Plans underway for Festival Off Main
It may seem like a long way to December, but plans are already in the works for the annual Festival Off Main Street celebration in Thomson.
A kickoff meeting was held Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the Thomson Depot. For 2006, the festival will be split over two days, a Friday and a Saturday. The tree lighting, a "Visit with Santa Claus" and children's activities, including a Children's Shop, will be held the first Friday in December. Saturday will be the festival with the Depot Dash, arts and crafts, artwork, food and the Christmas parade.
Also, a few surprises are being planned for this year's festival. The festival committees are now being set up and anyone wishing to volunteer to be on a committee is asked to call the Thomson McDuffie Chamber of Commerce at 597-1000.
School system to request annexation
The Board of Education voted in the January meeting to authorize Superintendent Dr. Mark Petersen to petition the City of Thomson for the annexation of board-owned property.
The BOE owns land on White Oak Road that is to be used for the construction of a new junior high school. A portion of the property lies within the City of Thomson, and the remainder is within McDuffie County. Annexation would allow the board to utilize services provided by the City of Thomson.
School system develops program to battle teacher turnover
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission has adopted professional standards published by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. These adopted standards include the special Georgia Requirements as the basis for approval.
In McDuffie County, the turnover rate among classroom teachers is 10 percent for the past five years. Last year, 75 percent of new teachers in the system had less than three years experience.
Dr. Margie Waters, assistant superintendent for human resources for McDuffie County, developed a Teacher Support Specialist Endorsement Program to be submitted to the GPSC. The 59-page program provides evidence of how teachers can demonstrate competency and meet standards for interns and uses veteran teachers as mentors for new teachers.
Dr. Waters' application is submitted solely on behalf of McDuffie County Schools to support the needs of the system, rather than using the one adopted by the GPSC. McDuffie's application addresses the eight standards established by the GPSC board.
"Doing our own allows us to control who becomes our mentors," Dr. Waters said.
Chairman Jerry Randolph said the school board thanks Dr. Waters for her hard work in creating the TSS program at no additional cost to the system.
In other action, the personnel department partnered with GeorgiaHire to post job vacancies at individual colleges and universities. GeorgiaHire provides free access to 10,000 resumes of students and alumni from all public and private institutions in the state.
New buses purchased
Five school buses will be rotated out and replaced in the McDuffie County fleet. The State of Georgia allocates funds each year to the school board for the purchase of new buses.
A contract for four 66-passenger buses was awarded to Nalley Motor Trucks for $267,400. The board selected Nalley because most of the buses in the fleet are from Nalley, and parts and supplies are already in stock at the school system's bus barn.
Thomas Bus Sales was awarded the contract for one 84-passenger bus. Thomas' bid came in lowest at $76,996. The prices fall within the amount budgeted for purchase.
BOE meetings go online
The board of education will make use of a grant allowing them to use eBoard free for one year. The online resource program is offered by the Georgia School Board Association. Membership in eBoard allows the McDuffie School Board to post board meeting agendas, documents and minutes online. It will allow the McDuffie board to see how school boards in other districts are conducting their meetings and get ideas from what they are doing. eBoard has different viewing options, one for public view and the other for board member view. In the board member version, each member has a "sticky note" icon that allows that member to make personal notes viewable only by themselves.
The program also assesses if the school system is attaining its goals, and how much of the decisions discussed and time spent in meetings is tied toward the specific goals. The cost for eBoard is $4,500 per year.
"It's going to help us, because it helps us determine through a score card at the end of the year how much of our meetings are tied into our school goals," Dr. Mark Petersen, school superintendent said.
The program was introduced by the GSBA in 2002, rounding out its package of online resources which includes eBoard, eLaw and ePolicy. According to Dr. Petersen, McDuffie County already utilizes eLaw, an online guide to school law in Georgia, written by Harben and Hartley, GSBA's general counsel.
Dr. Petersen said McDuffie County will begin using ePolicy "within a month." ePolicy provides easy access and maintenance to school policies online, and eliminates maintaining voluminous paper manuals. eLaw costs $500 per year and the price of ePolicy varies according to use, according to Dr. Petersen.
Skills competition at Augusta Tech
More than 200 high school students - including several from Thomson High School - are set to participate in the the Region 6 "Skills USA" competition next week.
The event is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, at Augusta Technical College in Augusta.
The competition focuses on 20 subjects that will primarily focus on hands-on skills requiring operational knowledge, critical thinking, and the ability to produce documents and displays.
Sponsors for the event include colleges, high schools, and businesses throughout the Central Savannah River Area as well as in other areas of the state.