HCS Board of Education Meeting – May 13, 2024

Posted by Sybil Barkley on 5/16/2024 12:00:00 PM

HCS Board of Education Meeting – May 13, 2024

Board Member Items

Board Chair Sophe Pope provided an update on the Superintendent search. The Board has secured the Georgia School Board Association as the search firm to facilitate the search for our next Superintendent, and the search launched on April 1st. The application window closed on May 12th, and the community survey closed on May 13th.  The Board expects an update on the number of applications from the Georgia School Board Association soon. There is a website dedicated to sharing updates with the community, and it can be accessed here: Superintendent Search

Superintendent’s Welcome

Dr. Knowlton acknowledged that we are close to the end of the school year, which is a season of milestones such as graduation ceremonies for seniors. Other students will soon transition from elementary school to middle school, and middle school to high school. Dr. Knowlton also recognized Teacher Appreciation Week, and a compilation video of students and staff thanking a teacher was shared.



  1. Core Business of Student Learning 
    1. Finishing the 2023-2024 School Year Strong, Mary Ann Suddeth, Chief School Leadership Officer

Ms. Suddeth presented information on end of year activities as the school year comes to a close. Examinations are still under way, class scheduling for FY25 is in progress, graduations will soon be underway. Summer Learning Opportunities are available for students, and professional learning opportunities will be ongoing for staff throughout the summer. Registration for the Before and After School Enrichment program is currently open but will close on May 17th, re-opening on July 8th. Additionally, kindergarten registration has been open since March 26th and will continue to be available to Henry County families. Families may access the Be Ready Day One website where information and resources are available for a successful start of the 2024-2025 school year. Open house is scheduled for Tuesday, July 30th, with the first day of school scheduled for Thursday, August 1st. 

  1. Ensuring Operational Effectiveness 
    1. April Construction and E-SPLOST Report, Mr. Josh Malcom, Chief Operations Officer 
  1. Birch Creek Elementary

Construction is progressing as scheduled for a 2024-2025 opening, with final grading activities and concrete placement coming to an end. Floor coverings are near completion, and installation of the building lighting control system continues.

  1. School Electronic Message Signs

Installation of all electronic signs is completed at 15 elementary schools, with installation of sign panels in progress. Training for school personnel will occur as the project nears completion.

  1. New Administration Office Facility

Installation of underground fire and water main lines has begun, and steel erection is complete. Installation of interior metal stud framing is complete on the 1st floor and nearing completion on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

  1. New Transportation Facility & Renovations to Existing Transportation.

Grading activities are complete, the rock base for the parking lot is being installed, and the slab for the main facility is complete. Erection of framing for the main facility has begun.

  1. HVAC Cooling Tower Replacement

This is on schedule for Austin Road Elementary and East Lake Elementary, with installation of the new towers to be completed this summer.

  1. Additional Updates
  • The addition to Ola Middle School will bid next week, with the project expected to begin this summer.
  • The STEM High School will bid in July, with the deconstruction of the current building beginning this fall.
  • The design work for the Dutchtown Middle School addition has begun. 


    1. April 2024 Financial Reports, Mr. Jeff Allie, Acting Chief Financial Officer 
  1. April 2024 Financial Report
  • General Fund Assets and Total Cash on Hand - The total value of general fund’s assets at the close of April totaled $188.5 million, while Cash on Hand across all funds during reporting period totaled $441 million.
  • E-SPLOST V There were no expenditures during the month of April. Mr. Allie also indicated that this program is anticipated to close out by the end of this fiscal year.
  • E-SPLOST VI - There were expenditures of $7.7 million in the month of April, bringing expenditures to date for the program to 33%. 
  • Capital Accumulation - There were expenditures of $66,393 with investments in Safety and Security infrastructure and athletic equipment growth and replacement being the key drivers in the month of April.
  • ESSER Funds- There were no expenditures incurred in April.


