The Blount County Board of Education convened for a special called meeting last Friday in an effort to fill several certified positions before the opening of school. Teachers return to school Monday, Aug. 2, with Blount County Schools opening their doors for their first full day of school with students on Thursday, Aug. 5.
“The teacher shortage is real and it’s finally hitting home,” Superintendent Rodney Green said. “There is a crisis now in hiring teachers, but because of your willingness to meet today, we are able to fill all our certified positions.”
Green also reported that registration for the 2021-2022 school year is going well. “I met with the principals this morning and they were all very positive,” he said. “Schools are getting organized. But, people don’t really know what we might face in the fall with the Delta variant [of COVID-19] so we are planning a plan B, C, D, and so on. We will approach each situation with common sense and on a case-by-case basis.
“Plan A is to return to school as normal as possible. That means five days of face-to-face instruction with sanitary policies in place.There are no restrictions on band, athletics, lunch, field trips. There will be no mandatory masking, no restrictions on class size unless we have issues. If the number of cases begins to escalate, we will have to look at some remote options.”
Currently, the only remote option for students is the system’s Bridge Academy, which is for students in ninth through 12th grades. Currently there are 175 students enrolled in the program. Those students had to apply and meet certain criteria before being accepted.
Another change from last year is the absence of any “COVID days” for personnel. “The federal government did not extend those provisions,” Green explained. “If a teacher has to quarantine, and right now it is still a 14-day quarantine, those days will count toward their sick leave. For students who miss due to illness with COVID or mandatory quarantine, those absences don’t count toward their allotment for a semester or year.
“We encourage our teachers to get vaccinated. If you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to quarantine if exposed. We encourage parents to consider vaccination for children who are 12 and up. I hope we have a good normal year. I feel good about our plans.”
Green, along with all educators, continues to wait for updated COVID-19 related guidance from the Alabama Department of Public Health, which should be released in the coming weeks. Once that information is available, officials will adjust plans accordingly.
The board reviewed superintendent Rodney Green’s recommendations. It approved: General
• Tonja Carpenter, non-compensated volunteer, Southeastern, 2021-2022 school year.
• bid for Locust Fork High weight room flooring awarded to Wright Weight Equipment. Agreements/contracts
• Cleveland High’s contract with Rebecca Maniscalco for maintaining and creating school yearbook and website, Oct. 1, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2022; Amy Wilemon, July 21 through Aug. 6
• Susan Moore High’s contract with Jacob Roberson for 2021 band camp instruction.
• contract with Katrina Goza beginning July 24, and ending Aug. 10. Resignations
• Appalachian: Beverly Daily Brooks, special education aide; Brandon Hyatt, teacher/coach; and Leigh-Allison Reaves Lybrand, teacher.
• Cleveland High: Kimberly Hall, office aide/ child nutrition program employee.
• Susan Moore High: Belinda McKenzie, school bus driver.
• Southeastern: Breanna Swords, teacher. Transfers
• Melissa Bridges, child nutrition program worker at Hayden Elementary to utility school bus driver for Blount County Schools, effective Aug. 3.
• Amy Cole, utility school bus driver for Blount County Schools to school bus driver for Locust Fork Schools, effective Aug. 3.
• Sarah Lauderdale, computer lab/ACCESS aide at Susan Moore High to Transportation Routing Specialist, effective July 26.
• Gracie League, child nutrition program worker to child nutrition program manager, Susan Moore High, effective July 27.
• Kelly Shoemaker, school nurse for Blount County Schools to child nutrition program worker at Hayden Primary, effective July 30. Employment (support)
• Melissa Coleman, special education aide, Blount County Learning Center.
• Katlin Murphree, utility school bus driver, Blount County Schools.
• Rita Yarbrough, child nutrition program worker, J.B. Pennington. Employment (certified)
• Appalachian School: Brandon Johnson, secondary teacher; William Brent Patterson, teacher and head varsity boys basketball coach; Britney Quinn, elementary teacher.
• Locust Fork: Wesley Marsh, STEAM teacher.
• Southeastern: Hunter R. Armstrong, secondary social science teacher; April Bishop, elementary English language arts teacher; and Randi Tyler Thompson, secondary social science teacher. Leaves of absence
• Cynthia Dougherty, school bus driver, Southeastern, Aug. 3 through Aug. 31.
• Stephani Wagnon, Hayden Middle, Aug. 2, through Sept. 17.
The Blount County Board of Education will meet for its regular monthly meeting Monday, Aug. 2, at 1 p.m.