BY KENDYL HOLLINGSWORTH
LEE COUNTY —
The Lee County Board of Education gave special recognition to six high school student-athletes at its regular meeting Jan. 10.
JaNiah Hoskins, a junior and softball player at Smiths Station High School, received recognition for her winning essay on racial justice for the Lee County Remembrance Project, titled “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Alabama’s Voter Suppression History.”
“JaNiah is one of many students we have at Smiths Station High School that are exceptional,” said Brad Cook, principal. “… I’m very proud to recognize JaNiah Hoskins in front of the board tonight.”
Superintendent Mac McCoy said he met Hoskins shortly before the holiday break in December and was impressed with her essay.
“She’s a very special young lady,” he added. “… Not only is she a brilliant student — she’s a heck of an athlete, I understand.”
The board also recognized five football players who made the 2022 All-State teams. In class 5A, Beauregard senior defensive back Kyan Maloy was named first-team All-State and Beauregard junior running back Jacori Tarver achieved honorable mention. In class 1A, Loachapoka senior defensive back JC Hart was named First-Team All-State, Loachapoka senior running back Jamaroun Satterwhite was named Second-Team All-State and Loachapoka junior defensive lineman Jamari Payne was named Second-Team All-State.
Maloy and Tarver were present with their head coach, Justin Jones.
“It’s an honor, first of all, to be invited here for something like this … for the young men to be recognized for the hard work they put in and the season that we had at Beauregard,” Jones said.
Later in the meeting, Todd Smith and Kyle Keith of Schneider Electric gave a presentation on the company’s services and explained how it can help the school system increase efficiency to decrease utility costs.
Schneider Electric has partnerships with several other school systems across the state, including Madison County Schools, Lauderdale County Schools, Gulf Shores City Schools and Alexander City Schools, among others.
According to the presentation, the energy management company fills a variety of roles when working with school systems: financial services, design and engineering, public affairs and outreach, construction management, support services and performance guarantee.
“With our role at Schneider, this is a true partnership with school systems,” Smith said. “Going back to the very first couple of … clients that partnered with us and trust us — 15, 20 years ago — we are still partnered with them to this day and that’s because of the turnkey solution that we provide.
“It’s everything from designing and engineering the program on the front end, it’s implementing it and overseeing it to make sure that everything is done of quality and that it’s going to be able to stand the test of time. And then, also, it’s everything after the fact — so everything that we do, we’re making sure that we’re hitting all the measures that we’re supposed to and that your buildings are performing the way they should.”
In response to a question from District 6 Board Member Larry Patterson, Keith and Smith said the top three areas for improvement are typically heating and air, lighting and building envelope — such as doors, windows and sealants.
Based on utility data Schneider Electric collected for Lee County Schools from the 2020-2021 school year, the district was spending just under $2.8 million on utilities, which Keith said is above average.
The presentation indicated that Schneider Electric could help decrease utility costs by about 24 to 29%; the district could then reinvest those funds to fulfill other needs within the schools.
District 1 Board Member Mark Tomlin asked how Schneider would guarantee performance, and Keith said specialized Schneider Electric teams would work closely and regularly with Lee County Schools staff to identify needs, set goals, develop plans and evaluate progress frequently along the way. Keith also said all documents are available for both Schneider Electric teams and Lee County Schools staff to see. In addition, savings are calculated using a third-party software.
“We’ve met 99.6% of our guarantees, but when we’ve done that over almost 1,000 clients, we’ve come back and written checks to around 40 of those clients, so we continually meet our obligations,” Keith said.
Five community members spoke at the end of the meeting, bringing up concerns about health insurance for employees, as well as alleged distractions and immorality in the schools.
Ronnie Kilpatrick of Smiths Station said he is concerned about students being allowed to come to school dressed as animals and acting like them, among other issues.
“For me, I get easily distracted,” added Smiths Station High School junior McKayla Conway. “I know some other students have gotten distracted as well, and sometimes the issue has gotten out of hand.
“… I’ve heard multiple students have the same issue with kids disrupting classes and classrooms with some of the issues … like with their meowing and making remarks and stuff like that in school that shouldn’t even have been allowed.
“… School is supposed to be about learning and education and succeeding in what you want to do, and yes, I understand there are some kids that want to figure out things with their own selves and all that, but that’s something that needs to be discussed with them and their parents. It does not need to be pushed on other students.”
Vanessa Ortiz brought up concerns about the potentially misleading name of a club for LGBTQ+ students and said she and her family recently moved to the area from California, “trading comfort for morality.”
Kaitlyn Hudson and her mother, Amanda Irvin, both work in the Lee County school system and expressed concerns about health insurance eligibility offerings and requirements for employees hired through other companies, such as Kelly Services.
In other business, the board approved various out-of-state and overnight field trips for high school band and athletics, as well as several human resources recommendations. Chief School Financial Officer Ken Roberts gave a brief monthly financial report for November 2022, but since it is only the second month in the fiscal year, he said the information does not yet provide meaningful data as it relates to budget goals.
The next meeting of the Lee County Board of Education will be held Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. at the central office, located at 2410 Society Hill Road in Opelika.