    1. FY25 Budget, Mr. Jeff Allie, Acting Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Allie presented the final FY25 Budget recommendations outlining the forecast of changes in revenues and expenditures with consideration for legislative and local priorities. The State’s FY25 Budget has been adopted, and the local tax digest data window has closed. Budgetary impacts have been analyzed to contribute to the final FY25 Budget recommendations. 

Mr. Allie previewed the FY25 Budget, which includes competitive compensation for employees. Certified staff will receive the $2,500 raise supported in the state’s adopted budget, steps in the salary scale will be honored, classified and administrative pay scales will increase by 2%, and other job families such as bus drivers and paraprofessionals will see additional increases. 

Additional areas of focus for the FY25 Budget include investments in Strategic Plan initiatives that prioritize high-quality instruction and support services, mental health and wellness, and growth and replacement efforts. 

The first of two Budget Hearings occurred on April 15th with the tentative adoption of the budget that evening, and the second hearing occurred on May 13th prior to the Board’s adoption of the FY25 budget later that evening. 

To promote awareness and ensure community transparency in the FY25 budget development process, a website has been established to archive all materials and keep you updated. Visit FY25 Budget Development Updates to follow each month. 

    1. HCBOE Policy GAE: Complaints and Grievances, Mrs. Summer Cox, Chief of Staff

Ms. Cox presented information on proposed revisions to Board Policy GAE: Complaints and Grievances. The proposed revisions include clarifications to definitions, exclusions, timelines, and levels of review. These proposed revisions are available for public comment and the Board will take action on the proposed revisions at the June board meeting. 


  1. FY25 Budget Adoption

The Board of Education adopted the FY25 budget with a vote of 5 to 0.


  1. Wide Area Network District Switches

The Board of Education approved the purchase of wide area network switches for district office locations with a vote of 5 to 0.


  1. Henry Teaching and Learning Standards

The Board of Education approved additions to the Henry Teaching and Learning Standards for ELA with a vote of 5 to 0.


  1. Instructional and Technical Infrastructure: CTAE Information Technology Pathway Equipment

The Board of Education approved the purchase of CTAE Information Technology Pathway programming equipment with a vote of 5 to 0.


  1. James “Jimmy” Carter Proclamation

The Board of Education adopted the James “Jimmy” Carter Proclamation with a vote of 5 to 0.

Carter Proclamation



Inspiration for the May Board Meeting was provided by Kayleigh King who is a second-grade student at Mt. Carmel Elementary School.  She recited the poem, “When School is Closing Soon”. Mt. Carmel’s principal is Ms. Alison VanTone-Foles.

Kayleigh King MCE


View full photo album here.


Georgia Scholar Nominee

Through the Georgia Scholar Program, the Georgia Department of Education identifies and honors high school seniors who have achieved excellence in school and community life. Henry County Schools had one honoree, from Union Grove High School:

·       Harshika Garlapati

-       Ryan Meeks, Principal


Henry Voices

In Henry County Schools we value the voices of our students, today’s young people and tomorrow’s leaders. Henry Voices is an opportunity for all students to make their voices heard. Henry Voices includes a Speaking Contest where students have the opportunity to develop a short speech. 

Elementary students spoke to the prompt “I am growing more in Henry by…”.  The winner was: 

·       Pate’s Creek Elementary - Sparrow Tanks

-       Jennifer McCrary, Principal


Middle school students spoke to the prompt “I am learning more in Henry by…”. The winner was:

·       Luella Middle School - Kaylani Do

-       Mary Carol Stanley, Principal


High school students spoke to the prompt “I am celebrating more in Henry by…” The winner was:

·       Locust Grove High School - Aiden Harris

-       Anthony Townsend, Principal


LGHS Harris

English Language Certificate of Recognition

Each year, the state ESOL Language Program, in collaboration with the statewide English Language (EL) Advisory Committee, recognizes one exemplary high school senior EL student and one exemplary ESOL teacher as nominated from each local education agency (LEA). The Georgia Department of Education Exemplary EL Student and ESOL Teacher are recognized by the state by receiving a Certificate of Recognition signed by Superintendent Woods.

