Troup County Schools focused on retainment

Published 5:01 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Troup County School System is focused on retaining teachers and recruiting the best of the best, according to Human Resources Director Chip Medders.

Medders spoke at last week’s Troup County School Board meeting and talked about what the system is doing to keep and recruit educators.

“We have a lot of phenomenal things going on in the school system right now … but if we don’t recruit the absolute best teachers and retain the best teachers it’s all for naught,” Medders said.

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Medders said the school system is focused on retaining its teachers, an area where TCSS is right in line with the state average. However, when compared to nearby counties — such as Heard, Coweta and Harris — TCSS is behind in teacher retention.

Medders also said TCSS also has a high number of teachers with less than four years of experience, at least when compared to nearby counties. He said that’s not necessarily a bad thing, noting that some of the system’s best teachers are young or less experienced.

“Compare us to our surrounding areas, the counties that join us, and you will see … we have quite a few teachers in our school system right now that are fairly young and have four (or less) years of experience,” Medders said.

As far as hiring goes, Medders said early childhood teachers have led hiring trends since 2014-2015, leading special education, English, science and math considerably, according to data from Medders.

“If you look at this current school year, we hired 46 teachers in Kindergarten through fifth grade,” Medders said.

The school system also hired 23 special education teachers, a five-year high. The school system hired four English teachers, six science teachers and 12 math teachers in 2018-2019.

Medders said he’s spent a lot of time getting to know five early childhood graduates at LaGrange College and 14 students at Point University. He’s also spent time working with Columbus State.

“We’ve spent a lot of time working in our backyard,” Medders said.

TCSS plans to attend a number of job fairs in the weeks ahead, including its own job fair in February.

4Three board members were added to a committee to determine future use of the Whitesville Road Elementary School site. Kirk Hancock, Brandon Brooks and Allen Simpson were all appointed to the committee.

4The school board approved a request from THINC College & Career Academy to help fund the cost of a search firm to look for a replacement for CEO Kathy Carlisle. Carlisle is retiring in November. The cost to the Troup County School System will be a maximum of $10,000. Brooks represents TCSS on the THINC Board and will provide input in the search for Carlisle’s replacement.

4The board heard an update on the Strings Attached program, which operates as a partnership between the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra and Youth Orchestra. It began in 2015 and was started with direction from Celeste Myall, the first lady at LaGrange College. The program includes third, fourth and fifth graders. String Sprouts are available for younger children. A total of 74 students from Hollis Hand, Hillcrest, Franklin Forest and West Point elementary schools take part in Strings Attached.

4The board approved an updated medication policy allowing the use of Naxolone or Narcan nasal spray for emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. Nurses or other school employees are authorized to administer the Narcan to a student experiencing or suspected to be experiencing an opioid overdose. 

4The board has also scheduled a special session for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, where it will begin to look at applications for the superintendent position. The special session will include an executive session to discuss the candidates.

“I don’t know the names of the candidates but from what I understand, the consultants are very excited about the pool of candidates you’ll be looking at,” said Superintendent Roy Nichols. Nichols said the board is hoping to find a superintendent by February or March. He said there were 52 applicants and 12 people were asked to respond to three questions by video.

4Due to all of the recent rain, the expected date of completion for the Troup County High School gymnasium has been pushed back to January 2020. The original timeline was October 2019.

“We are definitely in January 2020 at this point,” said Assistant Superintendent John Radcliffe. “We’ve had about 40 days of rain. That’s really pushed us back.”