DeKalb Schools to be Closed for the Solar Eclipse

August 10, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Board of Education and Director of Schools

DeKalb County students will get a day off from school on Monday, August 21 thanks to the Solar Eclipse.

The Board of Education Thursday night voted to consider the date as an inclement weather day and no classes will be held.

In a statement on behalf of the Board, fourth district member Kate Miller said “DeKalb County Schools had originally planned to have school on the day of the Solar Eclipse August 21 and viewed this as an educational opportunity for our students. However, we have realized there are many challenges related to transportation, staffing, and attendance, all of which could impact student safety. It is still our plan to provide safety viewing instructions and supplemental educational resources for our 3,000 students in the days leading up to the Eclipse. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our students and their families.”

Although the proper viewing glasses may have been available that day to students at school, concerns remained about the safety risk of students and potential liability to the district. No decision has yet been made as to whether the school system will provide viewing glasses for students to take home to view the eclipse.

The school calendar includes thirteen days that can be used for inclement weather without any makeup days. One of those days had already been designated as a stockpile day for professional development. After the solar eclipse day, the school system will still have eleven inclement weather days left to use.

In other business, The DeKalb Prevention Coalition has been given permission by the school board to survey students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades as a means of compiling data for obtaining grants and developing initiatives toward curbing teen drug and alcohol abuse.

Students will not be required to participate

“We will be sending out letters for permission so if you do not wish for your child to take part in this survey you can send the letter back and they will not be required to do the survey,” said Director of Schools Patrick Cripps.

“The state has offered this survey and for the coalition to have a clear vision of where we want to go with this and plan very strategically, we must have the data. This is the way we want to get the data,” said Lisa Cripps, Coordinator of the DeKalb Prevention Coalition.

Questions on the survey are intended to capture data regarding alcohol, tobacco, and other drug consumption and provide valuable insight into the number of teens using or abusing these substances. While the survey is anonymous, the information it provides will be useful in strategizing how to reach those at risk of abusing drugs and alcohol and developing an addiction.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps gave his monthly report on personnel to the Board.

Those employed since last month are as follows:

Christina Ferguson, teacher at Smithville Elementary School

Cristy Spears, teacher at Smithville Elementary School

MyKayla Duke, teacher at Smithville Elementary School

Tony Poss, bus driver

Amy Fricks, teacher at DCHS, replacing Jacob Parsley

Samantha Fletcher, DCHS, replacing Jim Porter

Deborah Autry, DeKalb Middle School behavior teacher

Tommy Hinch, DCHS replacing Michael Shaw

Melanie Fitzgerald, DeKalb Middle School librarian

Erin Turner, educational assistant at DCHS

Clifton Burum, teacher at DCHS replacing Debra Gentry

Lori Gallagher, bus driver

Donna Smith, cafeteria

Norma Dyer, cafeteria

Barbara Weller, teacher at DCHS

Callie Herman, teacher at DeKalb Middle School

Teresa Jones, teacher at DeKalb Middle School

Alyssa Leslie, teacher at DeKalb Middle School

Cindy Herman, educational assistant

Holly Mooney, sign language interpreter at Northside Elementary School

Loretta Young, cafeteria

Elizabeth Lewis, teacher at DCHS replacing Audry Welch

Courtney Reynolds, part-time cafeteria at DeKalb West School

Substitutes:
Guylene Atnip, Walter Burton, Carolyn Caldwell, Ginger Caplinger, Brenda Colwell, Donna Davis, Linda Dean, Jayme Dowell, Suzanne Dunn, Donna Evans, Amanda Ford, Debbie France, Carol Hale, Charlene Hallum, Karri Harris, Sherry Hattaway, Jean Hope, Brandi Johnson, Dale Johnson, Isabella Johnson, Rachel Johnson, Sabrina Kirksey, Chris Moore, Kandis Moss, Angela Osment, Pat Parkerson, Bethany Poss, Jessica Rackley, Judy Redmon, Joyce Robertson, Virginia Rose, Kim Taylor, Jan Thomas, Luanna Tollett, Jenny Trapp, Joy Troncoso, Wanda Vickers, Miranda Waggoner, and Kim Young.