·       Union Grove High School - Josna James, Exemplary English Language Student

-       Ryan Meeks, Principal

·       Pates Creek Elementary and Cotton Indian Elementary Cheri Poole, Exemplary ESOL Teacher

-       Jennifer McCrary, Principal, Pates Creek Elementary

-       Mahoganey Jackson, Principal, Cotton Indian Elementary


Cheri Poole PCE

Community Impact Award

Two HCS students were recently awarded the 2024 Community Impact Award from Andrea Carter, founder of the I AM Black History Awards, for their efforts to provide food, toys, and books to families in need. The awards honored five youths aged 5 to 17 who have exhibited outstanding community involvement, excellence in the arts, and commendable academic achievements.

·       Dutchtown Middle School - Treandos Thornton

-       Crystal Williams, Principal

·       Dutchtown Elementary School - Noah Thornton

-       Douglas Fletcher, Principal

Thorton Dutchtown 


Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) Awards

Statewide Elementary Honor Chorus: The GMEA Statewide Honor Chorus is open to 4th and 5th grade students. The students are nominated by their music teachers. Over 500 singers from across the state met for two days and presented wonderful performances at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center. Following are honor chorus award recipients:

Cotton Indian Elementary:

·       Kingston Cross

·       Alexia Gonzalez

·       La’Riah Williams

·       Kie’Le Woods

-       Mahoganey Jackson, Principal


Flippen Elementary:

·       Robyn Gardiner

·       Elena Parrish

·       Robert Reynolds

·       Essence Roman

·       Eliezer Romeus

-       Victoria Grubbs, Principal

New Hope Elementary:

·       Leighton Foster

·       Alyssa Edwards

·       Caliyah Wilson

·       Kennedy Moon

-       Micki Foster, Principal

Foster NHE

Dutchtown Elementary:

·       Re’Nique Orange

-       Douglas Fletcher, Principal

Walnut Creek Elementary:

·       Lilly-Ann Truax

-       Tamika Knighton, Principal

All State Band, Chorus and Orchestra: The top middle and high school musicians from across the state are selected through a rigorous two-part audition process for these performing groups. Over 1,200 of the finest young brass, percussion, string and woodwind instrumentalist in the state of Georgia gathered in Athens as part of GMEA's All State weekend.

Band Awards:

Dutchtown Middle School

·       Jayden Scott

-       Crystal Williams, Principal

Scott DMS

Eagle’s Landing Middle School

  • Aubrey Butler,
  • Whitney Seun-Osineve
  • Malik Douglas, Principal

Butler ELMS

Locust Grove High School

  • Nathan Johnston,
  • Mahkel Perrier
  • Anthony Townsend, Principal

Luella High School

  • Camden Keesey
  • Brandi Hardnett, Principal

Ola High School

  • Dylan Yakel
  • Nick Ellis, Principal

Ola Middle School

  • Jacob Mullis
  • Christine Anderson, Principal

Union Grove Middle School

  • Jenna McKneely
  • Dwayne Richards, Principal

Chorus Awards:

Ola High School

·       Kinsley Asbell

·       Kate Smith

·       Avery Pinson

-       Nick Ellis, Principal

OHS Chorus

Luella High School

·       Camden Keesey

-       Brandi Hardnett, Principal

Orchestra Awards:

Ola High School

·       Kate Smith

·       George Barnett

-       Nick Ellis, Principal

 OHS Orchestra


Georgia Art Education Association (GAEA) Award

The annual GAEA All-State Art Symposium is dedicated to promoting and recognizing the creative talents of high school students from Georgia's school districts. The symposium's workshops, juried exhibition and other events provide high school students with cultural opportunities, develop advanced studio skills, and cultivate aesthetic appreciation while recognizing excellence in high school art education.


