Board raises Early Eagles tuition PHOTO

Lee Watson, who worked in the Graves County School District for 23 years, retired last week. He joined six others who had devoted their lives to the education of local children. The other retirees include Pam Goately (29 years), Kelly Day (28 years), Marilyn Foy (28 years), Andrea Robertson (27 years), Linda Osborne (21 years), and Paul Schaumburg (18 years). They were each gifted rocking chairs as parting gifts, a practice that had gone on for several years now, Superintendent Matthew Madding said.

Last week, the Graves County School Board voted to raise Early Eagle pricing and bid fond farewells to retiring staff.

The board unanimously voted 5-0 to permanently raise the pricing of its Early Eagle Academy program. According to the district’s website, the program is designed for children ages 3-5, and emphasizes “building school-readiness skills in a playful environment.”

For full-time students, the price was raised from $25 to $30 a day. For students participating part time, it was raised from $30 to $35 a day. For half-day students, it was raised from $15 to $18 a day. A $25 dollar registration fee has also been added for parents wanting to utilize the program over the summer, Superintendent Matthew Madding said.

“No one likes to see fees go up,” he said. “But this increase is consistent with what other such programs are charging, and it will allow us to be able to continue to offer this program moving forward.”

Early Education Consultant Courtney Hayden said the class sizes for the program were also reduced from 20 to a maximum of 10 students.

The board also said goodbye to seven individuals, many of them teachers who devoted a large part of their lives to Graves County’s children. Madding said while this is a typical amount of retirees to see at the end of a school year, it is always difficult to lose that wealth of experience.

“The biggest impact with any retirement is replacing a seasoned veteran with someone that doesn’t have as much experience,” Madding said. “It is always tough to lose the wisdom and experience of a retiring school employee.”

At the meeting, each of the retirees approached the podium and reminisced on their time working for the district. At the end of the meeting, they were all gifted rocking chairs as a “small token” for their hard work, Madding said.

Pam Goatley worked for the district for 30 years. For her, retirement still has not sunk in yet because she would be off in the summer anyway.

“I have mixed feelings,” Goatley said. “When you’ve done something that long, it’s kind of hard to stop and not do it anymore.”

The reason for her retirement was to take care of relatives. Graves County is her home and her family is here, so the prospect of traveling is not yet a consideration, especially in the midst a pandemic.

She gave praise to Graves County Schools for always having what is best for the children in mind, and was grateful to be a part of that.

“I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to work in the Graves County School system,” she said.