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Board of Education selects names for schools

COVINGTON - The Newton County Board of Education voted at its Tuesday work session on the names of the new elementary and middle schools being built on Salem Road.

The board members unanimously approved South Salem Elementary School and Liberty Middle School as the names.

Board member Cathy Dobbs made the motion for South Salem.

"I think it's important to recognize and honor the community of Salem that has been a part of the community for a long time," she said.

Dobbs said she thought South Salem, rather than Salem, would help reduce confusion from Salem High School and any Rockdale schools.

Vice Chair Rickie Corley suggested the name for Liberty Middle School.

"Liberty represents freedom and choices, and we have that in our schools," he said.

In early November, the Newton County School System asked community members to send in their choices for school names.

In December, the board announced that it received about 25 names from community suggestions, including South Salem, Mills Creek, Cowan-Mills and T.K. Adams for the elementary school, Timber Ridge for the middle school and Salem, Twin Towers and Bailey Oaks for both schools.

"I was really disappointed in the choices we had," said board member Cathy Dobbs at December's meeting. "Personally, I was disappointed in the lack of participation."

At January's work session, board members chose names, which didn't have to be on the list submitted by the community, and said they would vote on those choices at January's board meeting; however the vote was tabled at the January meeting.

"I think we need to take a little more time. We want to make sure we do the right thing," said board member Cathy Dobbs at January's meeting, when they tabled the vote.

The elementary school is scheduled to open in time for the 2008-09 school year, and the middle school is scheduled to open for the 2009-10 school year.

In other Newton BOE news, the board approved Tuesday the resignation of Joe Gheesling, principal of Newton High School, effective May 31.

Gheesling announced Tuesday that this school year would be his last at Newton High School; he accepted a position of principal at North Hall High School in Gainesville for the 2008-09 school year.

"Mr. Gheesling has served admirably the students and staff of Newton High," according to a press statement released by NCSS after Tuesday's meeting. "He is a very principled leader who cares about his students' achievement, their success and the performance of his staff. He will be missed."

NCSS also announced that Dennis Carpenter would begin his duties as associate superintendent for Human Resources at NCSS pending his release from Appling County Schools. Donald Dunnigan announced his resignation as associate superintendent for Human Resources at NCSS in January to accept a position in another school district.

Carpenter is currently assistant superintendent for Support Services for Appling County Schools and served as a fourth-grade teacher, assistant principal and principal before that.

"Mr. Carpenter is an intelligent, enthusiastic educator with the administrative and leadership ability to manage the Human Resources Division," according to a press statement from NCSS Tuesday. "His professional knowledge and competencies and his personal characteristics will enable him to lead us in the recruitment, employment and retention of a competent staff."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.