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State school chief to address Clayton BOE

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Education will be joined by a big name in Georgia education this weekend at its training retreat in Peachtree City.

State Superintendent Kathy Cox will address the school board and its incoming members on Friday as part of the kick-off for the gathering, said Georgia Department of Education spokesman Dana Tofig. He added Cox will thank the board members, and board members-elect, for their service and congratulate them for agreeing to undergo training to be better public officials.

"She speaks to [local] school boards from time-to-time, but she is rarely asked to attend their training sessions," said Tofig. "She felt because so many negative things have been said about the Clayton County school system - and the accreditation issue - she wanted them to know they have her support, and the support of the state."

The two day retreat, which will be held on Friday and Saturday, will focus on training in the areas of teamwork; professional development; acceptable board member conduct; how school boards operate, and how to deal with board business. The retreat will be held at the Dolce Hotel, 201 Aberdeen Parkway, Peachtree City.

Cox will not be the only person from the state addressing the Clayton County school board. The board will participate in training sessions led by state school board members Brad Bryant and James Bostic, who were sent to the district in February to act as a liaison between the school system and Gov. Sonny Perdue. Tofig pointed out Bryant and Bostic will act more in their roles as liaisons, rather than board members.

However, school system officials were ecstatic on Wednesday about Cox's scheduled appearance. The district invited the state school chief to the retreat so she could meet the school board members, said school system spokesman Charles White.

"We are pleased that she graciously accepted our invitation to speak to the board," said White. "It will be a positive opening for what promises to be a very intense period of training for our board."

Board Chairperson Alieka Anderson could not be reached for comment.

The Friday session of the retreat will last from 5:30-9 p.m. Clayton County Superintendent John Thompson will introduce Cox to the board members, and the state school chief will then give her remarks. Bryant and Zenda Bowie, the Georgia School Boards Association's (GSBA) director of field services will lead training sessions after Cox addresses the attendees.

The retreat will resume Saturday at 9 a.m., with a list of speakers that includes: Tony Arasi, the director of professional development for GSBA; Crandle Jones, a team building expert from the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government; Mike Ward, associate professor of education leadership and research at the University of Southern Mississippi; Julie Lewis, general counsel for Clayton County schools, and Jud Turner, former executive counsel for Perdue. The retreat will conclude on Saturday at 4 p.m.