The Henry County Board of Education appointed an interim director of schools to cover the period until the new director takes over.
Felicia Bates will be interim director from July 1-14, since incoming director Leah Watkins will be unable to begin her duties until July 15.
Dr. Bates is the school system’s director of curriculum for grades K-3 and was a candidate for the director position when the board went through the interview process in May.
The board agreed unanimously to appoint Bates as interim director.
Thursday’s meeting was Director of Schools Brian Norton’s last meeting as director. He thanked the board members as well as the greater population of Henry County for supporting their schools with an “unwavering spirit.”
“Here’s what I really believe,” Dr. Norton said. “The greatest days are ahead for Henry County schools.”
Also on the agenda was the approval of the 2019-20 budget. Norton said the board’s budget committee met twice, and the proposed budget increased by 2 percent in total dollars.
He said enrollment increased this year for the first time since the 2010-11 school year.
The system received funds to increase salaries for both certified and classified employees in the system. New state money for certified employee salaries and benefits came to $466,000, and new state money for classified employees, which includes secretaries, custodians, nurses, assistants and other employees came to $78,000.
The salary increases for certified employees brings the salary for a beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience to more than $40,000.
A support personnel person in the finance department was also added to the budget.
Norton said Director of Finance LonNita McDonald has been doing the jobs of two people for four years. He said that to withhold the position would be a disservice to McDonald.
The board OK’d a motion by Tom Beasley to approve the budget.
COUNCE, HUDSON TO BE HONORED
The school board also voted on the naming of the fieldhouse and football field at Henry County High School.
The board voted to name the fieldhouse after former football coach James Counce Sr. and to name the field after former football coach and vice principal Bill Hudson.
The school board named and recognized Jack Pressey as its Outstanding Volunteer of the Year.
Pressey is a volunteer with the Team Read program the county school system runs in a partnership with the Paris Special School District.Volunteers with the program, including Pressey, read to second-grade students at Paris and Henry County elementary schools.
Pressey reads to students at Henry School, and the board said the school was quick to nominate him for the award.
The board also recognized HCHS student Silas Winders, who won the state championship this year in the 3,200-meter run at the state track championships.
Also on the agenda was the first reading of a new policy regarding personal communication and electronic devices in schools. The new policy would allow parents or legal guardians to pick up electronics and cellphones at the end of the school day in the event of confiscation.
Disciplinary action such as in-school suspension and alternative school would still be taken if a student uses his or her cellphone or other personal electronic device during school hours.
If this motion ultimately passes, the updated policy will be listed in student handbooks.
John Akers, the system’s maintenance supervisor, gave an update on facilities and construction projects in the school system, including the new entrance, fieldhouse expansion and band room at HCHS.
Akers said the framing for the new high school entrance is done and that the ramp and steps there have been poured. He also said door frames for the band room arrived Thursday.
Lisa Hart presented a memorandum of understanding for the Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act.
Hart said the school system would be recognizing teacher absenteeism and attendance issues. This motion passed and Hart said the system will employ a task force to try and pinpoint the reason behind teacher attendance problems.
The next board meeting is scheduled for July 18 immediately following the board retreat.