School board reviews year

Published 8:27 pm Friday, March 21, 2014

Superintendent of Decatur County Schools, Dr. Fred H. Rayfield has a job for next year. The school board members conducted an evaluation of his job performance in executive meeting prior to the scheduled board meeting Thursday night.
At the close of the board meeting, Dr. Sidney Cochran announced that Rayfield had received an excellent annual review from board members. The review was then approved, and Cochran announced, “Superintendent Rayfield will have a job for next year. We are all very pleased with his service and look forward to his working with us through June 2017.”
A list of his activities and accomplishments for the 2013-2014 academic year include some major steps. Citing just a few:
• All Decatur County Schools achieved Advanced Ed System accreditation and Georgia Commission accreditation, and all board members earned quality board certification with the Georgia School Board Association.
• School safety was stepped up in several areas. Safe and secure main entrances were installed at five schools. A system safety brochure developed and distributed to all students and families. All school safety plans and procedures were revised and updated and participation in a mock safety drill was held with Memorial Hospital, Bainbridge Public Safety and Bainbridge Middle School. There was increased presence of law enforcement officers at elementary schools and an additional school resource officer position was created. All Decatur County School have completed up-to-date inspections and have received approval by the office of the State Fire Marshall. Rayfield praised the work of all the school principals for completing the last project.
•  Most visible and time consuming has been the Jones Wheat Elementary School project, which is on schedule for a July 1, 2014 completion with no change orders to date.
An update report given in the board meeting by Jerry Mills, head of school maintenance, indicated the roofing is being done this week and that the center section and west wing are blocked in and fire rated. He expects to begin painting within two weeks, weather permitting.
Other action items approved by the board were:
• Approval of the FY13 Audit Report
• Approval of furniture bids for the Jones Wheat Elementary project. Innovative Furniture Solutions received the bid of $272,113 for providing classroom and miscellaneous furnishings, while Tri State Office Supply in Bainbridge submitted the successful bid of $35,529 for the office furnishings. Rayfield noted in the work session, “We will not be moving any old worn out furniture to Jones Wheat.”
• Approval of Out of State Field Trips – John Johnson Elementary Explo students will take a trip to Panacea, Fla. April 29; BHS Seniors to Orlando, Fla. May 2-3; and BHS AF JROTC to Daytona Beach May 2-4.
A group of four students from West Bainbridge Elementary presented a skit called “Oh the places we will go with Common Core” and launched a toy rocketship by stepping on a pressurized plastic soda bottle.
Kelly Harvey spoke at the public participation portion, representing a small group of concerned parents and students. She read a presentation arguing for the return of graduation ceremonies to Centennial Field. Primary concern was space allotments for families who have large numbers wishing to attend, and what is considered to be limited space in the gymnasium, as well as sentimental reasons for those who have been active on the field during their school years.
The graduation conversation continued following the meeting as approximately six persons approached board member Bobby Barber to continue to push their case.
Barber addressed their concerns by explaining that the Decatur County School Board is ultimately liable for the safety and wellbeing of everyone who attends any school function. “Over the years we have had heat related illnesses. One person died in the stands. It could have been heat related, we don’t know. Two years ago we had a weather forecast of zero percent chance of rain. Then one of the worst storms we have ever seen, with rain and lightning, happened right over Centennial Field during graduation.” Barber has pointed out another benefit to the ceremony being held in the gymnasium, besides being air conditioned — it gives them the ability to stream it live world-wide. “Over 400 watched it via the web last year. We can’t do that at Centennial Field.”
As far as the space issue goes, Barber said last year the gymnasium was not full and that the school had extra tickets to give out on the day of graduation.
“A lot of the students and families have deadlines to meet following graduation. They may have airline tickets to travel and if we have to put off graduation because of rain they are out of luck.” He concluded his statements by saying, “We had tons of people thank us last year for moving graduation into the gymnasium.”
In recognition of Georgia School Board Appreciation Week, board members were given a reception prior to the meetings, and presented with small gift bags at the close of the meeting.

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