My dad used to say the older he got, the faster the years went by. As a young whippersnapper, I thought that was just another one of those ‘old people’s’ expressions. After all, he was in his 60’s. Now, on many fronts ‘“ especially the 60’s bit ‘“ I understand what he was saying is absolutely true. Fast or slow or just right, I hope the year past was exceedingly good to you and yours. My hope is the coming year will be even better.Another lesson life teaches us is there is awesome value in having family. Certainly our own flesh and blood families are most precious to us, but other places can evoke that same sense of pride, unity and love. I believe our school system, what we call our Trojan Family, exemplifies that family feeling. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes sad events to remind us of this fact. I refer specifically to the tragic and ill-timed death of one of our favorite people, Angie Tinker. The outpouring of care and concern for her and the entire Tinker family underscored the meaning of something we often take for granted. On the school board front, a few items are noteworthy. Our school system has been recognized and honored by the state for working with students with learning disabilities. Dr. Terry Mermann, assistant superintendent for student services, received two awards from the state related to teaching and learning in the least restrictive environment. At this time of year, everything seems to be pointing towards needs down the road. Therefore, discussions about funding, training, calendars, legislative issues and the like are a part of every meeting and work session. Some may be interested to know the board approved installation of a new phone system for the high school. Hopefully, that’ll help with communication. With the new year now in full swing, we see one very significant issue we must confront and solve: State cutbacks. The economy has hit Georgia very hard. We understand there may be a total of 12% in lost revenue for education. The state has talked about furloughs for teachers and even additional austerity cuts or ‘formula adjustments.’ Several of Gov. Sonny Per-due’s proposed budget cuts include such controversial items as school nurses, RESA funding and the Homestead Tax Grant. With the legislative session revving up for 2009, education and the economy have got to be the top priorities.Speaking of state news, the governor has proposed a couple of new items for encouraging educators. The first is an incentive for teachers to become Master Teachers and demonstrate great prowess in the classroom as measured by test scores. The benefit could result in a 10-15% merit pay or bonus. Likewise, principals in high performing and improving schools could also see a bonus of $10,000 or more. There was no indication of the source of funds.A quick review of our projects is in order. The high school cafeteria is completely redone and looking great. Our gym is partially redone. Major portions of that renovation will take place after the season ends. We’ve received some ideas from our architects on how the expansion of the concession area, locker rooms and a classroom will enhance the looks, safety and enjoyment of the gym. The board offices are moving quickly to the finish line. We’re hoping by February some time, we’ll be able to hold meetings over there. The stadium is looking awesome. The new track will quickly follow installation of the turf. Ground has been broken for the auditorium and steel structures are about to be put in place. Several other projects are also in the planning stages. We must really work on completing what we have going on right now to be sure we can afford to do our best with the other plans.One of the neat, new things at the stadium will be a video scoreboard. There’s space for advertising in two major ways. The first would be of a permanent nature on huge display panels. The other is through DVDs, throughout the season at the games. If you have an interest in this, please know we’d love to talk to you about it.The second half of Dr. Truby’s column will be published in next week’s edition.