Cafeteria substitutes:
Maria Garza and Peggy Sutton

Transfers:
Whitney Brelje, teacher to DeKalb West School

Amanda Dakas, principal at DeKalb Middle School

Tad Webb, assistant principal at DeKalb Middle School

Sarah Noe, teacher at Smithville Elementary School

Victoria Vincent, from substitute to educational assistant at Smithville Elementary School

Stephanie Fuson from educational assistant to special education teacher at DCHS

Jimmy Poss from substitute bus driver to full time bus driver

Melissa Wallace from substitute to educational assistant at Northside Elementary School

Julie Hale from substitute to educational assistant at DeKalb West School

Stephanie Stewart from substitute to educational assistant at DeKalb West School replacing Stephanie Fuson

Cathy Driver from substitute bus driver to full time driver

Josh Brown from substitute bus driver to full time driver

Resignations/Retirement:

Deborah Cunningham, educational assistant at DCHS

Tiffany VanWinkle, educational assistant at DCHS, alternative school

Mary Ann Puckett, art teacher at DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb West School

Laura Parker, pre-K teacher at Smithville Elementary School

Megan Jones, teacher at Smithville Elementary School

Jenny Elrod, teacher at DeKalb Middle School

Four of the principals gave brief reports on activities at their schools.

"What a great start we have had this week,' said Sabrina Farler of DeKalb West School. " I’d like to say a special thanks to our parents. We re-routed our car lines. A couple of years ago we had the construction but now we are entering and exiting at the main entrance. Thank you parents and grandparents for making that a great transition and a great week with us. We want to invite you to our open house on Thursday, August 24 from 5 until 6:30 p.m." she said.

"I’d like to thank our custodians," said Julie Vincent of Smithville Elementary School. "They worked very hard this summer getting the school looking magnificent. In fact someone came in the other day and asked if we had new tile put down in the lobby because it looked so nice. Thank you to each of the custodians. I want to welcome new employees to Smithville Elementary School. We have Sarah Noe who is going to be in our special education department, Christina Ferguson in first grade and Cristy Spears and MyKayla Duke who will be teaching kindergarten. We are excited to have them join us at Smithville Elementary. With the beginning of school its always a long line in the car line so we are asking parents who pick up their children to please be patient as we get the car line going and to please not block the entrances and exits to Smithville Elementary School so the buses can get in and out. Its also for safety. If we had to have an emergency vehicle get in we would need those entrances open so they could get in," she said.

"At DeKalb County High School we are trying to get schedules situated and kids in classes," said Principal Randy Jennings. "I would like to thank the faculty and staff for welcoming me to the high school. It has been a good transition so far. The football jamboree is Friday night at Baxter. We play at 6:00 p.m. against Clay County. On Saturday the girls soccer team is having a play day which is at home and their first regular season game is next Tuesday, also at home. If you can come out and support them," he said.

"We have had a wonderful start at the middle school this year,' said DeKalb Middle School Principal Amanda Dakas. 'I would also like to thank the faculty, staff, parents, and the entire community for embracing me and Tad Webb as the new administrators of the school. They have been wonderful. The students have been excellent. Their behavior yesterday and today, we could not be more proud. Today specifically we had our very first back to school and first football game pep rally and the student behavior was phenomenal. The staff were very excited. Seventh grade students will be going to the Tennessee Tech University Stem Program field trip on August 17 & 18. It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students. Our homecoming week will be coming up at the end of this month August 28-31 and our homecoming game will be August 31 starting at 6:30 p.m. I would also like to take this time to welcome all of our new teachers. Teresa Jones is teaching seventh grade math. She has jumped right in and everyone loves her. Melanie Fitzgerald is our new librarian. She has done a phenomenal job. Deborah Autry is in our special education class. Callie Herman is our new ESL teacher. Cindy Miller is an ESL educational assistant and Alyssa Young Leslie is also doing some inclusion classes as well. We are very happy to have them on board," she said.

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