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Committee discusses school communications

By Greg Gelpi

A lot happens in the Clayton County school system, and a committee met Tuesday to ensure the community knows about these happenings.

The Clayton County Board of Education Community Relations Committee met for what committee chairman Allen Johnson said was the first time to his knowledge.

After a rocky year of secret meetings and hurried press conferences, the committee mapped out the best way to use its resources to inform both the school system and Clayton County as a whole.

"I think we need to touch as many people as we possibly can," Board Vice Chairwoman Ericka Davis said.

Of particular concern to Davis was having a "vehicle" to reach parents. She added that some parents don't have Internet access and can't visit the system's Web site.

Part of the committee's plans to inform the public includes a series of public forums for members of the community to meet with school officials and discuss their concerns. The committee will recommend having four forums, rather than a proposal to have nine, one in each board member's district. The recommendation includes a "roundtable" format, consisting of about 10 tables, each with a school "facilitator" to meet with parents in small groups.

The proposed first public forum would be April 26, said Sam King, assistant superintendent of support services and continuous improvement. King drafted the proposals.

The committee also discussed how to use its resources, such as the system's newly revamped Cable Channel 24.

Channel 24 is now completely digital, said David Waller, the manager of the television station. Waller said he is looking into new programming. One proposal is to have a 30-minute program for Superintendent Barbara Pulliam to present an issue from the system using a talk show style format.

The school system's Web site is also being updated. The committee will recommend placing school board minutes on the Web. The address is www.clayton.k12.ga.us.

Although the system's newsletter went defunct about two years ago, the committee asked Jerry Jackson, acting coordinator of community relations, to look into costs and options for reinstituting a newsletter to inform both employees and parents.

Two specific issues that need to be communicated to the public are the rezoning of schools and the special purpose local option sales tax, the committee said.

Three new schools will open in the fall, and Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services Ronnie Blake outlined plans for informing parents about which school their children will attend.

Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Construction John Ramage briefed the committee on the importance of informing the public about the 1-cent SPLOST, which runs out in December. If the SPLOST is to be extended, it would need to be voted on by Sept. 21.