Kim Fraker was approved by the Gordon County Board of Education to be their new superintendent during their June meeting. The budget for the next academic year was also approved by board members, as well as bids for a new freezer and technology upgrades.
On May 23, Fraker was announced as the board's nomination for the position of superintendent. In accordance with state law, Fraker remained the finalist for the position for 14 days before being approved to fill current Superintendent Susan Remillard's shoes. Remillard will be retiring in July, leaving time for her to help Fraker transition into the position.
Fraker has previously served Bartow County Schools as chief of leadership and learning. Fraker is married to Cpt. Jim Fraker of the Sandy Springs Police Department, and the couple has three children.
Upon relocating to Gordon County, Fraker said she hopes to get involved in many organizations and get plugged in to the local community.
Fraker was at Monday's board meeting with her husband, and after the meeting concluded she greeted district staff, board members and local citizens, expressing her excitement of being the new superintendent.
Also at the board meeting, the budget for the next year was approved, thought not without a comment from the public. During the meeting, the board offered the chance for the public to provide input on the proposed budget that was discussed during their May meeting.
Justin Owen, the president and owner of Calhoun-based Owen Security, expressed "professional and personal" concerns regarding the budget and what he interpreted as a lack of security monitoring for the district.
"The 2020 budget does not include security monitoring, meaning an intruder can walk into the school in the middle of the night and do as they please," Owen said. "There will be no panic button system, no emergency system, no monitoring whatsoever."
Owen was interrupted by the district's attorney Elinor Portivent, who said the public comments must address actual terms of the proposed budget, not what's not in it.
"It does relate to the budget," Owen said. "We would be the first jurisdiction in the state and country to reduce security since Columbine, in this day and age with all the school shootings."
Without responding to Owen's concerns, the board approved the proposed budget. Board member Eddie Hall did express concerns that there was only one meeting to discuss the budget, with "no opportunity to offer up changes."
Though Hall did vote in favor of the budget, realizing the board needed to move on, he did want to have more time to look at the budget and consider some of the major expenses.
"I want to make it a priority looking forward when we have work sessions that the board will have more input (on the budget)," Hall said. "That's really one of our biggest jobs."
According to Director of Finance Mendy Goble, the main updates for next year's budget include raises for both certified and classified employees. Following teachers' raises approved by Gov. Brian Kemp and district-appointed raises, each certified teacher and administrator in Gordon County Schools will be receiving a raise of $3,210 this year.
Classified staff – including bus drivers, secretaries, custodians, paraprofessionals, cafeteria staff and uncertified instructors – will receive a 3 percent raise. The state required the district to increase their input into the Teachers Retirement System from 20.9 percent of each employee's salary to 21.14 percent.
Goble also said in May that there have been a few requests to increase security at school entrances, new furniture items and basic maintenance objects. Security at the schools will be aided by $30,000 that Kemp allocated to each public school specifically for that issue, which will total $330,000 for Gordon County Schools.
In other news, the board approved a bid for a new walk-in cooler and freezer for Gordon Central High School, which will cost a total of $77,474.61, and also a technology upgrade project, which will cost a total of $1,968,176.20.
The price of lunches for the next academic year will increase by 10 cents, with elementary lunches raising to $2.15, and middle and high school lunches raising to cost $2.40. Betsy Martin, the director of school nutrition for Gordon County Schools, said the district hadn't raised the cost of lunches for at least a year and reported that 60-70 percent of students buy lunches at school.
Remillard was also provided with a resolution of appreciation for her time working for the district as the superintendent. The board thanked her for 12 years of dedication and service.
"It was a privilege and an honor to serve," Remillard said.
Research has proven that students who don't read throughout the summer can lose reading progress that they gained during the school year, according to Nyala Edwards.
In order to increase literacy, maintain progress made and improve students' reading levels, the Calhoun-Gordon County Public Library is hosting a free summer reading program for all age groups. Library staff not only want to challenge students to read during summer months but also aim to demonstrate how reading outside the classroom is critical for education.
Edwards, who works as the library's manager, said she hopes adults will sign up for the program as well as younger children and teenagers.
"Children and teens tend to read more when adults in their lives encourage them to read, and also when they see those adults reading often themselves," Edwards said. "We ask that (adults) set the standard for the importance of reading and to be an example to our children and youth to enable them to recognize that reading is for a lifetime."
The program encourages registered participants to log the hours they've read over the summer in order to enter into a grand prize drawing at the end of the summer. Children fifth grade or younger must read 12.25 hours to be entered into the drawing and teenagers and adults must read 24.5 hours by July 22.
Time spent reading must be written down on a reading log provided by the library, and "extra credit" book reviews may also be turned in for a chance to be published on the library's social media pages and to be entered into an additional prize drawing.
