. “After the first four (projects) we don’t have any other funding other than the technology project.”

The first project on the capital plan is renovating Dadeville Elementary School’s cafeteria. Windle said the board won’t receive bids on the project until December.

The board then moved into its annual public meeting where community members can sign up before the meeting to speak to the board. Parent Christie Magera spoke about keeping her children in the county school system while they live in Alexander City. Magera’s husband is currently in Uganda working for a political party while she and eight of their kids are in the county attending Horseshoe Bend School.

“When we made the decision to come here (from Uganda) we had no home and no car,” Magera said. “We still don’t.”

Magera doesn’t want to switch her daughter who’s in ninth grade to Alexander City Schools then move back to Uganda. 

“I want to see if we can stay (in the county school system) until my husband gets back,” Magera said. “I’ve looked at every house that’s become available in the last year. All (my children) know is this one school and I don’t want to move them out if I don’t have to.”

Carter said the board will help her family in any way it can.

Dadeville Beautification Board president Jerry McGukin also presented to the board the plan for classes to donate trees around Dadeville schools and board of education property. He also passed out information on the benefits of trees.

“One study showed that a community with a larger canopy can reduce childhood obesity up to 20%,” McGukin said. “Essentially we’re coming to get the board’s blessings to go forward with the project.” 

The Dadeville High School Class of 1952 is the oldest dedication and the newest is from the 1990s, according to McGukin. The trees have plaques in the names of classes.

“Another aspect of (tree donations) is this can become a teaching environment for your school,” McGukin said. “We will have a complete inventory catalogue of the various tree species. They can learn tree growth, tree pattern, what the tree looks like. We plan to have a variety of colors, textures and things like that.”

The beautification board is planning on replacing the dead trees and incorporating some with the school board’s property. Windle told him Reeltown and Horseshoe Bend schools would also be interested in tree dedications and to contact maintenance supervisor Dwayne Johnson before digging in case there are water lines below the ground.

“I don’t think anybody has any objection to beautifying our campuses,” Windle said.

In other action, the school board:

• Voted Carla Talton as the board president and Michael Carter as vice president

• Approved Valley Bank, CB&S Bank, Regions Bank, River Bank & Trust, Farmers & Merchants Bank and PNC as official depositories for the schools. Windle said the board wants to use local banks with each of the schools.

• Approved its estimated $14.9 million contract with Volkert Inc. for project management services for a new Reeltown Elementary School building.

“We won’t know the actual figure until the bids come back and we open the bids and we see a low bid,” Windle said.

• Approved updates to the student harassment prevention policy. Davis said the main changes went along with the state policy, which was replacing the word “harassment” with “bullying”

• Heard from Windle praising the schools’ state report card improvements. A poster in the board of education’s meeting room reads “BBCCD” for last year’s grades from each school and Windle said he keeps it there to remind him of the grades.

“The sign that will go up next to that next week will be, ‘BBBBC,’” Windle said. “We have two schools —1,316 schools took the test to determine that grade. Seventy-seven of those schools earned a double-digit increase in academic proficiency. We have two of them in Tallapoosa County: Dadeville Elementary School and Reeltown Elementary School. We ought to celebrate.” 

• Approved personnel