Eagle’s Landing High School

·       Cecelia McCarthy

-       Kesha Jones, Principal


GMEA Teacher

Heidi Long, music teacher at Cotton Indian Elementary school, has been awarded the prestigious title of Georgia Music Educator of the Year for District 6. Mrs. Long has consistently demonstrated her commitment to music education and the growth of her students and all students in Henry County. She is the co-founder of the HCS Elementary Honor chorus which just wrapped up their 14th season: 

·       Heidi Long

-       Mahoganey Jackson, Principal



National History Day Competition

On Saturday, March 21st, Henry County Schools students competed in the State of Georgia NHD Competition. Only 400 projects out of 12,000 state-wide compete during the competition. We are thrilled to recognize the seven projects that were honored at the state level. Of the projects that were recognized four were selected to compete at the National competition in June at the University of Maryland.

Junior Division

Woodland Middle School - Michelle Wilkerson, Principal

Best Use of National Archives or Presidential Libraries Materials –and-- Individual Outstanding Entry in Military History for “The Spanish American War”:

·       Robert Sheppard 

Sheppard WMS

3rd Place and National Alternate in the Junior Group Performance category for their project “Guilty Without Evidence, The Salem Witch Trials A Cautionary Tale in Freedom and Justice”:

·       Ivie Bates-Uhunoman-Aigbe

·       Nala Parrish

·       Chloe White

·       Joydan Jackson


2nd Place and National Qualifier in the Junior Individual Performance category for “I Want You to Know What They Did to My Boy/The Death of Innocence”:

·       Ariana Smith

WMS Smith

Ola Middle School – Christine Anderson, Principal

1st Place and National Qualifier in the Junior Group Documentary category for their project “Ida B Wells: A Turning Point in the Perspective of Lynching”:

·       Michael Peterson

·       Kennedy Reardanz

OMS Peterson

2nd Place and National Qualifier in the Junior Group Performance category for their project “The Washerwomen Strike of 1881”:

·       Morgan Walker

·       Kayla DeBlois

·       Nevaeh Dowell

·       Chana Oden

Union Grove Middle School - Dwayne Richards, Principal

4th Place and Honorable Mention in the Junior Paper category for “Gridiron Hidden Figure: The Story of The Man Who Broke the NFL Color Barrier”

·       Ashton Miles

Ola High School - Nick Ellis, Principal

1st Place and National Qualifier in the Senior Individual Exhibit category for “Maynard for Mayor”.

·       Madelyn Reardanz

OMS Reardanz

National History Day Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award

Congratulations to Yvette Milligan from Woodland Middle School who was selected to represent Georgia as the junior division National History Day Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award nominee. Nominated teachers must demonstrate a commitment to engaging students in historical learning through the innovative use and analysis of primary sources, fostering critical thinking through the implementation of active learning strategies and participating in the National History Day Contest.


·       Yvette Milligan, Woodland Middle School

-       Michelle Wilkerson, Principal

Milligan WMS

Governor’s Honors Program

Over 4,200 students were nominated for the State of Georgia GHP with 1,500 selected to participate in the audition/interview process. Henry County Schools is proud to celebrate the 13 finalists and one alternate selected to attend. The Georgia Governor’s Honors Program is a residential summer program for skilled, knowledgeable, and talented high school sophomores and juniors. GHP offers instruction that is significantly different from the typical high school classroom and is designed to provide students with academic, cultural, and social enrichment necessary to become the next generation of global critical thinkers, innovators, and leaders. Henry County Schools finalists are: 

Academy of Advanced Studies

·       Isabella Bagwell for Agricultural Research, Biotechnology and Science

·       Sommer West for Dance

-       Douglas Blackwell, Principal

Dutchtown High

·       Jalila Abdulazeez Usman for World Language (Spanish)

