By Marla Jones
FORT PAYNE, Ala.-- The Fort Payne City Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, September 23. Several in attendance came to protest the present mask mandate in the Fort Payne City School System.
Melanie Miller, a spokesperson for Patriots Empowering Patriots (PEW) presented a petition to board members to make masks optional for anyone entering the Fort Payne school property.
Miller addressed the side effects of anyone under the age of eighteen wearing a mask from the National Institutes of Health and from other studies. Miller cited the Solari Report which suggests that wearing masks may adversely affect respiratory function by trapping the carbon dioxide that is emitted when humans exhale.
Fort Payne Superintendent, Brian Jett, thanked the organization for attending the meeting. He presented the group with information in support of the mask mandate from sources such as John Hopkins Children’s Hospital, Academy of Pediatrics, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, Dr. Karen Landers of the Alabama Department of Public Health, along with an open letter to the Alabama School Boards from 102 health providers.
Jett presented a graph that showed COVID-related absences at all four campuses since August 18, which showed the decrease of absences from 249 to 62 on September 21.
“We are starting to see a decrease in our total number of absences due to COVID. We hope to see that trend keep going, to stay with it,” stated Jett. “Our mask requirement ends October 1 unless we decide to forward it a little bit. We’ll use the data to look at it and what’s going on in the community.”
In other business, the Board approved:
Leave of Absences
• Kimberly Butler, Librarian at Little Ridge Intermediate School for seven (7) unpaid days of absence, for the following days: August 25-27, September 9-10, September 12, September 14.
• Meghan Carr, Math Interventionist at Wills Valley Elementary School effective October 29, 2021, through May 27, 2022
• Dylan Young, PE Teachers at Fort Payne Middle School effective September 14, 2021, and non-renew his contract on May 27, 2022. He was also named the 8th Grade Boys Basketball Coach at Fort Payne Middle School, effective for the 2021-2022 school year
• Kyle Coots, 9th Grade Boys Basketball Coach, at Fort Payne High School, effective for the 2021-2022 school year
• Tharis Chavez, System-Wide EL Aide, within the Fort Payne City School System, effective October 1, 2021, and non-renew her contract on May 27, 2022.
• Darrell Prater, as a half-time bus driver, effective September 21, 2021, and non-renew his contract on May 26, 2022.
• Cody Willingham, as a half-time bus driver, effective September 21, 2021, and non-renew his contract on May 26, 2022.
• Tashala Hill, as a system-wide part-time Special Education Aide, effective September 24, 2021, pending an ABI/FBI background check
Additions to the following substitute personnel list, effective for the 2021-2022 school year
Out of State Travel:
• Patrick Barnes, Athletic Director/Principal at FPHS
- FPHS- FFA Officers and Advisor, October 26-29, 2021
National FFA Convention, Indianapolis, IN
- FPHS- Varsity and JV Boys Soccer Teams, April 14, 2022
Baylor High School, Chattanooga, TN
• Jennifer List, Principal at LRIS
- LIRS- 3rd-5th Grade Cross Country Team, October 22, 2021
Trion Elementary School, Trion GA
• Shane Bryd, Principal FPMS
- FPMS- Cross Country Team, October 22, 2021
Trion Elementary School, Trion GA
Other Business the Board Approved:
• Eight additional days to be added to Kristie Conaway, ARI Specialist contract for work completed during the summer of 2021
• Job Description (certified), creation, advertising, and filing of a part-time Central Office Administrative Assistant
• The following teacher is to be placed on a one-year ALSDE approved TEAMS teacher contract in the area of Math-Taylor Thrash
• Creation of Junior High Volleyball Coaching position at FPHS
• A contract with Grubbs and Walker Consulting as the Fort Payne City Schools Consulting Manager for the upcoming construction projects
• Low bid to Osborn Foodservice in the amount of $18,224.81 for supplemental grocery items
• A request for a Virtual Day option for 9th and 12th-grade students on October 19, 2021, due to testing
The next meeting of the Fort Payne City Board of Education will be held on October 28, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. in the conference room of the Fort Payne Schools Central Office.