Cullman County Board of Education prepares to reopen classrooms Aug. 20

The Cullman County Board of Education at its Thursday afternoon, June 18, 2020 meeting (Live stream video capture courtesy of CCBOE)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Board of Education (CCBOE) on Thursday afternoon discussed plans to reopen schools and return to classrooms this fall. Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette presented board members a three-tiered preliminary plan for the restart of traditional classroom instruction beginning Aug. 20. 

According to the proposed plan, classroom instruction will be the preferred method. If cases of COVID-19 increase, the system will shift into the second tier of blended instruction, a mix of face-to-face and online curriculum.

Then, said Barnette, “If they continue to increase and the need arises, we will be prepared to do a virtual- move into a virtual setting. At the same time, because we’ve been requested by the State Department (of Education) to offer some- if kids decide to do a full-time virtual, they can choose that option and stay at home and have their lessons sent to them virtually if they’d like to do that. But me and my staff and all of our schools, we’re letting the public know that we want students in school Aug. 20, face-to-face. I am confident that kids learn better sitting in a classroom with a teacher than they do reading or watching a video screen.”

Barnette told board members the State will give local school boards the authority to set many of their own safety standards for reopening, and to apply standards set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at their discretion, based on local conditions and needs.

Said Barnette, “All of those recommendations that came down from CDC are not requirements. We will decide as a local school board which of those restrictions or those recommendations that we decide to use for our school system. (State Superintendent of Education) Dr. (Eric) Mackey assured me that those are recommendations, but not all of them are feasible for every school system. So some we will be doing, but many of those we will not.

“COVID-19 is not as bad, or it hasn’t hit us as bad here in Cullman County as it has many places, so it would be foolish of us to abide by all these restrictions that Birmingham City or wherever it may be, that they’re abiding by.”

The State Department of Education is scheduled to release more directives on reopening Monday, June 22. CCBOE is currently polling parents via school websites for their intentions for the fall: whether they want their children to attend face-to-face or receive virtual instruction. Barnette cautioned that the poll is a preliminary survey, and would not bind families to either course of instruction. 

New principals

The board approved the transfer of Micah Rice from assistant principal at Cold Springs Elementary School to contract principal of Cold Springs Elementary School to replace Vicky Johnson, and approved the transfer of Blake Thompson from assistant principal at West Point Middle to contract principal of West Point Middle School to replace Vicky Butler.

Summer workers

The board approved the following summer workers:

  • Matthew McCulloch, Central Office Maintenance (Student Group Leader)
  • Ethan S. Barnette, Central Office Maintenance (Student Group Leader) 
  • Noah Landon Barnette, Central Office Maintenance 
  • Jackson Taft Dillashaw, Central Office Maintenance 
  • Braxton Lane Ekes, Central Office Maintenance 
  • Levi H. Farley, Central Office Maintenance 
  • William J. Flynt, Central Office Maintenance 
  • Peyton L. Hall, Central Office Maintenance
  • Deakon B. Hembree, Central Office Maintenance
  • Whitt A. Laney, Central Office Maintenance 
  • Zachary (Eli) Phares, Central Office Maintenance 
  • Austin W. Riddle, Central Office Maintenance 
  • Brody W. Rusk, Central Office Maintenance 
  • Branson L. Smith, Central Office Maintenance 
  • Robert (Tripp) Richard Taylor, Central Office Maintenance 
  • Dylan L. White, Central Office Maintenance


Contract/Salary Changes 

  • Ulonda Renee Collins, upgrade to Master’s degree
  • Katherine Mae Meigs, upgrade to Education Specialist
  • Robert C. Strane, upgrade to Master’s degree
  • Carrie Alana Bookout, upgrade to Master’s degree


Contract Extension for Summer 2020 

  • Bridgett Arnold, Secretary, Hanceville Elementary, part-time, as needed
  • Susan Peinhardt, Custodian, Harmony, as needed
  • Cristi Easterwood, Summer secretarial work, Welti Elementary, part-time as needed
  • Rebecca Glass, Summer janitorial/maintenance work, Welti Elementary, as needed
  • Phillip Gay, Summer Work, Cullman Area Technology Academy, as needed 
  • Child Development Center Special Education Teachers – Karlie Baker, Breann Prince


2020-2021 Non-Faculty Coaches 

  • Charlie Lee Parris, Boys & Girls Cross Country, Boys & Girls Track, Cold Springs High, volunteer
  • Ron Collett, Boys & Girls Cross Country, Boys & Girls Track, Cold Springs High, volunteer
  • Todd Calvert, Boys & Girls Cross Country, Boys & Girls Track, Cold Springs High, volunteer
  • Nathan Brian Finley, Boys Basketball, Holly Pond Middle 
  • Jason Widner, Sr. High Softball, Holly Pond High 
  • Ty Wilson, Sr. High Football Assistant, Holly Pond High  


Other board items

  • Teachers paid for teaching summer reading camp – Teresa Looney, Ashley Uhrig, Kristy Harris, Kristi Seal 
  • Request approved for Selina Butts, Phyllis Jo Harris and Michele Robertson to assist the Technology & Curriculum departments with parents/guardians during Kindergarten Registration, paid substitute rate of $75 a day
  • Request approved for West Point Middle to pay the following $1,000 each to clean and wax floors this summer: Toby Denson, Nick White, Bryant Farley
  • Request approved for West Point Middle to pay Greg Burrow $500 for summer maintenance needs


The board also approved the 2020/21 salary schedule, but has not released that information. The Tribune will present that information, along with other personnel items, when they are available.

The CCBOE will meet next on Thursday, July 16, 2020 in the board room at the central office. Attendance may be restricted due to COVID-19.

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W.C. Mann