·       Ikechi Okwuadigbo for Communicative Arts

-       Nicole Shaw, Principal

Eagle’s Landing High

·       Ananya Augustine for Social Studies

-       Kesha Jones, Principal

Impact Academy High

·       Helen Austin for Mathematics

-       Delphine Patterson, Principal

Locust Grove High

·       Karter Trujillo for Theater Performance

-       Anthony Townsend, Principal

McDonough High

·       Tiffanie Moore for Agricultural Research, Biotechnology and Science

·       Jordan Mallory, ALTERNATE, for Music (Vocal)

-       Monica Blasingame, Principal

Ola High

·       Anthony Coral, Mathematics

·       Keagan Kimball, Visual Arts

·       Karina Pandya, Engineering Design

-       Nick Ellis, Principal


Union Grove High

·       Alex Taylor for Communicative Arts

·       Alyssa Vo for Science (Chemistry)

-       Ryan Meeks, Principal


Georgia Southwestern State University Junior Mathematics Tournament

The Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) Junior Mathematics Tournament is a competition where 3rd - 8th grade students compete with other students throughout the state. Two schools from Henry County competed in the April tournament, Smith Barnes Elementary and Luella Middle School.

Smith Barnes Elementary:

·       Amir Joachim ~ 2nd place

·       Braylen Lowe ~ 3rd place

·       Zoe Groebner ~ 4th place

·       Bernardo Rodriguez-Torres ~ 5th Place

-       Carolyn Flemister-Oliver, Principal

-       Talisa Johnson, Coach


Luella Middle School:

·       Jayvian Sistrunk ~ 1st place

-       Mary Carol Stanley, Principal


Work Based Learning Program

Since September 2023 through the Work Based Learning program, Naomi Betsill of Hampton High School has demonstrated exceptional dedication to Henry County Parks & Recreation and the community as whole. She secured $100,000 in grant funds, published articles in national publications, organized various programs, managed the social media platforms reaching nearly 900,000 people annually, and contributed to community projects like the Tim Coley Wall of Kindness mural. Naomi's eagerness to learn and serve has made her an invaluable member of the Parks and Recreation team, embodying the essence of student of the year.

·       Naomi Betsill

-       Quinton Ward, Principal

Batsill WBL 

Dr. Vaneisa Benjamin Retirement

The Board would like to recognize Dr. Vaneisa Benjamin, Principal of Fairview Elementary School. Dr. Benjamin has served Henry County Schools for 31 Years. Dr. Benjamin, this “game ball” is awarded for your years of leadership, and unconditional commitment to the students, parents, teachers and staff of Henry County Schools. Congratulations on your Retirement.

Dr Benjamin 




New Position

Previous Position


*Christopher McLeod


Director of Transportation

Coordinator of Student Conduct, Prevention, Intervention

and Family Support

*Jonathan Bates

Assistant Principal

McDonough Middle School

Dean of Students

Creekside High School

Fulton County Schools

*Monique Greer

Assistant Principal

Bethlehem Elementary School

Facilitator of Instructional Effectiveness

Bethlehem Elementary

*Alicia Parker

Assistant Principal

McDonough Middle School

Instructional Lead Teacher

McDonough Middle School

*Phallon Trice

Assistant Principal

Locust Grove Elementary

Mental Health and Wellness Facilitator

Dutchtown Elementary

*Jessica Walker

Assistant Principal

Bethlehem Elementary School

Instructional Effectiveness Facilitator

Luella High School

Lakenji Hastings

Assistant Superintendent Early Learning and Innovative Practice

Learning & Performance

Director of Professional

Development & Resources

Learning & Performance Division

Winfred Watts


Fairview Elementary

Assistant Principal

Smith-Barnes Elementary

Dr. Kesha Jones

Senior Director

Leadership Services


Eagle’s Landing High School

Caitlyn Boyd

Assistant Principal

Luella Middle School


Luella Middle School

Jason Riley

Assistant Principal

Locust Grove High School


Clayton County Public Schools

Alisha Pierce

Assistant Principal

Locust Grove High School


Griffin Spalding School System

Michelle Watson

Assistant Principal

McDonough High School


McDonough High School

Dawana Conethan

Assistant Principal

Stockbridge High School


Fulton County Schools

Dominique Malmberg

Assistant Principal

Rock Spring Elementary

Dean of Instruction

Breakthrough Public Schools

Dr. Nicholas Samuels

Assistant Principal

Hampton Middle School

Mental Health & Wellness Facilitator

Dutchtown High School

    *Asterisk denotes approval at the April 29, 2024 Special Called Board Meeting


District Board Member


District 1, Dr. Pam Nutt

Dr. Nutt congratulated the Ola High School VEX team for placing 8th in the World Championship.


