August 26, 2019 — Board Chairman Phillip Beard called the August meeting for the Board of Education to order at 7 p.m. at the Buford City Schools Central Office. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the Board recognized the achievements of the 2019 State AAAAA Girls Track and Field Championship team. Head coach Fyrone Davis gave a short speech recognizing the girls’ amazing accomplishments, as well as, recognizing the assistant coaches and support staff.
The July 2019 meeting minutes and the Agenda were approved followed by a look at the operating budget as of June 30, 2019. Two revisions to policies were approved. The policies essentially remain the same but wording choices were changed. Those policies were for the Drug-Free Workplace and Employee Leaves and Absences. Old Dell monitors and computers were put into surplus for the Buford Senior Academy, as well as, computer cubicles.
Pay requests pertaining to the new Buford High School were approved. Those were for two payments in the amounts of $3,790,855.00 and $1,223,239.00 to Charles Black Construction and one payment of $15,663.56 to Breaux & Associates. Other pay requests for the new BHS were to BLICK Art Materials for $15,989.64, Worthington Direct for $16,737.00, and Henry Schein for $2,433.96. These were all SPLOST V funds. Two pay requests for the middle school were to Charles Black Construction in the amount of $142,270.00 for the roof replacement and $8,831.00 for the construction lab. These were Maintenance and Operations funds. A payment for the air conditioning unit at the Fine Arts Center was approved for $7,757.00. Since the opening of the new BHS, temporary signs have directed people where to go. Permanent signage is being ordered with a 50% deposit down being required. The overall cost of this will be $24,000.00 as the lowest bid with the next bid coming in at over $40,000.00.
The Board approved 19 field trip requests, one fundraiser, and one community service project. The fundraiser is for the high school’s Cape Day to benefit the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. BHS DECA has requested a community service project for the North Gwinnett Co-Op.
Each principal of the five schools gave their reports. Buford Elementary School reports an enrollment of 376. Picture Day is August 22. BES starts their week off with fun activities on Mondays. They will have their parade on September 6 and they will tailgate on September 20 at 5 p.m. for Homecoming. Buford Academy reports an enrollment of 1,172. BA had a successful Curriculum Night. The All-Pro Dad event will take place on September 10. BA will tailgate with BES. Buford Senior Academy reports an enrollment of 802. They had over 800 parents attend their Curriculum Night. Enrollment for the 5th-grade band is 66 students. Mrs. Laura Laws was selected as BSA’s Teacher of the Year. Buford Middle School reports an enrollment of 1,280. BMS experienced 900 car riders on the first day of school and staff have been working hard to improve the car rider line procedures. They too had a successful Curriculum Night. The BMS Band performed in the seventh-inning stretch at the Gwinnett Stripers game recently. Their biggest fundraiser of the year is the Color Run this Friday, August 30. Buford High School reports an enrollment of 1,536. BHS Choral Dept. hosted their annual fundraiser, the Miss Atlanta and Miss Historic Buford pageants at the Fine Arts Center. Three upcoming shows at BHS have had their casts selected. The team for the school’s One Act Play has been selected. Renovations have begun on the baseball field. This concluded the Principal’s Report portion of the meeting.
Agenda items continued with the Superintendent’s Report. An intergovernmental agreement by and between the City of Buford and the Buford City School District for the leasing of certain automobiles was approved. This agreement was made formal for insurance purposes. Due to transporting the football team, band, and cheerleaders to Tom Riden Stadium during home games, the transportation rate had to be adjusted.
To date, the School Nutrition Department has absorbed the convenience fees for My Payments Plus purchases. These fees total approximately $29,000 last year alone. The district proposed that the fee be the responsibility of students’ parents. The proposed this effective in January however, Mr. Beard asked the City Manager, Mr. Bryan Kerlin and City Commissioner Brad Weeks who were both in attendance if they would consider having the City pick up the cost of the fees for this school year. They agreed to foot the bill saving the parents of the school system this fee for one more year. The topic will be revisited for the 2020-2021 school year.
The school system had to revise it’s FY17 Buford City Schools Capital Outlay Application which tells the state of Georgia what the purpose of each classroom is for. To date, the school system has hosted 26 events in which parents could visit the schools and become better acquainted with their child’s school, teacher, and curriculum. The district moved four schools and 260 teachers over the summer. The district’s custodial staff were the MVP’s of this summer’s building moves. A huge thank you to Dennis Murray and his staff of custodians. Without them, the moves would not have happened so smoothly.
The school district has beat its projected opening day enrollment and has had to hire an additional 46 staff members including teachers and support staff.
This concluded the regular business of the meeting. Mr. Beard asked if any candidates for the School Board were present at the meeting. Besides current Board member Daren Perkins, two other candidates were present. They were asked to come to the front to introduce themselves. The first candidate to come forward was a Buford High School graduate Matt Peevy. He has a daughter in Kindergarten at BES and she is a fifth-generation Peevy going through Buford schools. He graduated from the University of Georgia. Mr. Peevy owns an environmental restoration firm with several locations including an office in Georgia, Nashville, and Raleigh. He has served on numerous government and nongovernmental committees for environmental issues. His father was once the City Manager for Buford, he has a sister and sister-in-law that teaches at Buford. The second candidate to come forward was Lien Diaz, a mother of four children attending Buford schools with the eldest in middle school. She taught middle school and high school math and science, as well as, coached several sports. She then got into teacher professional development in Texas. She currently works at Georgia Tech as the Director of the Center for Equity Computing. Daren Perkins spoke briefly as well. The two additional candidates were not in attendance.
One parent asked about whether or not they would get an updated schedule for bus pick up times. Another parent thanked the Board of Education and District staff for the work they have put in this year and how the schools make the parents feel welcomed. Nicolas Harrison, a tuition-paying parent addressed some concerns. He has noticed that the meeting minutes that are posted on the district’s website do not include the post-meeting topics brought up by audience members. The Board says they have never included the post-meeting topics and that these meetings are open to the public to attend. He asked about diversity in the new hires. Dr. Downs stated that staff members attended several hiring events and approached historically Black colleges in an effort to hire more diverse candidates. He asked that in the future more notice be given about future elections. Mr. Beard said that election notices were controlled by the Board of Elections and the Clerk’s Office. Mr. Harrison had no further matters to address.
With no other meeting attendees wishing to make a comment, the meeting was adjourned. The next Buford Board of Education meeting takes place on September 23, 2019, at 7 p.m. at the Buford City Schools Central Office located at 2625 Sawnee Avenue.
— Staff Reports