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Gainesville school board appoints new campuswide principal at middle school

POSTED: March 1, 2008 5:00 a.m.

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GAINESVILLE — Gainesville High School Freshman Academy principal Ken Martin has been named the new campuswide principal at Gainesville Middle School.

He fills a position that has been vacant since Mike Schlabra left the system after the 2006-07 school year. Schlabra, who spent one year at GMS, now serves as the director of curriculum and federal programs for Gilmer County schools.

As part of his duties, Martin would head a newly planned Sixth Grade Academy at the middle school, said Elfreda Lakey, the district’s human resources director, at the Gainesville City Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

He would oversee all campuswide activities, including the school’s transition to a new building off Jesse Jewell Parkway in the fall of 2009.

Gainesville Middle has three academies, or specialized areas of study: Classical Studies, Earth Quest and Humanities. Each academy has its own principal.

Martin, who couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday night, will continue in his Gainesville High duties through the end of the school year, Lakey said.

But during that time, he would work with Gainesville Middle administrators and teachers in a transition to his new post, she added.

Gainesville High principal Mike Kemp "is very much in agreement with this and he’s going to work very hard with him," Lakey said.

The school system also is looking to fill an assistant principal post at Gainesville Middle.

This decade, leadership stability has been an issue at Gainesville Middle.

When Schlabra arrived in the fall of 2006 from Roswell, he became the school’s fourth principal since 2001.

Over the course of the year, he went from overseeing the school to having equal footing with other academy principals as part of a "leadership council" and overseeing the school’s Transitional Academy.

He resigned March 8 citing "personal and family" issues.

Martin started at Gainesville High in 2003 as a science teacher. Previously, he had 13 years of experience teaching students in middle and high school.

He earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Georgia in August 2000. He also has his bachelor’s degree from Mercer University.

Martin was promoted in July 2006 to what was then an assistant principal post in charge of Gainesville High’s newly created Ninth Grade Academy.

The high school officially launched its academies — also including Arts & Sciences Academy, Civil International Academy and Careers.net Academy — this school year.

In other business at Tuesday night’s meeting, school officials talked about a schedule for approving a budget for fiscal 2007-08, which begins July 1.

Public hearings, although not required by law, could take place between May 5 and June 2, chief financial officer Janet Allison said.

She said, "We don’t need to be anticipating a (tax increase). ... That would be the goal, but I can’t promise that, not based on the (budget surplus) we may or may not be coming into (2008) with or what we’ll be going out with."

In another matter, Allison said she would work to provide more exact budget amounts regarding consultants who are helping the school district fix some bookkeeping problems that stem back to last fiscal year.

"It’s been a little difficult to come up with a budget," she said. "As with everything we’ve touched so far, it turns out to take a little longer than I’m anticipating."

School board member David Syfan said he would appreciate the effort.

"We’ve been using consultants for a while and I just want to get a feel for whether the end is in sight," he said.

A report last week by Allison and Superintendent Steven Ballowe notes that the system has faced challenges in converting to new accounting software and dealing with troubles regarding Allison’s predecessor, Angela Adams, and the retirement of a key department member.

Adams left the system last August and now is working with Buford city schools. She has declined comment on the matter.

Barrow County school officials are providing free help to the school system.

Also, Dennis Fordham, retired superintendent of Hall County schools, will help the Gainesville system put together its 2008-09 budget, as a consultant paid by Cleveland-based Pioneer Regional Educational Service Agency.

"I had one meeting with Dr. Fordham last week and he’ll be meeting with me again the first of March," Allison told the board Tuesday night.

Allison was a former payroll manager for Hall County schools.



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