Recess policy to be amended

By Justin Boron

Clayton County elementary school students could have their recess privileges reaffirmed Monday night if the Board of Education decides to give principals the power to define the breaks.

The board is set to act on a revision of its scheduling of instruction policy at its 7 p.m. business meeting that would allow for an "unstructured break time" in student grades kindergarten through fifth grade.

The policy's potential enactment is hung on whether a recess period is "developmentally appropriate" for the learning of elementary school students, said Jack Warren, an administrative assistant for policy and legislation.

Barbara Wells, the chairman for the policy committee, said she thinks kids need time to work out some of the energy that builds up over the day.

"(Kids) do need a little wind down time," she said.

The revision officially gives the principal of each elementary school the responsibility of determining when and under what circumstances "the unstructured break" would occur.

But while Wells said she did not think there would be much inconsistency in the application of the policy, it does open the door for students at different elementary schools to receive different lengths and types of breaks.

Warren said since the policy presupposes some sort of break, he doubts that principals will get rid of breaks altogether. But it is left to their discretion, he said.

"The school principal is authorized to determine the length, frequency, timing and location of breaks at each school," according to the proposed addition to board policy. "In determining the schedule for unstructured break time for students, the principal shall consult with appropriate instructional personnel at the school and system level, as appropriate, to ensure that break time provides support for academic learning. The principal shall issue directions concerning the responsibility for supervision of students so the break time will be a safe experience for them."

The change is driven by legislation passed in the last General Assembly session which requires that all school districts explicitly state whether they will allow or prohibit recess for kindergarten through eighth grade by Jan. 1.

In other policy changes, the board is scheduled to act on the removal of a local policy that gave teachers a fair dismissal policy after tenure was abolished during Gov. Roy Barnes administration, Wells said.

"We no longer need the policy because Gov. Sonny Perdue restored tenure," she said.