TIFTON -- Vice President Erick Willis was elected Tuesday to serve as Tift County School Board president for the remainder of this year.

Willis replaces Richard Golden, who stepped down last month following his arrest on charges of aggravated assault and criminal damage to property. The board members elect a president each year from among themselves.

Scott Shiver will replace Willis as vice president.

During its May meeting, the board also heard a report from Tift County High School Principal Mike Duck on the upcoming graduation. The ceremonies will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 22, at Brodie Field.

Duck said about 80 seniors are waiting for the results of recently taken high school graduation tests and do not know whether they will be able to march in the exercises. About half of those students also have other academic problems such as insufficient credits, he said.

"If they attend remediation, the success rate more than doubles," said Duck. "It's very difficult to reach them. We provide transportation and food and even go into the community to do the remediation if they so desire. We encourage them and talk to them, and they'll say 'Yes sir, I know it's important,' and then when it comes time for remediation they can't be found.

"A lot of these students are struggling for food, shelter and clothing, not just to graduate, and we know that passing the high school graduation test is not the only thing on their minds."

In other action, the board:

Heard a report on Special Local Option Sales Tax receipts from Superintendent Harold Abbott. The school system received $583,901 in SPLOST funds in April, down from the $663,868 received in March but still up from April 2003, when the system received $522,300.

Recognized Maj. Robert Duffell and S.M. Sgt. Darrell F. Purvis of Tift County High School for winning the 2003-2004 Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Outstanding Instructor Award. The ROTC at TCHS won its 24th state championship this year, and the seniors also traveled to New York City for a week. Purvis said the ROTC also took a group of 30 students to Washington, D.C., earlier in the year.

Recognized curriculum coordinator Laura Pope for earning her doctorate.

Approved requests for trips for the TCHS baseball team, TCHS varsity girls basketball team, cross country runners and the Eighth Street Middle School Y Club.

Gave permission for the TCHS Blue Devil Baseball Boosters to have a baseball camp for children ages 7-14.

Agreed to let the Tift County 4-H and the Georgia Forestry Commission use school buses for events.

Agreed to donate a surplus school bus to the Tifton Police Department to be made into a mobile command center, if a bus is available.

Declared outdated equipment, including a 1990 Chevrolet Caprice, surplus.

Named Golden as a delegate to attend the GBSA Summer Conference and Delegate Assembly June 18 in Savannah.

To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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