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School board member surrenders post
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SPRINGFIELD -- A proud mama officially sacrificed her job Thursday so that her daughter could achieve a career objective.

Beth Helmly surrendered her District 4 seat on the Effingham County Board of Education so that Katy Whitten could become an assistant principal at Effingham County High School. A state law enacted in 2009 prohibits school board members and superintendents from having immediate family members in high-ranking positions in the districts they serve.

Helmly submitted her resignation letter July 16 and it was accepted during Thursday's regularly scheduled board meeting.

"It has been a privilege and honor to serve the citizens of Effingham County these past five years," Helmly's letter said. "It is my sincere hope that the individual chosen to represent the fourth district will continue to place at the forefront of all of the decision making in the best interests of the students, parents and staff of Effingham County."

After reading Helmy's letter, Superintendent Dr. Randy Shearouse commented on the first item on the meeting's agenda.

"Mrs. Helmly did as all of us as parents would do if our children had an opportunity," he said. "We would probably be willing to give up something for those opportunities."

Helmly had three years left on her second full term.

"The next step for the board will be choosing the next person," Shearouse said. "Also, the holding of a special election (is an option)."

Shearouse is checking into what the legal requirements of a succession plan are.

In Thursday's second move of the meeting, the board approved the purchase of three new air-conditioned buses. 

"We got some good news kind of late in the game," Shearouse said. "We purchased buses early on. We knew we had two that we were getting from the state but we actually received word that we could get three additional buses from the state."

The state provides $77,220 for each bus. The district will have to furnished an additional $15,600 to complete each $98,820 purchase.

Before the board tackled a short agenda, Shearouse received an award from the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL). It was presented by Effingham County Assistant Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford.

"We were at the GAEL Conference this past week (at Jekyll Island) and Dr. Shearouse couldn't join us," Ford said. "There are one hundred eighty something superintendents in the state of Georgia and ours is being honored with the Jim Puckett Outstanding Educator Award. This is award is presented to outstanding educational leaders from each of the GAEL affiliates who are selected from member nominations based upon exemplary leadership characteristics, which means that his colleagues voted on this."

At the GAEL Conference, Shearouse's award was announced by a Georgia School Superintendents Association representative.

Effingham County's Kristie Long won the Jim Puckett Outstanding Educator Award for the Student Support Team for Georgia Educators. She is a student support services specialist and English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) coordinator.

"That's pretty big when you have two people from Effingham County get acknowledged and win an award on behalf of the work they do for our school district and our kids," Ford said.