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More than 600 teachers hired for school year

By Trina Trice

While some students are enjoying their last full month of summer vacation, school administrators are busying themselves to get buildings and staff ready for August 11, the first day of the 2003-2004 school year.

Teachers

The school system's Staff Development Department is preparing to meet about 625 new teachers for the New Teacher Orientation July 28.

The week-long event begins at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center.

The new teachers will attend information sessions on evaluations and ethics, said Bobbie Ford, coordinator of Staff Development for Clayton County Schools.

Other activities include seminars on technology, classroom management, and diversity issues.

Construction/Maintenance

All school renovations and constructions are on schedule, said John Ramage, assistant superintendent of Facilities and Maintenance.

The school system is nearly $14 million dollars behind on collecting funds from the 1999 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, which is funding most of the maintenance and construction work.

The school system collects, on average, $3.9 million a month.

Ramage blames the recession for the slow SPLOST collection.

Still, renovations to Lee Street Elementary School, Morrow middle and high schools, Fountain Elementary School, and North Clayton High School are definitely on schedule.

"We don't see any project that will keep us from opening schools on time," Ramage said.

Renovations and modifications to Oliver Elementary School and Hendrix Drive Elementary began during the school year.

Both schools are getting new lighting fixtures, ceilings, floors, heating and air conditioning equipment, fire alarms, intercom systems, and landscaping.

Hendrix Drive Elementary School is also getting three additional classrooms for art, music, and general purpose use.

School administrators are moving into the county's newest schools ? Martin Luther King Jr. and James Jackson elementary schools.

Construction has already begun on three new schools ? two elementary schools and one middle school ? that are scheduled to open in the fall of 2004.

Clayton County school system currently has eight high schools, 12 middle schools, and 31 elementary schools.

BOARD OF EDUCATION

The school board recently completed a two-day retreat hoping that it would help them take the necessary steps for getting off probation set by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, an accrediting organization.

SACS issued a list of recommendations to the school system. The list is a guideline that will help the school system get off probation.

The recommendations included that the school board: review and revise all policies and procedures, ensure that all actions and decisions of all board members are in keeping with approved policies, review and revise the mission and vision statement, require that all board members are properly oriented and trained, appoint someone to monitor the actions and decisions of the board to ensure it is in keeping with policies and procedures, conduct a national superintendent search, and ensure that the superintendent is allowed to conduct school business without interference from board members.

At the retreat, board members got intensive lessons on proper parliamentary procedures and board powers and duties from the staff at the Georgia School Boards Association.

The board, however, has yet to decide how it will proceed with its superintendent search. A July 21 meeting is when the board is set to discuss the search in depth with a GSBA facilitator.