Board tackles lay coaches, evaluation

By Greg Gelpi

Mum's the word, but the Clayton County Board of Education met in executive session to discuss the evaluation of Superintendent Barbara Pulliam.

Board members agreed to take home and complete Georgia School Boards Association evaluations of the superintendent at an October board retreat. Board members decided at the time to return the evaluations to Monday's meeting.

The state mandates annual evaluations of school superintendents. By law, the evaluations are confidential.

As of press time, board members remained in executive session discussing the evaluation.

In other business, the Clayton County school system is suspending its Lay Coach Program, since it has become "cumbersome, time-consuming and is not cost-effective," according to Bob Brannon, the system's athletic director.

In an effort to increase coaches in the school system and make the system more competitive, the school board introduced the program in 2001.

Since its inception, 105 people have applied to undergo training through the Georgia High School Association, and 27 have completed the program.

Brannon spoke to the board Monday, announcing the move away from the program. The 20 lay coaches on staff in Clayton County, though, can remain on staff, as well as anyone currently going through the training to become a lay coach.

Board member Barbara Wells expressed concern that ending the program and "grandfathering" in current lay coaches may be "inequitable" to schools that don't have lay coaches.

Schools can still use volunteer coaches, Brannon said.

"It's complicated to begin to explain the difference between a lay coach and a volunteer coach," he said.

A volunteer coach is a school employee who coaches a team without the pay, school board attorney Gary Sams said. A lay coach, though, is not a school employee.

The Georgia High School Association allows non-school personnel to serve as assistant coaches, but they cannot serve as head coaches.

The school board also tabled a policy revision that would allow schools to have 15 minutes of "unstructured" break time. The break time, similar to recess, must support academic instruction.

"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 insure 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 board plans to take action on the policy proposal at its next regular business meeting in December.

The school board also approved the appointments of David Slasinski as interim principal of Forest Park Middle School, Lonnie White as assistant principal of Kendrick Middle School and Michael Powell as coordinator of secondary social studies.