Board members honored for their service
Board of Education members recognized for outstanding service
During the Gaston County Board of Education meeting on Monday, November 21, the Board took time to recognize and honor three of its members – Kevin Collier, Justin Davis, and Steve Hall, who are concluding their service to Gaston County Schools.
Collier, Davis, and Hall did not seek re-election to the Board of Education in the recent general election. Davis and Hall have served on the Board since 2018, and Collier is completing 24 years on the Board of Education, which he first joined in 1998.
As Board of Education members, elected officials, and public servants, Collier, Davis, and Hall answered the call to dedicate a part of their lives to the children and employees of Gaston County Schools. They have worked diligently to make decisions with the best interest of students, employees, and the community always in mind.
Recognition of Justin Davis and Steve Hall
Davis was appointed to the Board of Education in March 2018 to fill a vacancy for the South Point Township seat, and he was elected to a full, four-year term in November 2018. Hall was elected in November 2018 as well, serving as the Dallas Township representative for a four-year term.
During their time on the Board, they collaborated with other Board members, Superintendent Booker, school administrators, parents, community leaders, and elected officials to improve educational opportunities for children in Gaston County.
Davis and Hall joined the Board of Education at a time when the school district was observing its 50th anniversary as the unified Gaston County Schools and celebrating the opening of new school campuses for Pleasant Ridge Elementary and Stanley Middle. They supported efforts to build new schools and make renovations and repairs at existing schools as a result of the 2018 school bond referendum that was approved by citizens with almost 70 percent of the vote.
During their time on the Board, Davis and Hall focus on efforts to:
⬝ expand school choice programs;
⬝ build a new campus for Belmont Middle School;
⬝ enhance classroom technology, provide wireless Internet access, and make available a Chromebook computer for every student to use at school and at home;
⬝ improve pay and salary supplements for employees;
⬝ increase safety and security at all schools; and
⬝ give more attention to Career and Technical Education, which now ranks among the best programs in the state.
Further, Davis and Hall worked alongside their fellow Board members and Superintendent Booker to provide guidance and make critical decisions as the district navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented and drastic effects on the regular operation of schools.
Recognition of Kevin Collier
As a respected member of the Board of Education, Collier provided guidance and leadership, offered advice and expertise, and made decisions that affected all areas of school district operations during his 24-year tenure. Below are five highlights:
▪ Collier worked with numerous Board of Education members and three superintendents – Ed Sadler, Reeves McGlohon, and Jeff Booker, and he was involved in the interview, selection, and hiring process of Mr. McGlohon and Dr. Booker to lead the school system.
▪ Collier supported multi-million-dollar school bond referendums in 2001, 2007, and 2018 (totaling more than 500 million dollars) to build new schools, add classroom buildings, and make critical repairs and renovations at schools across the county;
▪ Collier participated in grand opening and ribbon-cutting celebrations for 11 schools – from Highland School of Technology and Bessemer City Central Elementary in 2000 and Sadler Elementary and Beam Intermediate in 2004 to Belmont Middle and the Gaston Early College of Medical Sciences just last year;
▪ Collier advocated for the concept of school choice in Gaston County Schools, which began in 2000 with the opening of Highland, the county’s first magnet high school. Today, there are 21 school choice and magnet school programs, and this includes a virtual academy for online learning.
▪ Collier favored the expansion of technology and supported efforts to make sure students and teachers had the computing devices necessary to teach and learn effectively in a 21st century school environment, everything from SMART Boards to Chromebooks. He worked with Ron and Katherine Harper on the successful, four-million-dollar campaign that put a SMART Board in every classroom.
Additionally, Mr. Collier offered guidance, support, and wise counsel for his fellow Board members as they faced challenges together like during the COVID-19 pandemic and provided necessary leadership, especially during his time serving as both the Board chairman and vice chairman.
In 2010, Gaston County Schools encountered serious budget issues because of the economic downturn. Despite having to make critical financial decisions, Collier stood up for protecting the classroom as much as possible because he believes what takes place for children in the classroom is most important. Collier collaborated with his fellow Board members to seek ways to provide higher pay and salary supplements for teachers and other employees, which has been a top priority for the Board, especially in recent years. He also supported more professional development programs and opportunities for employees.
Over the years, Collier worked with other Board members to do all that he could to strengthen the instructional program and provide more academic opportunities for students, including a renewed focus on Career and Technical Education (CTE) and efforts to expand CTE and increase community partnerships for CTE. Further, he advocated to increase security measures at our schools, including the presence of police resource officers long before they became commonplace in schools. During his tenure, Collier made school safety a priority and emphasized its utmost importance.
Additionally, Collier saw schools, students, teachers, and employees give from their heart to support many charitable causes, including the United Way of Gaston County and other organizations that are responsible for making the community better. He was delighted to see the spirit of caring and giving when Gaston County Schools collected some $65,000 over three different years for school districts in North and South Carolina that were affected by hurricanes and devastating floods. The collection was part of the district’s “Nickels 4 Neighbors” program in 2015, 2016, and 2018.
A few of the most significant school bond referendum projects during Collier’s tenure include classroom additions at a number of schools; the renovation of Hunter Huss High School; the purchase of the former Hope Lutheran School that was transformed into Hawks Nest Intermediate and now Hawks Nest STEAM Academy; and the construction and opening of Stuart W. Cramer High School in 2013. Just in the past five years, Collier has been involved in Gaston County Schools building new schools to replacing the aging Pleasant Ridge Elementary, Stanley Middle, and Belmont Middle facilities, and he takes pride in the partnership with Gaston College to establish not one, but two Early College high schools on the college campus in Dallas.
From serving on committees and attending special events to listening to their constituents and making decisions for the betterment of schools, there is no doubt that Kevin Collier, Justin Davis, and Steve Hall have left their mark on Gaston County Schools. As a token of appreciation, each outgoing member received a crystal vase in recognition of their service to the Board of Education.
Click here to watch the recognition of Collier, Davis, and Hall during the Board of Education meeting on November 21.
New Board of Education members
During the November general election, A.M. Stephens was elected to represent the Riverbend Township, Tod Kinlaw was elected to represent the South Point Township, and Josh Crisp was elected to represent the Dallas Township. Additionally, Lee Dedmon (Gastonia Township) and Dot Cherry (at-large member) were re-elected to the Board of Education.
On Monday, December 5, the five elected members of the Board will participate in an induction/swearing-in ceremony at 9:00 a.m. at the Gaston County Courthouse. Following the ceremony, the Board will convene at 10:00 a.m. at the Gaston County Schools Central Office to conduct its organizational meeting, which involves the selection of the Board chairman and vice chairman for the next two years.
Following the organizational meeting, the Board will conduct its regular monthly meeting for December; this is in lieu of having a regular meeting on December 19 as originally scheduled. The meetings will be televised live on Spectrum Cable Channel 21 and the Gaston County Board of Education YouTube channel.