Thursday, January 23, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  The month of January is off to a fast and furious start for Oconee County Schools and our students.  The weather made for an interesting beginning to second semester and continues to be unpredictably Georgian.  Yet, the success of our schools and our students cannot be deterred by ridiculously cold weather or continuous rain.  Success breeds more success and that is what we see in Oconee County Schools.

Just nine days into second semester and the good news is plentiful.  The information below highlights just a few of the items that have been accomplished and/or are in progress since July 1, 2013—just six short months ago.    

·        OCS has retired our debt from the 2005 General Obligation Bond with a final payment being made to PNC Bank for $1.9 million dollars at the end of December.  This positions the BOE well to consider removal of the 1 mil for debt services and thus bring additional relief to our taxpayers. 

·        Over $300,000 has been saved by reviewing personnel utilization and service providers, bringing our 18-month total to nearly $1 million saved. 

·        Security upgrades have been completed at all elementary and middle schools, standardizing the entrances to include access points that require visitors to declare their business prior to being granted entry into our facilities.

·        School bus camera systems have been upgraded to 100% digital content for improved safety and clarity. 

·        Approximately 10% of our teachers are currently enrolled in gifted endorsement classes that will enhance the instructional practices in our buildings and continue to advance our students.

·        Advanced Placement opportunities have been expanded at our high schools, advance content has been implemented in reading and math at 5th grade, and all 8th grade students are currently taking physical science for high school credit. 

·        Our system website has been updated with a “Google Translate” button that allows content to be translated into numerous languages for our families and students.  Currently, we have 26 different languages spoken in Oconee County Schools. 

·        A contract with Parrish Construction was approved last week by the BOE for Oconee County High School’s Phase II Stadium Renovation.  Work should begin this week and be concluded by this summer.

·       AppliTrack, an online application system, has been implemented, allowing the posting and application processing of all jobs to be paperless.  Over 100 new employees have been hired since July 1.

·        Strategic planning began in earnest with over 500 community members providing feedback through surveys and OCS’ community meeting.  The community input led to planning teams, and now the process is at the action team level.  Long-term goals will be determined and a plan will be presented to the BOE for approval by early spring. 

As you can see, our leaders have been busy.  From the expansion of curricular options at all levels, to safety enhancements, to the retirement of debt, OCS is taking large steps on the path to greatness.  Let me know what you think of our journey at jbranch@oconeeschools.org.  

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