School board to bring back Thomasville Middle School

By Barry H. Hendrix

The Thomasville City Board of Education voted Jan. 28 to reopen the Thomasville Middle School, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.
The school board meeting was held in the Thomasville High School library.
The board voted April 25, 2018, to reorganize the school system into two campuses with fifth and sixth grade students going to the elementary school and seventh and eighth grade students being part of the high school.
“When we voted to do this a couple of years ago, we did it in good faith in anticipation primarily that it would improve instruction and also that we would realize some savings,” said Chris Beverly, school board president. “You can’t necessarily say that either one of them has been the case.”
The new reorganization will have fifth through eighth grade students housed in the middle school building with its own principal.
In a three-campus configuration, state foundation funding will pay for a principal, librarian and counselor at each building and assistant principals at TMS and THS, said Garth Moss, school superintendent. There is a plan for how to deal with the lack of state funding for assistant principal at TES, he said.
Using existing student population numbers in a three-campus situation, TES would have 403 students. The additional 36 pre-K students are not counted in state funding. TMS would have 347 students, and THS would have 360 students.
Moss said of the middle school building, “there is nothing like having that building principal in that school every day that teachers know they have to answer to.” The superintendent expressed concern that the seventh and eighth grade students and teacher had been on “an island” in the former middle school building. “They are over there by themselves,” he said. “There is no sharing of teachers (with THS), which I think was initially the plan.”
The TMS office will have a secretary to answer needs of parents, where they don’t have to go to the THS Main Office, he said.
The superintendent expects to announce who will serve as the TMS principal before the school year is over.
Moving the fifth and sixth grade students back to TMS will allow the TES librarian to better concentrate on the K-3 reading initiative, he said. It will also help with scheduling issues for TES teachers. “They have a hard time getting any kind of common planning time…to be together, so they can plan lessons.”
The school system will continue to consolidate positions as employees retire to help reduce spending of local funds, Moss said. Six employee positions, paid for by local funding, were cut last year. A technology help desk position will be reduced by having those duties performed by a current employee.
Fifth through eighth students will be served free breakfast in the TMS cafeteria. However, they will be served lunch in the THS cafeteria. The high school cafeteria has seen a loss in the number of students who eat lunch so the influx of middle school students will help bolster that Child Nutrition Program (CNP). “This (the THS) lunchroom struggles in profitability because of the lack of participation of our older kids,” he said. “…That will help the lunch numbers.”
The board approved Dec. 11, 2019, for Trane Building Advantage of Birmingham to perform an “Investment Grade (Energy) Audit” on the school system facilities. That new energy savings project will help reduce utilities. Trane will perform their second phase of the audit of the school facilities on Feb. 4-6, the superintendent said.
Moss expects to save $230,000 overall in local funding, with the return to a middle school, beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. School systems are behind a year in receiving state funds due to student population results.
In addition, the superintendent reported that the elementary school has applied for a third First Class Pre-K state grant to allow for a total of approximately 56 pre-kindergarten students. “We have had a waiting list for the last two years,” Moss said. Applications are now being accepted for pre-K, and students will be chosen through a lottery.
In other action from the Jan. 28 meeting, Avery Ford, chief school financial officer, reported that accounts payable for November 2019 totaled $273,508.66, and payroll totaled $766,181.02.
Accounts payable for December 2019 totaled $335,864.79, and payroll totaled $775,144.93.
• Modular Concepts, LLC, of Chespeake City, Maryland, was awarded the bid ($49,980.00) for replacing the gym floor at TES. The company was the sole bidder for the project. The work should be performed during spring break (March 23-27), Moss said.
• An overnight field trip was approved for the THS Drama program to attend the Thespian Festival Feb. 14-16 in Vestavia Hills.
• An overnight field trip was approved for the THS wrestling program to attend the state Section Tournament Feb. 7 and 8 in Montgomery and the state tournament Feb. 13-15 in Huntsville.
• State accountability reports from the Thomasville school system are available on the school website,
• The school system’s buses recently received their annual inspection, Moss said, and the report was completed Jan. 3 with “no findings or no issues. I appreciate the work that Mr. (Terry) Stifflemire and Mr. (Tommy) Wilson put in.”
• The following personnel actions were approved:
Wayne Faust, interpreter/RN at TES, effective Jan. 4;
Melissa Powell, Child Nutrition Program (CNP) assistant at TES, effective Jan. 13;
Ira Scott Manns, Help Desk Manager, effective Jan. 31;
Laura Shelander, math teacher at THS, effective Jan. 31;
(employment in positions)
Santana McCaskey, CNP assistant at THS, effective Feb. 3;
(voluntary transfers)
Jackloyn Grayson, transfer from part-time CNP assistant at TES, 9 months, to full-time, 9 months, effective, Feb. 1;
Denise Garner, transfer from CNP assistant at THS, 9 months, to CNP assistant at TES, 9 months, effective, Jan. 6;
Katrena Thomas, transfer from CNP assistant at TES, 9 months, to CNP assistant at THS, 9 months, effective Jan. 6;
Katherine Dumas, transfer from CNP assistant at THS, 9.50 months, to CNP Manager at TES, effective Dec. 19;
(reassignment in position)
Terry Norton, reassignment from teacher (at-risk) at THS, 9 months, and district Attendance Coordinator, to teacher (at-risk), Attendance Coordinator and Help Desk Manager, 9 months, effective Feb. 1;
(employment in temporary position)
Angelia Moss, temporary Gifted Teacher, system-wide, effective Jan. 13 to May 22.
• A student hearing was held, in executive session, at the beginning of the school board meeting.
• The next meeting of the school board will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 25 in the THS library. The public is invited.

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