Zora Ellis Junior High School

Zora Ellis Junior High School

TALLADEGA -- The Talladega City Board of Education voted 4-0 Tuesday night to declare an emergency at Zora Ellis Junior High School to deal with a major plumbing issue.

Immediately after voting for the emergency declaration, the project was awarded to Mr. Dan’s Plumbing for $35,200.

According to Superintendent Tony Ball, the sewer system at Ellis is old, and parts of it have failed recently. As a result, raw sewage has started to come up through the drain pipes in the kitchen area.

This obviously creates numerous health and safety violations that will have to be addressed before school starts again next month.

Board member Jake Montgomery pointed out that the repairs were still bid competitively, but the emergency declaration allows the board to get around the requirement that the project be advertised for three weeks before the bid is awarded.

All of the board members present voted for the emergency declaration and the awarding of the contract. Board member Shirley Simmons-Sims was not present for the meeting.

During the same meeting Tuesday evening, the board also adjourned to executive session to discuss litigation for about 25 minutes. No action was taken once the board returned to public session.

The board also approved the slate of personnel recommendations presented by Ball by a vote of 3-1, with board Chairwoman Mary McGhee dissenting. McGhee has said she will not vote in favor of any personnel recommendations until she is furnished with the complete application and background check information for every applicant.

In making his recommendation, Ball pointed out there are shortages of specific types of teachers, specifically in math and science, not just in Talladega, but statewide. 

The Legislature has recently extended the amount of time teachers who have not completed their education coursework can hold emergency certifications. This certification now lasts for two years, with an option to extend it for another two years after that, Ball explained.

Time teaching with an emergency certification is not counted toward tenure, he said.

Ball praised the work the system’s principals have done in recruiting teachers for the coming year. The system still needs one more math teacher and one more general studies teacher, “but we’ve got a line on both,” he said.

Also Tuesday, the board:

  • Approved the meeting schedule for the next year;

  • Approved contracts for two principals for the coming year;

  • Approved two contracts for psychometric testing;

  • Approved a contract for a board certified behavior analyst;

  • Approved a contract for services between the system and Pediatric Therapy Associates for physical and occupational therapy;

  • Approved a one-time contract for the summer gifted compensatory session;

  • Deleted certain fixed assets from the supplemental inventory;

  • Approved the financial report by a vote of 3-1, with McGhee dissenting;

  • Hired Pamela Gaddis (replacing Michelle Williamson) as elementary guidance counselor;

  • Hired Brittany Shepherd (replacing Katherine Mullinax) as a science teacher at Zora Ellis;

  • Hired Courtney Wheeler (replacing Dianna Hardy) as gifted teacher for the system;

  • Hired Tarsha Wright (replacing Kim Mitchell) as family and consumer science teacher at Career Tech;

  • Transferred Janice Rigdon from elementary guidance counselor at R.L. Young and Graham elementary schools to the same position at Graham and Salter;

  • Hired Ronnie Merritt (replacing Tanesa Parker) as Central Office receptionist;

  • Heard McGhee complain three transfers were left out of The Daily Home’s coverage of the previous board meeting. Which transfers she was referring to were not immediately clear;

  • Announced two budget hearings would need to be scheduled but did not finalize the dates for those hearings;

  • Recognized the passing of former Superintendent Lee Messer, who died last week, and offered thoughts and prayers to his family; and

  • Announced that this year’s in-service will be Aug. 5 at Harwell Auditorium.