The Calhoun County Board of Education this week spent nearly $170,000 replacing coolers and freezers in two of the system’s elementary schools.
For $168,146, the walk-in coolers and freezers — bought from McCormick Refrigeration in Anniston — will replace units installed more than four decades ago at Walter Wellborn and Weaver elementary schools, Superintendent Joe Dyar said by phone Thursday.
The old units were “on their last legs,” Dyar said, and though the new are expensive, he noted they would “last 30 or 40 years, if you take care of them.”
The board’s members during a meeting Tuesday evening also picked a new assistant principal for Wellborn Elementary.
Aimee Shiflett, a longtime White Plains Elementary School teacher who last worked in Birmingham City Schools and Pell City School System, will fill the spot. She takes a job left by Jordan Weathers, chosen last month by Oxford City Schools’ Board of Education to be principal of Oxford Elementary School.
Dyar called Shiflett a “can’t-miss hire,” and said the system was “blessed to have her continued leadership and guidance.”
Shiflett, speaking by phone, also said she felt blessed to return to work in the system, and at Wellborn especially, where she noted that a majority of students receive free or reduced-price meals — an indicator of poverty.
“If you did not have a desire to work with families who live in poverty, probably you would not be very successful,” she said of the school community. “I feel like I can add to that .... That’s my heart,” Shiflett said.
Before becoming a teacher, she was a social worker for Jefferson County’s Department of Human Resources.
Shiflett, who this year completed an instructional leadership certification from Jacksonville State University, will be paid $66,731 per year.
In business affecting the entire school system, the board’s members on Tuesday approved a five-year capital improvement plan for its properties.
The plan contains many of the projects begun this year — major renovations to Saks, Weaver, and Wellborn high schools, and construction of a new Alexandria Middle School.
Looking immediately ahead, Dyar said, the system needs to fund repairs to the roofs of several gyms — those at Pleasant Valley, White Plains and Ohatchee high schools. He expects that to cost just more than $1 million.
Two longer-term goals, the superintendent said, are to replace White Plains High School and the system’s Career Academy in Jacksonville.
Those projects were included for discussion purposes only, Dyar said, and funding sources have not been identified for either.
In other business, the board:
— Approved bids to supply natural gas and bread to the system’s schools, from Blossman Gas, for 99 cents a gallon, and from Flowers Baking Company, with prices varying depending on the baked good bought. A 24-count pack of whole wheat dinner rolls, for example, was priced at $2.48 each.
— Renewed membership in the School Superintendents of Alabama, at an $11,200 cost. Membership provides professional development and legal guidance, Dyar said. The board’s members also renewed the system’s automotive liability insurance, at a $32,467 cost this year. Dyar noted that was far lower than in previous years — such coverage has cost more than $100,000 — and attributed that drop to work by the system’s financial officer, Tina Parris, and others.
— Heard public comment from Shane Adrian, a Weaver resident who asked the board consider amending a policy that limits to three the number of foreign exchange students the system may accept in a year.
Dyar said the system has accepted three such students this year, and that Adrian will host one of those students. The superintendent said he’s open to talking with board members about increasing the number of such students accepted by the system, which he said are “normally the cream of the crop.”
Writing in a text message Wednesday, board member David Gilmore echoed Dyar’s stance.
“It seems to be a positive experience for all parties involved,” he wrote. “I am not opposed at all to take a look at the policy to allow more students each year.”