BY BRIAN JONES
At their June 3 meeting, the Clay County Board of Supervisors heard a report on East Mississippi Community College’s GRE program and another request from Dr. Johnnie Rasberry for donations to a literacy program. They also held two executive sessions.
The supervisors went into executive session within minutes of opening the meeting to discuss personnel issues. They emerged after twenty minutes and announced no action had been taken. [I believe they were discussing issues surrounding back pay for Wendy Fuller, who was vacated from her office of District 4 election commissioner last month. Ms. Fuller worked for several months after her certification expired, and there are thorny legal issues surrounding whether or not she can be paid. – Brian Jones] After returning to open session, the board heard a report from Workforce Specialist Mitzi Thompson about EMCC’s GED program.
“I am here representing the adult basic education department,” she said. “The GED test is going to go computerized in January 2014, and we have a lot of people that will struggle with that computerized test. Also if you’ve taken the test before and passed several parts, all that will go away at the end of December. The new GED will be much, much more difficult. The level of math will be higher, and you’ll have to type your document for the essay portion. A lot of people are not going to have those keyboarding skills. So as many people as possible need to take the test before the end of the year.
“We have served 336 students from Clay County at the West Point center,” she said. “We have 138 in classes now. We have 38 GED awarded for Clay County residents, and we have provided over 10,000 hours of instruction. At the West Point center for the past several weeks we’ve run out of chairs.”
An intensive GED course will also be offered, she said.
“We are experimenting with GED Express,” she said. “If you take the GED all at one time it’s an all-day thing. If you’re ready to move quickly, we have intensive classes that last from 8 a.m. until noon. For two weeks you’ll do nothing but math, and then you’ll take just the math test. Then you’ll go on to the next portion, and so on. That way you’re only focusing on one thing at a time.”
No action was taken.
Rasberry asked if the board intended to donate to his early literacy program. Last month he described his proposal, and asked the supervisors to consider buying some books for the children to use. His request was tabled.
Monday he asked the board to make a yes or no decision.
“Our children are entering school unprepared,” he said. “When Common Core comes in, our students are going to have to compete with students all over the nation. I know the board of supervisors is mostly roads and bridges. But there are a lot of people who don’t have vehicles, and you’re not helping them.”
District 2 Supervisor Luke Lummus suggested Rasberry contact the Growth Alliance for help seeking grants.
“I talked to [Cynthia Wilson] over at the Growth Alliance,” Lummus said. “I got all this information on grants and funding sources. [Mr. Lummus listed a number of funding sources, which I won’t reproduce here. – Brian Jones] This stuff is for all people in the state who want to write for some early literacy programs of any kind. Anybody can go after them.”
The board took no action.
Later in the meeting, Rasberry again asked the board to make a decision on whether or not to fund him.
“Just vote it up or down,” he said.
“I have my doubts about this,” said County Attorney Bob Marshall. “What are we going to do when the next charitable organization comes along with a good cause? Then we’ve got to justify why we didn’t do it for the next one when we did it for you.”
“What we do for one, we have to do for all,” Lummus agreed.
“If that’s your decision, then make it,” Rasberry said.
“I think if the board doesn’t vote, then the decision is clear,” Marshall said.
Again, no action was taken.