The Talladega City Board of Education voted 4-0 with one abstention to transfer Zora Ellis Junior High School guidance counselor Amy Smith to a vacant counselor’s position at Talladega High School.

Board member Elizabeth Smith, who is Amy Smith’s mother, did not vote on the transfer.

Amy Smith was the only guidance counselor at Ellis, and her transfer, effective Aug. 25, will create a vacancy there. The board plans to advertise for a new counselor.

Both of the previous high school counselors retired this year. The position of high school principal also remained vacant following Friday morning’s called meeting.

During the same called meeting, the board also voted unanimously to employ Phillip Cline and Rodrekius Wright as math teachers at the high school.

The transfer of Smith was recommended by former Superintendent Doug Campbell. The recommendation on the two math teachers came from Campbell’s successor, Donna King.

Although the primary purpose of Friday’s called meeting was to approve the personnel actions, the board also heard reports from curriculum coordinator Dolia Patterson and Child Nutrition Program Director Joni Baker.

Patterson said the new school year, which starts Monday, would bring a great many new challenges and accomplishments. Teachers had already been addressed by a motivational speaker, and were prepared for a renewed emphasis on professional development in the coming year.

Teachers had also participated in summer academies on vertical learning structures which would help align programs between feeder schools and the schools they feed into during transitional years. This would help the students meet the requirements of the state’s College and Career Readiness standards.

Patterson also emphasized the collection of data which would be compiled in a pyramid formation that would help identify achievement gaps and meet state accountability requirements.

She also emphasized a horizontal approach, especially with grading, within each school.

Patterson also touched on a computer academy that would be available at Ellis, and a program based on a new social studies textbook there.

Baker said school menus have been adjusted to meet new state and federal guidelines, particularly new sodium restrictions. These restrictions had a greater impact on the breakfast menus than on the lunch menus, she said. She had been to all the cafeterias and met with all the cafeteria managers, and found everything to be in order for the coming year.

She also said she was working on paperwork showing that about half of the students in the system, 1,051, were directly qualified for free or reduced-price meals because their families had already registered for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Once that percentage reaches 63, the entire community is deemed eligible.

The changes will have greater impact on elementary schools than on the high school, but sugar, sodium and calorie restrictions would impact the food available in snack machines there, she said.

The board’s regular meeting would normally be Monday, Aug. 11, but was rescheduled for Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. at R.L. Young Elementary School.

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