June 8, 2020 — Buford City Schools Board of Education Chairman Mr. Phillip Beard called the June 2020 meeting to order at noon at the Buford City Arena. The meeting is the first in-person meeting since COVID-19 forced all meetings to be held virtually.
Following the pledge, the agenda and meeting minutes from May 18 were approved. The operating budget is still looking good with the balance at just over $12 million.
The Board reviewed and approved the renewals of various software and services of that software for FY21. The Board also approved FY21 infrastructure upgrades and hardware purchases.
New hot water heaters are needed for Buford Academy and Buford Middle. The cost for BA is $27,000 and the cost for BMS is $13,750. These purchases were given approval. Also, the gym floors at the various schools will be undergoing maintenance with some floors being done over the summer and the remainder over Thanksgiving break. This general maintenance and repair item was approved.
The Principals elected BES Principal Mark Graves to give a brief update from them. Current enrollment numbers are BES Daycare – 100; BES – Kindergarten – 274; BA – 1,182; BSA – 826; BMS – 1,222; BHS – 1,496. Summer school is being handled virtually this year and is in full swing.
The Board approved the 1st Stop Georgia Teen Driving Academy pay request for the Spring session for $6,000. The Board also voted to proceed with the Gwinnett SPLOST Agreement which will call for an election on the sales tax. The SPLOST is for five years and will be voted on in November. A four-day workweek was approved for all full-time employees for the last two weeks in July.
A part of the massive federal funds that were approved for the COVID-19 emergency stimulus package was earmarked for education. That program is called the CARES Act which sends each state money and the state will then use a formula based on Title I to disperse the funds to the school districts. Buford City Schools received a one-time grant of $480,000. BCS is still looking into how they plan on utilizing the funds. They have guidelines on how they must spend the money.
Dr. Lacrecia Smith gave a brief update on the Diversity and Inclusion Program. Plans for staff training when school resumes are in the works. A recent newsletter was sent out to parents within the district over recent events. Mr. Beard asked Dr. Smith how long she has been in the school system. Dr. Smith attended Buford City Schools all throughout her K-12 career and later returned to Buford to teach. She spent 13 years being educated at Buford and 24 years as an educator at BCS totaling 38 years that Dr. Smith has been a part of BCS.
Board Member, Ms. Pat Pirkle stated that she has reached 60 years spent working in some capacity at Buford City Schools.
Dr. Downs took a moment to go over the district’s plans for getting back to school this fall. He stated that the district plans on resuming in-person instruction on August 5. They have reviewed all of the CDC and State of Georgia guidelines for schools to resume in-person instruction. BCS will do everything they can possibly do to protect their staff and students. Dr. Downs said they have three things that are part of their plans; shoring up technology, communication, and flexibility. The district has made significant investments in improving digital learning in the event that they have to go back to digital learning whether it be a pandemic or a snow day. Communication between the district and parents is more important than ever. Dr. Downs stressed flexibility for all parties from staff to students to parents as the situation is an evolving one and things could change.
Board Member Matt Peevy asked about being able to use part of the CARES Act money to fund summer meals for students in need. He mentioned that the North Gwinnett Co-Op has been under a huge strain due to COVID-19 and that he feels that the need for school lunches during the summer is still there. Mr. Beard asked the school staff to look into whether or not they can find the funding and staff to make that happen. While digital learning was taking place at the end of the school year, 53,000 meals were served over nine weeks to district students.
The meeting adjourned at this time and the Board went into an executive session.
The next Buford Board of Education meeting will take place at noon on July 20, 2020, at the Buford City Arena. The meeting is open to the public. Masks are encouraged.
— Staff Reports