Newton Poll - 11/14/09

"To the comment that was made about officers and deputies on doing their job and on what qualifies as either: you can thank all the other low lifes in the city and county on keeping both busy and getting up everyday with the way the economy is, be thankful that they are even still willing to get up and oh yes put their life on the line everyday! So word of advice: if you or anyone else is worried about child support, how about reproducing with responsible people. To all the officers and deputies -- Good job you do!"

"My comment is related to the new Theme School - Clements. I have read many negative things in the poll and attended a few meetings that have reflected negatively on this school. I would like to say that I am a parent volunteer that is in that building at least four out of five days a week. There are some great things going on with the students at Clements. Every classroom that I have the chance to walk past during the day is totally engaged in great learning activities. The staff spends many days meeting after school discussing ways to better reach the students. With the shortage of subs this staff truly pulls together and makes sure that every class is covered from within, never complaining and making sure that the lack of a sub does not impact the students learning for the day. I just felt that someone who sees that good things are happening every day should share. I think a lot of parents thought that a parent involvement school meant they would be able to make the rules, and since they can't they complain. The involvement comes by being there as much as possible to volunteer and help the staff with their needs. The leadership and staff have shown great strength in facing the challenges of opening a new school with a new concept and they should be thanked."

"I think the substitute policy is punishing our children in the county. My daughter went several weeks without a teacher at VMMS because one was on medical leave and no sub was provided. I would imagine that failing to provide the required personnel for a special needs students, as was reported here, would be illegal. I can't imagine a better example of cutting off your nose to spite your face. Let's not have teachers for the students, then spend tons of money and go into overdrive when they can't pass the mandated tests. As for the comment that Quest teachers are not asked to help out, let me just say this: my youngest is in Quest. His teacher is phenomenal with the minimal resources she is allotted. People tend to think that the Quest kids don't need as much just because they are on the other side of the learning curve. But the Quest program in this county is woefully underfunded, understaffed and overlooked. Why? Because these kids don't need to be taught to pass the mandated tests to assure funding? This system is failing our kids at every level."

"Congratulations to the BOE and the Clements Theme School administrators for making Clements 'just another school.' We, as parents, were promised better-than-average teachers, innovative approach, open door policy into the school, zero tolerance for behavior, etc. Parents had to agree to a strict behavior code for students (with the understanding that the children would return to their former school if they did not comply), mandatory volunteer hours, mandatory conference and PTO meetings. In reality, parents have to figure out ways to be involved in the school and in the classrooms, because the administration has strict policies against parents in areas with the students. Sure, we are allowed to go to the volunteer room, make copies, and quietly leave, but that is not involvement or ability to know what is going on in your child's classroom or during their day. ... Students, who continually disrupt the classrooms, are still at the school (so much for the strict behavior code). Parents are not being held accountable for attending conferences or PTO meetings. Now, we received a note that you can send in money in place of serving your volunteer hours. We were patient for the first quarter and are heading to the close of the second quarter. Things are not any better than they were on day one. My child is still not being challenged in the classroom and having to deal with daily confusion, disruptions, and coldness by the administration. Please BOE and school superintendent -- make some changes! Make the theme school campus great for our kids!"

"I would like to comment on the Newton-Luella football game on Friday night at Sharp Field. It was a great game with Newton winning and going to the playoffs, but there were three problems that need addressing: 1. With 37 seconds left in the game, a Luella player was seriously hurt where he had to be removed by ambulance. A Newton ambulance was at the game, but was only staffed by one EMT. One EMT cannot do everything that needs to be done to package a player that is hurt like this was one was. Almost shades of a few years ago. 2. During this time, there were a number of rude students from the Newton side that were gathered to rush the field when the game was over. Repeatedly, they were told to be quiet while the teams knelt and awaited the fate of the injured player. The bandstand was quiet, yet these students were adamant to ignore the pleas and suggestions to quiet down during this. This behavior should not go unnoticed by the school administration, nor by the parents of the students. This is nothing but pure, common courtesy, something that is taught at home. 3. Under GHSA rules, there should be no band playing or announcing when either team is lined up to run a play. Several times, we had both, the band playing, and the announcer telling the band to silence. Both are distracting to the play, and I am surprised that the officials did not penalize Newton for those infractions, which they could easily do and could have adversely affected the outcome of the game. If we are to be a championship team and school, then we need to fix the problems and act like one. Learn from this."

"Maybe the city of Covington needs to enact a municipal ordinance requiring property owners or residents to cut the grass in front yards after it gets 8 or 10 inches high. Then the city could hire a code enforcement officer, provide him or her with a vehicle, and require them to ride around in the city limits and when a person was not in compliance with said ordinance, to be issued a summons to appear in court."

