BOE discuss construction challenges, teacher shortages

Published 11:21 am Friday, July 28, 2023

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The Butler County Board of Education met on July 20 at 6:00 p.m. and discussed some very important issues on the agenda, including construction challenges and nationwide teacher shortages.

Superintendent Joe Eiland reported some unpleasant developments in the ongoing construction of the new Greenville High School football stadium, and the Mckenzie High School gym. Eiland explained that steps on the staircase at the entrance of the new stadium are sized incorrectly and are not uniform, which means the entire staircase  has to be torn down and replaced. 

“It’s a code issue, safety issue, and an aesthetic issue for some with an eagle eye for construction, because I probably would have never noticed it, but the contractor did,” he said. 

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As for McKenzie, Eiland said the brick masonry work was not up to expectations, and the gym floor is not level. “

All 50,000 bricks have to come off of that building and be replaced, which is no fault of our own,” he said. 

Board member Eric Gomillion cited worker shortages on the projects as a possible cause of the problems. Board member Wayne Boswell pointed out the delays on completion before the upcoming school year. “The good news is the Georgiana press box is complete,” Eiland said.

In other business, Eiland described  the nationwide teacher shortages and its impact on the school system. 

“We’re feeling it to an extent that we never have before in Butler County,” he said. “We’re losing teachers left and right. Some feel they are going where the grass is greener, and I’ll be the first to tell them that it’s not. We are facing great difficulty in finding new teachers to fill all the vacant positions, and that may mean, much larger numbers in classrooms this year.” 

Eiland said even with the apprenticeship program in place, finding qualified applicants is a dilemma.

Board member Michael Nimmer reiterated that while there are some smaller school systems offering $7,500.00 signing bonuses to new teachers, those systems are still coming up way short on filling openings. 

Nimmer added, “If you know anyone that wants to come out of retirement to teach, or is close to finishing their degree, please send them to talk to us.”

The board voted to approve revisions to the Code of Conduct, changes which concerned fighting, dress code, the “bring your own device policy,” grading, promotion and retention policy, and the virtual school policy. Board member Carolyn Crenshaw voted against the revisions, disagreeing with the “bring your own device policy,” as it concerns student’s use of cell phones. Board members related concerns regarding behavior issues, cyberbullying, distractions, and video recording, as a direct result of inappropriate cell phone usage in schools. Crenshaw questioned the protection of students, and their ability to communicate with parents directly during school hours. “We need to make sure we’re protecting students, and not just ourselves,” she said.

The board announced that it is accepting nominations for the Board of Equalization by August 1. This board ensures uniform and equal property tax assessments in the county.

The board also introduced Jared Edge as Mckenzie’s new head baseball coach, and welcomed Analeise Trawick as W.O. Parmer’s newest second grade teacher.