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The Giles County School System has received a $40,000 Middle School STEM grant from the Tennessee Board of Education.

Each of the county’s middle schools will receive $10,000 to outfit a classroom with LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics kits. According to CTE Director Amy Roberts, the funding will provide enough materials for an entire class to participate at once, as well as professional development for teachers who will be leading those classes.

The announcement was made at the January meeting of the Giles County Board of Education.

“That’s exciting stuff,” School Board Chairman Knox Vanderpool said. “I’m a big LEGO fan.”

Roberts also reported that Richland High School Health Science Teacher Beth Johnson has received a $5,000 TVA grant to put cameras in the school’s classrooms to assist with virtual learning.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Giles County School Board is taking action to support teachers who may be forced to quarantine or who fall ill with the virus. The board approved a policy to ensure that teachers are not required to use sick leave while teaching virtually from home while in quarantine or sick.

Additionally, they approved the continuation of policies created by the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which expired at the end of 2020. The board agreed to offer an additional 80 hours of paid sick leave for teachers and staff who cannot work because they are sick with COVID-19 or are caring for someone who is.

“This expires May 28 unless something changes with the federal, state or local boards,” Director of Schools Dr. Vickie Beard said.

The board passed a motion to send resolutions both individually and as a group to the state capitol in support of the University of Tennessee System’s intent to acquire Martin Methodist College. This action follows similar resolutions sent forth by the county.

“The more support we show, the stronger voice we’ll have on the hill,” said board member Katie Journey.

In addition, the school board:

• Authorized Wold HFR to begin the schematic design phase for improvements to the county’s eight schools. Over the next two months they will develop a scope of work and preliminary budget for the board to review.

• Approved a slate of policy updates that were presented for a second reading.

• Welcomed Lance Evans as the new principal of Minor Hill School.

• Renewed the joint maintenance agreement with Limestone County, which allows the counties to reimburse each other for students who reside in one county but are educated in the other.

• Approved the disposition of assets from the school bus garages, including obsolete parts dating back 15 to 20 years.

The next Giles County School Board work session will be at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, and the next board meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, at the Central Office.

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