To sign up for the reading program, visit the library, 100 N. Park Ave., or visit http://ngrl.org and click on the summer reading tab. Reading logs are available at the library.
The library is also offering other free activities throughout the summer, including performances at the GEM Theater, summer feeding programs, free English as a Second Language classes and mobile labs from the Georgia Department of Labor.
The GEM will host special presentations, free for children 11 years old and younger, which will be every Monday at 11 a.m. at the theater. This Monday live animals will be at the GEM for "Animal Adventures with Robin Pressley-Keough."
On weekdays the library hosts breakfasts from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and lunches from noon to 1:30 p.m., with food provided by Calhoun City Schools as a part of their feeding
programs. Meals are available to any children 18 or younger.
ESOL classes are on Saturdays during the summer from 10 a.m. until noon, and the Department of Labor's mobile lab will be available to help anyone creating resumes, searching for jobs or interviewing for various positions.
For the full calendar of summer events hosted by the Calhoun-Gordon County Public Library visit http://ngrl.org/events.
On Thursday, June 6, Gov. Brian Kemp conducted swearing-in ceremonies for 12 appointments to boards and councils, and Debra Brock, principal of Red Bud Elementary School, was among those appointed.
Brock will serve as the representative for the 14th Congressional District on the board of Early Care and Learning.
The board supports and guides the mission and vision of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, which works to enhance children's early educational experiences to promote their academic, social, emotional and physical development in partnership with families, communities, the early care and education industry and stakeholders.
"This was a very momentous occasion for me both personally and professionally," Brock said. "I was able to share this moment with my family and colleagues."
Brock said she has been blessed by a "supportive group of family and friends" throughout her career and she is grateful to the Gordon County School system and the staff of Red Bud Elementary, who have offered her the opportunity to grow professionally.
Brock was nominated for this appointment by U.S. Rep. Tom Graves. After submission of required documentation, Brock learned of her selection for the appointment on May 16.
"Having seen Debra's commitment to early childhood education and development first hand at Red Bud Elementary, I knew Georgia's parents and kids would benefit from her compassion and experience," said Graves. "I applaud Gov. Kemp's decision to recognize and appoint Debra. I know she will do a wonderful job making sure our community's youngest minds are 'Bright from the Start.'"
Brock ventured into the world of education as an elementary school teacher following a career in the private sector. Since she joined Gordon County Schools in 2006 Brock has served as a teacher, instructional coach and administrator.
"Caring for the needs of children has been the focus of my life since my own children were born," Brock said.
"After having the opportunity to impact the lives of children for the past 20 years professionally, I look forward to serving on the board to be the voice of our youngest children in the 14th Congressional District and having a much larger platform to advocate for all children."
Not only was she at the top of her graduating high school class, but Emma Kate Smith was also the only Gordon County representative and the only local young woman to be recognized at a ceremony last week hosted by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Georgia.
On Thursday, Graves held a send-off dinner in Calhoun to honor students who were appointed to attend a U.S. military academy in the fall. Eight students from the 14th Congressional District were nominated by Graves and were appointed to the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy and the Military Academy.
Smith, who will attend the U.S. Air Force Academy, graduated from Calhoun High less than a month ago at the top of her class and spoke at the commencement ceremony. She said prior to graduating that her dream occupation was to design aircraft as an aeronautical engineer for the Air Force or an aerospace company.
At the ceremony, Smith and the seven other selected young men heard from Class of 2019 Service Academy graduates who had previously been nominated by Graves. The representative also shared a few words, recognizing the academic accomplishments of the eight who would be soon heading to their respective schools.
"Our servicemen and women are truly some of the best this nation has to offer," Graves said. "Especially as we honor the 75th anniversary of D-Day, it's fitting that these young men and women are taking their first steps to join an elite group who have dedicated their lives in service of our country."
As a member of Congress, Graves is responsible for nominating students in his district to military academies, using a board of military advisers to determine which
students should be nominated. Following receiving nominations from across the country, each military academy chooses which students to appoint and enroll in their school.
Each academy provides students with a four-year college education and military officer training, all while offering tuition waivers and covering other expenses during college years. In exchange for their degree, academy students commit to five years of active duty service following their graduation.
"It's an honor to have nominated these outstanding students to our service academies," Graves said. "I know they have bright and proud futures ahead of them."
Along with Smith, attending the Air Force Academy will be Andy Ledbetter of Paulding County, Colton Woods of Polk County and Justin Waldman, also of Paulding County. Ryan Craft, of Catoosa County, will attend the Naval Academy.
Malachi Wright, of Paulding County, will attend the Military Academy. Gavin Nix, of Bartow County, and John Buckley, of Henry County, will both attend the Merchant Marine Academy.