School board briefed on accreditation process

Consultant Jean Lollar from the Auburn-based Strategic Solutions LLC. conducts a presentation for the Fort Payne school board at Thursday’s meeting. She briefed members about an on-site visit scheduled for April 25th by a specially trained team from Cognia, which evaluates and certifies schools through accreditation.

Accreditation is a voluntary quality assurance process to document achievements and encourages high performance standards with a focus on continuous improvement by school systems. Consultant Jean Lollar from the Auburn-based Strategic Solutions LLC. briefed the Fort Payne school board at Thursday’s meeting on what to expect during the April 25th evaluation visit by a specially trained team from Cognia.

To become accredited, school systems must meet minimal requirements such as compliance with governmental requirements, non-discriminatory admission of students, demonstrated integrity and due process systems, and retention of operating, financial, personnel and student records. Cognia does for K-12 education what the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) does for higher education. School board members (who are appointed by the Fort Payne City Council) are required to complete annual training on a variety of topics as part of their public service. 

Lollar said many of the ongoing and current activities by the City schools are helpful to gaining continued accreditation, from tangible strategic long-term planning to drafted blueprints of future projects recently completed or in the works, etc. She coached board members on how they may choose to answer questions they may be asked by the evaluators. Ultimately, accreditation offers the public accountability for responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars with strong ethical and performance standards. 

In other business, the board:

• accepted the resignation of Marsha Phillips, effective Jan. 1, on the occasion of her retirement as manager of the Fort Payne High School lunchroom. 

• While discussing operations at school cafeterias, Fort Payne Superintendent Brian Jett praised Child Nutrition Program personnel and told the Board they are prepared to return to plates cleaned in dishwashers in response to supply chain shortages of disposable Styrofoam plates. Jett also used his reporting time to recite a long list of recent student achievements. 

• moved Technology Coordinator Greg Titshaw and psychometrist/administrator Christy Jackson to the newly created Central Office Administrative Assistant salary schedule. 

• approved the following personnel transfers effective Jan. 3, 2022: Jamie McClung, from full-time to half-time STEM teacher at Fort Payne High School as he becomes half-time assistant principal at Wills Valley Elementary School (WVES); Amy Smith, from sixth grade teacher to fine arts teacher at Fort Payne Middle School (FPMS); Heather Christman, from fifth grade teacher at Little Ridge Intermediate School (LRIS) to sixth grade teacher at FPMS; Jade Gilbert, from second grade teacher to interventionist at WVES; Houston Henderson, from kindergarten teacher to enrichment teacher at WVES.

• hired Tiffany Saint as interventionist at FPMS, Ashlyn Houston as second grade teacher at WVES, Emily Williams as kindergarten teacher at WVES, Robert Anderson as half-time bus driver, and Nancy Williams as system-wide Child Nutrition Program worker. Their contracts are set to non-renew May 27, 2022.

• accepted the resignation of Ethan Barnes as half-time bus driver, effective Dec. 17. 

• approved additions to the substitute teacher list and 2022 textbook committee members as submitted. 

• approved the October financial statements and bank reconciliation report. 

• set Jan. 27, 2022, at 6 p.m. in the conference room of the Central Office as the date, time and place of the next regular school board meeting. 

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