System-wide free lunch program ends Jan. 1

The Floyd County Board of Education broke ground on a new competition gymnasium Tuesday night for Armuchee High School, gathering inside the school afterwards for their monthly board meeting.

Students, faculty, parents and other members of the Armuchee community gathered at the school to watch as Floyd County Schools officials thanked them and voters across the county for voting to make this project possible. The project is being funded by ELOST, and depending on weather is scheduled to be completed in about 16 months.

Inside, the members met for their caucus where members were shown a 3D rendering of the construction of the gym as well as a simulated finished inside. Facilities Manager David Van Hook reported Pepperell Middle School construction is happening on schedule while the drainage project at Pepperell Primary is nearly complete. He also made the board aware the Midway school building is being checked for asbestos and the board is currently planning to tear the building down. They will decide at a later date whether or not to sell the property.

Chief Academic Officer John Parker gave the board a breakdown on how the county school system is doing academically in comparison to the state and other schools in the Northwest Georgia Regional Education Service Agency. Parker told the board the College and Career Ready Performance Index for FCS is fourth in the RESA and 37th overall in the state of Georgia.

“That means we’re pretty good. Pretty good is not where we want to be,” he said.

This is the second year in a row FCS has surpassed the state numbers, he added, which is a first time for the school system. FCS is only four points away from being in the top 20 in the state. This is a goal Parker thinks is attainable in a year.

The school system is also on track or supersedes state test averages including SAT and ACT scores. Armuchee High School averaged the best test scores out of all high schools in the school system on both SAT and ACT scores, Parker said. School Superintendent Jeff Wilson added that encourages all students to takes those tests regardless on if it raises or lowers the schools state-wide average.

“We are not going to play that game where we keep the top scores in the state because we don’t let kids take those tests,” Wilson said. “We will do both, increase our kids and increase our scores.”

During the official board meeting, members voted unanimously to end the system-wide free lunch program while leaving the free breakfast portion in place.

Since the program has now been cut, board members will immediately begin collecting applications for eligible students to continue receiving free lunches. School lunch prices will be $2.25 for elementary students, $2.50 for middle and high school students and allowing a reduced lunch rate of $.40 for applicable students starting Jan. 1. Wilson said the schools will be flexible for the first couple of months and no student would go hungry because they weren’t aware of the policy change or did not have lunch money.

The reason for this program being cut was the school system was no longer being reimbursed by the state for the free lunch program because FCS no longer had students at a certain percentage. The school system will revisit the issue if the percentage meets state requirements, however, for now they will try to stabilize their food service budget.

Lastly the board reviewed first and second readings of policy updates for sick leave and employee dismissal policies. Two Floyd County Board of Education members were re-elected in Tuesday’s mid-term race. Both ran unopposed. Chip Hood from District 1 and Tony Daniel of District 4 have both been re-elected to the Floyd County School Board for another term.