BOE holds public comment meeting

Published 3:23 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Chilton County Board of Education’s semi-annual meeting for public comment was a time of thanks and updates to the board.

The meeting, held on May 16, was an open opportunity for anyone in attendance to address the board. No votes or decisions could be made.

Cynthia Foshee, who said she was speaking on behalf of Jackie Parker who could not be in attendance, thanked the board for its recent vote to include teacher assistants and additional employees in the step-pay plan next year. These employees had been the only ones not on the plan.

“Thank you on behalf of the teacher assistants, the bus drivers and the bus assistants. We want to say thank you for getting on the ball and getting the raise on the way now. We sure do appreciate that, ” Foshee said.

Foshee is in her 22nd year as a teacher’s assistant.

Clanton Middle teacher and coach Thomas Hughes thanked the board for its continued support of the basketball program offered through a partnership with the YMCA. There were more than 100 participants last year.

Updates were given on the Think First, Stay Safe program, which was implemented in every elementary school in order to comply with Erin’s Law.

“I just want to thank the board for the funding that they did for Erin’s Law,” Thorsby teacher Angie Barnett said.

Barnett taught the Think First, Stay Safe prevention program at Thorsby for 10 years before Erin’s Law made such a program mandatory. She encouraged teachers present to ask her any questions they had about teaching the program.

She said the program has given students the opportunity to “rewrite their story.”

Butterfly Bridge Executive director Jana Zuelzke, who had worked with the school system in implementing the program, gave an update on the impact the Children’s Advocacy Center has seen.

“The last two weeks there have been multiple reports made by either family, students or teachers due to this education about child sexual abuse, how to prevent it, how to talk about it if it is happening,” Zuelzke said.

Some of these children have gone to Butterfly Bridge and “are now receiving the interventions they need to heal and move forward,” according to Zuelzke.

Updates were also given by Meghan Owens on the Jemison Preschool program, which is completing its first year, and John Scott about his experience in the academy program at LeCroy Career Tech Center.

“It’s opened up a lot of doors to me,” Scott said.

Chris Smith asked the board to consider more coaches for Chilton County High School, CMS and other high schools. He said there were many students who were interested in a sport, but could not play because there were not enough coaches.

He suggested that with more funds for coaching supplements ninth grade teams could be developed to give more students the chance to be on a team.

Additional coaches at the middle school level, Smith said, would mean students were more ready to play at the high school level. A list proposed by Smith asked for 24 more coaching supplements. Volunteer coaches could also be used, since all paid Chilton County coaches are teachers, Smith said.