School board to finalize priority list this week
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
December 02, 2012 12:23 AM | 2278 views | 2 2 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The Cherokee County Board of Education will make final decisions on its legislative priorities at its Thursday work session and regular meeting.

However, the board will not have an opportunity to formally make its recommendations to the legislative delegation as the legislators scheduled their session meetings with Cherokee County elected officials and authority directors earlier that day.

Both Board Chairman Mike Chapman and Vice Chairwoman Janet Read said they will not be able to attend the school board’s allotted time earlier that afternoon to meet with the delegation because they will both be in Atlanta for a large school systems meeting.

Additionally, legislators will conduct a public town hall from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Cherokee County Administration Building, which also conflicts with the Canton City Council meeting at 6 p.m.

The school board’s work session will begin at 6 p.m. followed by its regular meeting at 7 p.m. at the historic Canton High School/School Board Auditorium, where the board will also hear a status report on Georgia’s Quality Basic Education, the funding formula for the state’s K-12 education and hear an impact report on the recent state health benefit plan policy changes.

According to the district’s proposed 2013 Legislative Program, QBE was fully funded to all local school districts for 15 years of its installment.

Since 2002, $147.5 million of statutorily-required funds have been withheld from CCSD alone due to “austerity cuts” by the governor and state legislature, school officials say.

The four-point document to be considered by the board also asks local legislators to develop a statewide strategy for “cost containment” of the state health benefit plan, “rather than continu(e) to simply pass skyrocketing annual premium increases in this regard along to school boards, teachers and other state employees.”

Additional costs include $204 more per employee next year for the health plan, $396 more per couple and $1,167 more per family insured through the state plan. Insurance costs for non-certified employees are also expected to increase from $7.5 million this year to $12.7 million in fiscal year 2014-15, according to the document.

Another priority outlined in the document is to address the need to earmark state funding for incentive pay for teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives after federal Race to the Top funds end in September 2014.

Finally, in a requested change by board member Michael Geist discussed at the Nov. 1 meeting, the board requests the delegation institute a more equitable determination for high school graduation rates to factor in special education diplomas as well as some students taking more than four years to graduate.

School district spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said some of the information included in the newest draft is based on comments made by school board members at last month’s meeting.

“The overwhelming feedback we got (from district staff and teachers) was that they really appreciated the priorities outlined in the draft,” Jacoby said.

At the Nov. 1 meeting, most school board members seemed in agreement with the initial priorities outlined, with both Read and Geist expressing ideas about how to get the delegation on board with changing the way the state counts high school graduates.

Read suggested inviting the local delegation to Polaris Evening Program “to see the real-life examples” of students who require extra time to graduate.

“I think that would be a great way for them to see the challenges but yet the opportunities that are out there for kids who graduate in more than four years but they are considered graduates,” Read said.

In other business, the board will consider the superintendent’s recommendation for school grade configurations. The new E. T. Booth Middle School is recommended to open with a sixth through eighth grade configuration; Bascomb, Boston and Oak Grove elementaries are recommended to expand from kindergarten through fourth grade to add a fifth-grade class. Clark Creek and Ball Ground elementaries are recommended to keep their current grade configurations of kindergarten through fifth grade and kindergarten through sixth grade, respectively.
Comments
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Addie Price
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December 03, 2012
Instead of trying to make changes to the way the data is processed so that the county looks better why doesn't the school systems focus on meeting the needs of the students and make it possible for them to graduate in 4 years. These students need more time because the system doesn't work for them, the students aren't the problem. The problem is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Develop more opportunities and chances for children with different learning styles so they can get an easier grasp on the concepts.
Property Tax Payer
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December 05, 2012
Because it's EASIER to manipulate the data than it is to do your job properly, Addie.

And this will free up the Board to pursue their favorite pastime: Whine about lack of funding.
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