The amendment, which will be on the November general election ballot for approval, will give the state Legislature the right to establish charter schools — autonomous public schools that provide alternative modes of learning — if approved by voters.
Each of the seven board members voiced approval of charter schools Monday night, but believe the amendment takes away local control over the founding and running of a charter school.
Superintendent Scott Cowart proposed drafting a resolution speaking out in favor or against the amendment and was met with unanimous approval to send out drafts via email this week before Thursday’s meeting, when the board plans to formally publish the resolution.
“I am against it, and I have no problem saying it,” board member Denise Askin-Pate said. “I don’t think taxpayers will have any representation in it. They say that it’s all part of the same pie, but I think this is going to make the pie and our piece from the pie smaller.”
Board member Chris Gammon echoed Pate’s concerns, saying he questioned where the funding for the charter schools was coming from and if the schools would be “put in the right places.”
“It’s a matter of who decides where or if charter schools should go in an area,” Gammon said. “And I don’t think this amendment is a good idea.”
Gammon stressed that he isn’t against charter schools, but rather the lack of local control.
Board member Sandra Morris said she would like for the superintendent to draft a resolution against the amendment, and that she’d like for him to do it soon.
“If we wait around to put it to the public in the October meeting, that November election will be right around the corner, and it might be too late,” she said.
The board on Monday received technology updates from assistant superintendents Stan Davis and Dr. Christie Johnson, who spoke on the implementation of a bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) policy and Google Accounts for all students. Johnson said a committee chosen to draft a BYOT policy has finished its task, and it will be available for public inquiry and review before the October board meeting, when it will be voted on.
Included in the policy are a few simple, concrete rules, including that no technology may be used without the expressed permission of the instructor, and that all websites accessed must be done on the school’s Wi-Fi network. Davis said he and other members from the central office are planning a trip to Whitewater High School in Fayette County to observe how the school’s BYOT policy works.
Further down the road, Johnson said, the system will require that all students create a Google Account when they start school, the main purpose of which is to utilize the Google Docs desktop application, a web-based platform that will allow students to store and access documents, presentations, spreadsheets and other media from school or home.
Davis said the main purpose for the implementation of this program is to eliminate the need for flash drives, which can be expensive and are easily lost.
“This is a great program that I think will be very beneficial for us in the future,” said board Chairman Dr. Jon Anderson. “My family uses it everyday, so I’m glad to see it adopted here.”
Coordinator of maintenance for the system, Mike Beers, updated the board Monday on the several construction projects, and asked for some SPLOST funding at Central Elementary to be reallocated to install a new gymnasium floor. The rubber flooring which covered the gym floor has begun delaminating, Beers said, and the system’s insurer has recommended a new, wooden floor.
To prevent the buildup of moisture under the floor, which caused the initial problem, the Georgia School Board Association recommended a ventilation system to be installed underneath the floor to monitor moisture and move air through the floor.
To replace the floor, the system will have to pay $10,000 deductible, which the GSBA requested the board pay, as well as the cost for the ventilation system, which will cost $12,400, bringing the total cost to $22,400. Beers asked for the item to be placed as a business item on Thursday’s agenda, at which time the board will discuss and possibly vote on the matter.
Also during Monday’s work session:
• Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources David Goldberg informed the board about plans to relocate the teacher of the year celebration for next month’s board meeting. The awarding usually occurs in the system’s central office, but Goldberg said overcrowding has become a problem. To alleviate that, the board will hold its October meeting at Midway Church, to allow for a maximum number of students, family and faculty to attend.
• Chief Financial Officer Greg Denney presented the August financial report to the board, and said everything is “going well.” He informed the board of a couple of budget adjustments to be made, including a decreased tax collection than what was originally projected by the tax commissioner of $60,000. Denney also informed the board that money had to go toward hiring a new ESOL teacher for two elementary schools and a part-time special education teacher for Roopville Elementary.
• Denney told the board that SPLOST receipts were down for the month of August, but the receipts for 2012 are still significantly higher than those of 2011. SPLOST receipts for August totaled $1,017,000, Denney said, which is a five percent decrease.
• Johnson reported the system’s enrollment numbers for the first month of school, saying 13,869 K-12 students attended classes, a number that is 161 students less than last year’s first month enrollment.
Johnson said the system is “on point” for its projected enrollment used in the budget process.
• Annual report nights for each of the clusters were discussed, and concrete times were given to the board. The Bowdon Cluster will meet at Bowdon High on Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.; the Central Cluster at Central High on Oct. 1 at 6 p.m.; the Villa Rica Cluster at Bay Springs Middle on Oct. 1 at 6:30 p.m.; and the Temple Cluster at Temple Middle on Oct. 2 at 6:30 p.m.