The Cherokee County School Board meeting could attract a crowd tonight, after email blasts from local tea party leaders and public education advocates urged members to turn out for the meeting.
The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the School Board Auditorium in the Historic Canton High School on Academy Street in Canton.
On the agenda are six technical changes to board policy, one that mentions Common Core Standards, recommended by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo.
That change has come under scrutiny from he Northwest Georgia 9-12 Project, a group that describes itself on its website as being “like a tea party.”
The change was recommended to update policies to “reflect the state’s and CCSD’s transition from Georgia Performance Standards to Common Core GPS,” said school district spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby.
An email sent by Jack Staver of the 9-12 Project — which he said was sent to about 800 people in the group — called on members and concerned citizens to attend the meeting and speak publicly, and write or call school board members to ask for a public hearing and tabling of further implementation of Common Core.
“Why is our county-wide elected School Board Chair, Janet Read, and the superintendent so opposed to hearing the groundswell of public concerns over the implementation of Common Core?” the email from the 9-12 Project asked. “Why then has (Petruzielo) proposed that the board approve a policy change that further solidifies the implementation of Common Core? Why has the superintendent and his ‘agenda preparation group’ buried this policy change request under a mountain of other items to be discussed by the board in a 193-page agenda?”
Another email sent by the nonprofit organization EmpowerED Georgia Action asked members to show up in support of the superintendent and Board Chair Janet Read. EmpowerED describes itself on its website as a “grassroots” organization, “fighting against destructive policies that seek to undermine our schools and communities.”
“It is imperative that teachers and the community attend the meeting to ensure a balanced discussion. Cherokee County has a strong record of focusing its limited resources on classroom instruction. Professional development preparing local educators for the Common Core has been outstanding,” the EmpowerED message read. “We support the efforts that Superintendent Dr. Petruzielo and (Board Chair Janet) Read are making to ensure the county is ready to meet and exceed the expectations.”
The Common Core policy change that Petruzielo recommended starts on page 53 of the Combined School Board Agenda for tonight, a 194-page document.
The Combined School Board Agenda can be found on the CCSD website and is posted a week in advance and sent to the media at that time.
“This policy change is in the appropriate section of the agenda,” Jacoby said. “Our agendas are large because the school board has so many issues to consider.”
Jacoby said there are a number of issues and events at the school board meeting.
“We have 80 outstanding students to recognize Thursday night,” Jacoby said. “(The meeting) includes contracts, personnel items, policies themselves, that is why the agenda has so many pages.”
Staver, however, said the placement in the agenda was intentional.
“It’s kind of buried in the back so nobody sees it; that’s by design,” Staver said. “This is what they do if there’s something that’s really important and would really would catch somebody’s eye. How many people have time to sit down every single time and read a 193-page item?”
EmpowerED board member and Cherokee County chapter leader Michele Dodge said “Dr. Petruzielo and Janet Read are simply making sure we’re ready.”
“The Common Core standards have been adopted by our state Legislature and they are the current standards that we are to teach, so Cherokee County is simply preparing our teachers and our students for the current requirements,” Dodge said. “If they have an issue, or anybody has an issue, no matter what side of core standards they’re on, then they need to contact their state legislatures.”
Dodge said in the last couple of weeks, teachers have been spending their own time preparing for the standards and making sure they’re ready.
“I think it’s amazing that you have people that will prepare on their own time and I think there are other pressing issues, the core standards is not something that the schools board or county can change,” Dodge said. “This was adopted at the state level.”
Staver said he’s lived in Cherokee County for more than 20 years and he wants more honesty from officials and more local control for taxpayers.
“The goal is to show that people really are concerned, because everybody sits back and talks a lot but if you really are concerned you’re going to go do something,” Staver said.
The CCSD will also further discuss the district’s 2010-11 final audit report at tonight’s meeting, as requested by Board member Kelly Marlow.
The state closed the district’s audit in January but Marlow asked that the board revisit the topic. Since fiscal year 1995-96, there were no findings, which Jacoby said means that neither the independent auditor nor the State Department of Education Division of Financial Review found any problems with the CCSD accounting practices used by the district.
During the May 16 CCSD meeting, the board selected Williamson and Company, CPAs to conduct the 2011-12 and 2012-13 fiscal year independent financial audits. Marlow opposed the board’s decision, but the vote passed 6-1.
Other items on the CCSD meeting agenda include:
• The board will consider revision to the policy on awarding credit and grades;
• The board will vote on revisions to policy regarding board officers and board-school superintendent relations;
• The board will consider approval of the April 2013 financial report and sales tax update, recommended by Petruzielo;
• The board will consider approving school nutrition and safety bids, recommended by Petruzielo;
• The board will consider a recommendation from Petruzielo to approve the Local Plan for Improvement of Vocational, Technical and Agricultural Education;
• The board will consider approval of revised partnership agreements and new partnership agreements with universities, recommended by Petruzielo;
• Recognize student achievements;
• The board will consider Petruzielo’s recommendation to approve an update on capital outlay projects;
• The superintendent will recommend tabling the FY 2013-14 budget and approval of spending resolution;
• The board will select a Grounds Services vendor to execute an acceptable contract with;
• The board will consider Petruzielo’s recommendation to approve the 2013-14 school year student discipline code; and
• The board and superintendent will go into executive session to discuss a student discipline matter.