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Marietta Daily Journal Podcast

School board chair says improving literacy is the focus in 2023

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Show Notes

Kerry Minervini was once a PTA member looking to make a difference as the mom of two boys in Marietta City Schools.

Now, she has begun her second consecutive, year-long term as chair of the Marietta Board of Education, after an unanimous vote by the seven-member board to return her to the role.

In March, Minervini will mark six years as a board member. She recalls coming into the role thinking she knew what the board did, though she quickly realized she “had no clue.”

With all that happened in 2022, from three new board members to shuffling through three different principals at Marietta High School, Minervini deemed it “the year of change.”

Even with almost six years under her belt, then, 2022 was another learning curve for Minervini.

Minervini said challenges the board had to address early in 2022 included an uptick in student discipline issues following the 2021 Christmas break, something she said was not helped by the social experiences kids lost to COVID.

Minervini is turning her sights toward the district’s priorities for 2023 after a year that was defined by uncertainties.

She identified five areas that the board will focus on this year, starting with the top priority: improving district-wide literacy.

Minervini said third grade reading levels are significant indicators of a student’s future success, and that “a really large portion” of Marietta third graders were below the reading level.

Rivera said 37.5% of the district's third graders scored below grade level on the English language arts portion of the Georgia Milestones End of Grade tests. It’s on the district, she said, to bring those reading levels up, which it will attempt to do through targeted tutoring programs this month for third graders at each of the district’s elementary schools who need extra help.

Minervini said parents had to opt their children into the programs, which will be small-group tutoring sessions after school.

The program will run until the district’s next round of MAP testing in April, she noted, at which time the board “is hoping to see some return on investment.”

Gary Varner built Allatoona’s football program from the ground up, turning it into a consistent winner and molding it into one of the best programs in the state.

Now, the only head coach the Buccaneers have known is ready to hand the reins to someone else to keep the ship afloat.

Varner stepped down from his post Tuesday, shortly after having a meeting with his players and sending out an email message to parents. The move comes with the hope that Varner can finally get healthy.

During the second half of his tenure at Allatoona, Varner has underwent three cancer surgeries — the last coming last spring. It limited him to having to coach the first half of the 2022 season from the press box.

Once the season was complete, Varner and his family — he and his wife, Emily, have four children — came to the conclusion that it was the right time to step away. Former Harrison coach Matt Dickmann, a good friend and on-field adversary of Varner’s, said he was happy to know that Varner would be putting himself first for a change. Through his health issues, Varner may have done some of his best coaching this season.

After Allatoona got off to a 1-5 start, which included close losses to ranked teams Kell and Cartersville, it rallied to win its final four games of the regular season and then won a first-round playoff game to finish the year 6-6.

It marked the 13th straight season in which Allatoona made the playoffs.

The William Root House Museum from February 1-25 will have the house as it would have appeared during a Victorian-era wedding and reception.

No wedding had a greater impact on marriage rituals and traditions than Queen Victoria's wedding to Prince Albert on February 10, 1840. Southerners, in particular, had a fascination with the British aristocracy and eagerly adopted their customs and etiquette. Museum visitors will see how a Southern middle-class family like the Roots would have planned their nuptials and learn the origin of many wedding customs and traditions still practiced today. Nineteenth century wedding illustrations, invitations and an authentic 1860s gown will be displayed during this exhibit. Exhibit admission is included in the cost of regular museum admission.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the William Root House will also host a special after-hours program called “Sex, Love, and Marriage in Victorian America” on February 18 at 7 p.m. This program is restricted to guests 18 years or older. Tickets for this program are $15 per person and must be purchased online in advance. Space is limited.

For more information, visit WilliamRootHouse.com/Wedding.

The Development Authority of Cobb County took the first step this week toward approving an additional $1.5 million in bonds for a senior living apartment complex in south Cobb.

The Prestwick Development and Marietta Housing Authority-backed venture previously received $13.5 million for the project, but representatives said rising construction costs required them to ask for more financing.

The vote to approve an inducement resolution — which moves the authority closer to issuing new bonds — carried 6-0, with board member Karen Hallacy absent.

The project, dubbed “Meredith Park,” sits near the intersection of Powder Springs Road and Anderson Farm Road, just southwest of the East-West Connector. First proposed in 2019, the complex of nearly 150 apartments targeted to renters ages 55 and up is expected to be completed in February. Josh Marx of Prestwick said that the cost overruns are due to rising material costs over the last several years, not any changes to the design of the project.

He added that the project is targeted to residents earning between 40% and 80% of the area median income ($25,000 to $65,000 per family), with a guarantee rent won’t take up more than 30% of a resident’s income.

The Roadrunner Sensory Room is now open at Rocky Mount Elementary for students to decompress during the school day.

The room offers an array of toys, games and furniture children can enjoy, including beanbags and a mini trampoline.

Rocky Mount Principal Cheri Vaniman told the MDJ the room is for all students to use when they need to or when their teachers schedule time for it. The room has items for relaxation like weighted blankets, and a punching bag if students feel like they need to punch something. The items for the room were donated to the school by Piedmont Church.

Sage Doolittle, Rocky Mount's assistant principal, said students need opportunities to refocus in the middle of a busy school day.

#CobbCounty #Georgia #LocalNews     






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