Dr. Nutt congratulated the Ola High School Baseball Team for their Round 2 state playoff appearance and Locust Grove High School Baseball team for their Elite 8 appearance in the state playoffs.


Dr. Nutt recognized Teacher Appreciation week and enjoyed the celebrations at Tussahaw Elementary School and Locust Grove High School.


To celebrate School Lunch HERO day, Dr. Nutt visited multiple cafeterias to show appreciation for Henry County Schools cafeteria staff.


Dr. Nutt recognized the Capstone Seniors from Locust Grove High School on their TED talk.

District 2, Annette Edwards (Vice Chair)

Mrs. Edwards congratulated McKinsey Rivere from Pates Creek Elementary for placing 3rd at the State Science Fair.


Mrs. Edwards congratulated the Smith-Barnes math team for placing in the top five at the Georgia Southwestern Junior Mathematics Tournament.


Mrs. Edwards attended the Stockbridge High School PTO Teacher Appreciation cookout and their International Day event.


Mrs. Edwards congratulated the 2023-2024 graduating seniors!

District 3, Holly Cobb

Mrs. Cobb recognized Teacher Appreciation Week.


Mrs. Cobb congratulated the Ola High School VEX Robotics Team for placing 8th at the World Championship in Dallas, TX.


Mrs. Cobb congratulated the Ola High School Wrestling team for being invited to visit the capital and meet the Governor for winning the State Championship.  Also, Ola High School’s Wrestling Coach, Joey Dinino, received the Georgia Wrestling Coach of the Year award.


Mrs. Cobb recognized Mary Rozier at Eagle’s Landing High School for receiving the distinguished Vincent J. Dooley Scholarship award.

District 4, Sophe Pope (Chair)

Mrs. Pope congratulated the Union Grove High School Baseball team for their Round 2 state playoff appearance.


Mrs. Pope congratulated the Union Grove High School Girls Golf Team for receiving the area runner up and advancing to the State Tournament.


Mrs. Pope attend the first musical at East Lake Elementary and had an amazing experience.


Mrs. Pope recognized Teacher Appreciation Week.

District 5, Mackenzie McDaniel

Mr. McDaniel recognized the following:

  • National Physical Fitness & Sports Month
  • National Military Recognition Month
  • National School Principals Day
  • Graduation Coach Day
  • School Lunch HERO Day
  • National Music Week
  • National Teacher Appreciation Week
  • School Nurse/ & Clinic Aide Appreciation Week
  • National School Nurse Day
  • National Receptionist Day
  • National Speech Pathologist Day

Mr. McDaniel congratulated the Dutchtown High School State Champion Dance team on their meeting with the governor and visit to the Capitol.

Mr. McDaniel congratulated the Eagles Landing High School Boys Soccer team on their Elite 8 state playoff performance.


Mr. McDaniel recognized Keenan Gray from McDonough High School for receiving the Regional Georgia Athletic Scholarship sponsored by Aylo Health.


Mr. McDaniel recognized Carrington Jones from Eagle’s Landing High School for receiving the Georgia Positive Athlete award presented by WellStar scholarship.


Mr. McDaniel recognized James McGee from Ola High School for receiving Region 2 AAAAA Player of the Year.


Mr. McDaniel recognized Donovan Manuel who is a Stockbridge High School alum for signing with the Minnesota Vikings following the 2024 NFL Draft.