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BOE discusses fuel costs, displaced students

By Johnny Jackson

The Clayton County Board of Education worked late into the night Monday covering an array of issues including fuel costs and the flooding of the school system with displaced students.

Superintendent Barbara Pulliam and the board recognized several Clayton County student achievers and student athletes for their academic achievements.

"It's astounding what they've done and what they've accomplished," said Bob Brannon, district athletic director and Clayton County Athletic Board member.

The board presented the Academy of Finance students in Clayton County with a check for $9,000 to continued work in the field of finance for Clayton County students. Schools involved with the academy are Forest Park, Mt. Zion, and North Clayton high schools.

Pulliam told about the success of her first "Coffee Chat" and highlighted issues concerning those who attended and asked questions: SAT scores and dress guidelines.

She then, addressed the county's hurricane relief efforts, stating that the county's attention to new student enrolling as a result of Hurricane Katrina in the gulf.

Reportedly 743 students have enrolled into Clayton County Public Schools as of Monday. More than 122 new students have enrolled since Sept. 9.

At issue for the county is also fuel costs for vehicles, namely school buses. Pulliam asked that the district's transportation department conserve fuel and that schools curtail elective field trips through the end of September.

Jackie Hubbert, assistant superintendent for Human Resources, reported that the district has only 30 teacher vacancies remaining, 99.1 percent filled vacancies, she said. Additionally, there are 10 special education para-professional vacancies and 35 bus driver vacancies. The latter vacancies are notable in that occasionally, buses arrive at to bus stops and schools throughout the county from the shortage of drivers.

Board member Lois Baines-Hunter expressed concern from her district constituents during the purchasing report review. She reiterated concern from a parent who supposedly noticed that Sequoyah Middle School was not fully equipped for the first day of school. County representatives for the school said that materials and books are ordered and will reach the school soon.

Baines-Hunter objected to faulty communication among administrators, board members and parents, saying she was unaware of certain issues concerning incomplete facilities. Baines-Hunter said she was upset that she had to hear this news from parents.

"I sit on the board for the pleasure of Clayton County Students," Baines-Hunter said.

"Parents notice what you're doing," she said, referring to school administrators and mentioning hear-say about an Hispanic student without an English For Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) book the first four weeks of school.

Not to be undone, Baines-Hunter commended Ronnie Watts, the coordinating supervisor for facilities construction in Clayton County, for an organized facilities meeting earlier.

Watts mentioned on the agenda that work started on the county's Middle School No. 6, in which 68 classrooms will be built to represent 10 percent of the county's need to stifle overcrowding.

The two charter schools petitions - Foresight Career Academy and MTC Academy Charter School, Inc. - were denied for not meeting nearly a dozen charter school petition requirements.