Tate renovation discussions continue
By Eileen Steinhauer
Shane Purdy was recently hired as the next principal of Jasper Middle School.
Last Friday, at a called Board of Education meeting, it was announced that Dr. Chris LeMieux, current principal of Pickens County Middle School, will be the next principal of Pickens High School, and Shane Purdy, current assistant superintendent of Lincoln County Schools, will be the next principal of Jasper Middle School.
These decisions come after the retirement of former PHS principal Eddie McDonald and the resignation of former JMS principal Neil Howell. The school board did not announce who will replace LeMieux at PCMS.
“Congratulations to both of these men. We are excited about their placements and are looking forward to the work they will do on behalf of our students,” said Superintendent Dr. Lula Mae Perry.
Board member Peggy Andrews said to LeMieux, “We are excited about you moving to PHS; however, you will certainly be missed at PCMS.”
PHS Principal Dr. Chris LeMieux
LeMieux, who has a doctorate degree in education, has been the principal of PCMS since 2001. Prior to his work at PCMS, he taught social studies for ten years and was the assistant Principal at Creekland Middle School in Lawrenceville, Georgia for three years.
“First of all, I want to thank the Pickens County School Board and Superintendent Dr. Lula Mae Perry for the opportunity to serve as the new PHS principal. I also want to express my gratitude to Principal Eddie McDonald for his leadership and friendship over the years. I ask that the Pickens County community keep me in their prayers and positive thoughts as I embark as the new leader of Pickens High School,” said LeMieux.
“I am looking forward to meeting new people and working with the excellent staff at PHS to help them achieve great things for the students of our community. I am chomping at the bit to work with the PHS school improvement team to hear their thoughts and ideas about school improvement,” LeMieux said. “I have been fortunate to be part of several schools of excellences in the past, including PCMS. I have enjoyed the high levels of motivation and skill that it takes to become a school of excellence and to sustain that level of achievement.”
LeMieux also added that he is very interested in helping the PHS staff and student body become a state and national school of excellence in three prominent areas - (1) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), (2) Career, Technical, Agricultural Education (CTAE), and (3) student reading comprehension achievement levels.
In terms of moving from the middle school to the high school, LeMieux said that the size of the school is the most obvious change. However, when he first began as the principal at PCMS, it was the only middle school in the county and had over 1,000 students.
In addition to the vocational program, LeMieux said that the high school has a substantial extracurricular program for students to participate in numerous sporting, fine arts, and competitive academic events.
“My desire is to help PHS achieve excellence in the three A’s – academics, arts, and athletics. If academics is the engine that runs the school, it is the extracurricular activities that are the seats, steering wheel, brakes, etc., that help the car run smoothly,” said LeMieux
JMS Principal Shane Purdy
Purdy, who has a specialist degree in educational leadership, has been the assistant superintendent of Lincoln County Schools for one year. Prior to his current position, he taught English and coached basketball for nine years at Lumpkin County High School and was the assistant principal and principal at Rabun County Middle School in Tiger, Georgia for five years.
“Since my time teaching and coaching in Lumpkin County, I have always held Pickens County in high regard,” said Purdy. “Pickens was the county in the mountains that seemed to always be a little ahead of the curve in many ways, and they always had the resources to obtain success. My wife and I absolutely love the mountains and have spent our college years and our entire professional careers, until this year, in the mountains.”
After having served a year as an assistant superintendent, Purdy said that he is excited to be returning to a full time school setting.
“I thought I wanted to climb the ladder until I actually sat right beside the top. I quickly realized being behind a desk [as assistant superintendent] and combing through data, purchase orders, federal funds, and policies was not my passion. It is needed in our job, but I need to be around people again,” said Purdy. “I figured out quickly that I should be in the school because that is where I have always wanted to be, and it is where my passion resides.”
Tate renovation talks continue
In other school board news, Rick Little has continued discussions with Charles Black Construction Company in order to further reduce the bid placed by the company on the Tate renovation project. Charles Black was the only company to bid on the Tate project. The bid was $1 million over the original estimated cost of the project.
According to Little, in recent discussions, the idea has been presented to reduce the size of the Tate renovation, and it was suggested by Charles Black that the majority of the façade for the new renovation be changed from marble to stucco. Both of these measures could help reduce the cost of the project from the original Charles Black bid of $3.9 million to $3.4 million. The original estimated cost for the project was $2.75 million.
None of the school board members were fans of the stucco façade idea.
“I’ve never seen stucco as a hardy material, and I’m not sure how the look will fit with the rest of the school,” said Board Chair Wendy Lowe.
The Board did reintroduce the idea of rebidding the project.
BOE member Mike Cowart asked if there was still an option to rebid the project, and Lowe asked if there was still the possibility to get the project cost back down to the original estimated cost if it was rebid soon.
Should the project be rebid, Little suggested that it would be better to wait until August or September.