"Received my 2009 Downtown Covington Holiday Catalog yesterday and after looking through it and seeing the prices, I will be shopping at Kmart, Wal-Mart and the Dollar Store once again this year. We are a retired couple living on $2,200 a month, and after we pay our bills and buy a few groceries we don't have much left to spend on 10 grandchildren at Christmas time. I wish someone would take a poll and find out the median income of Newton County residents. I think maybe this would help the vendors on the Square to understand why most of us don't shop there. We simply can't afford the prices."

Editors note: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Newton County in 2007 (the most recent figures available, was $49,080, compared to the U.S. median household income of $50,740.

"Many thanks for your for article honoring WWII veteran Gerald Hipps for his service. He and his fellow veterans deserve our utmost respect and thanks. I was a 10-year-old boy when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The guys of his age group were quick to enlist. My cousin was at the helm of a U.S. Navy destroyer in six major battles in the Pacific. (Sadly, my neighbor was a crewman on the USS Arizona) It wasn't long before the women got involved in the WAAC, (Army), WAVES (Navy) and the U.S. Marines. What they did for me was to allow me to have a normal childhood, something the kids in Europe and Asia didn't have. We had no air raids and nobody invaded our country. Right after Pearl Harbor, I remember going into downtown Camden, N.J., with my mother. There were recruiting offices set up in storefronts. And there were long lines of young men anxious to enlist. That's the kind of guys Gerald Hipps and his buddies were. They fought and died for our country. I'll never forget them, and I hope the young people of today don't forget them, either."

"C'mon Dr. Whatley, get a clue. I can't speak for all schools but it is well known and easily observed how low morale is at NHS. But this is not due to how the board is dealing with our economic issues. It is due to the vacancy of leadership. ... there has and continues to be a large void of leadership and a large parcel of 'passing the buck' when it comes to the responsibilities of getting things done. Many long time teachers at NHS (and our very best ones) speak of seeking opportunity elsewhere for the next school year precisely due to either an inability to communicate effectively their concerns to the administration or due to a repeat of a second year of 'nobody is really at the helm of this ship' syndrome. In my almost two decades in that building I have never seen the morale so low. Again, this is not due to economic concerns."

"Another example of the efficiently run county government! The Newton County Health Department does not deem it necessary to post a sign at the check-in area saying that they are out of flu shots. Although they have numerous signs outside posted that flu shots are available, once you get inside and follow the instructions to take a number and then wait at least 45 minutes until you are called to the counter are you told they have no shots. Score another one for public education."

"When will the Newton County Board of Education wake up. How much longer will they allow Eastside High School to be embarrassed? I was at the Eastside/LoveJoy game several years ago when a player was brutally thrown to the ground by a coach. I was at El Charro's this time last year when the talk of the town was about the Eastside head coach getting arrested. I was at the Eastside/Franklin County game last week when the head coach and the defensive coordinator were thrown out of the game. Now, I pick up the paper and see where the head coach and the defensive coordinator were suspended for the playoff game. I am more concerned about the head coach. ... Come on Newton County, our boys, our school and our county deserve better. Thank goodness my son is a senior."

Editor's note: The coach who was arrested was cleared of all charges.

"It is a shame that the Newton County School System, school board members, and Gov. Perdue are trying to balance their budgets on the backs of our teachers and educational support staff. It should be noted that some of the furlough days suggested (and previously taken) have been teacher work days. I have often heard sarcastic remarks from people who say 'Well, it's about time you had a work day. School has been in session for a couple of months!' These work days are supposedly built into our calendar to provide time for the ever-growing mountain of paperwork required by our administrators, mundane chores such as record-keeping, bulletin boards, room disinfecting, and for preparing permanent records and report cards. Most teachers are actually on their feet actively teaching during the school day and do not take care of these tasks while children are in their rooms. What our leaders are counting on, and what in fact happens, is that conscientious teachers will get these tasks accomplished whether it's by coming to work on unscheduled work days (that's what happened on the days prior to school starting) or staying late each afternoon. This is in addition to taking home reams of papers to grade each evening and spending at least one afternoon each weekend completing lesson plans. Days earlier designated as staff development days and now tentatively designated as furlough days (which we will not be paid for) were to be spent on activities for enhancing instruction. The days are scheduled to be taken away, but of course the activities have been rescheduled for completion by teachers during the afternoon hours after student dismissal. This is another indication that pay is deducted, but duties, requirements, responsibilities, and in some cases, hours put in, have not changed. ... "

"After many years in the Newton County schools, I can say that I have never seen such low teacher morale. Many of my co-workers have spouses who also work for the school system and are facing twice the family income reduction I have. Most of us in the classrooms of Newton County do share a feeling of altruism and the feeling of being 'called' to this profession. The reality is that in spite of those warm fuzzy feelings, we would like to be thought of as professionals whose contributions to the children of Newton County and the state of Georgia are not expendable. We would like to think that both the governor and local leaders are exhausting other avenues of fiscal frugality before they take the easy way out of budgetary shortfalls by taking more paydays from public school employees."