By Maria José Subiria
During the Clayton County Board of Education's work session Monday night, new school superintendent, Edmond Heatley, offered a solution for how the school district could meet the governor's recent request that school systems statewide furlough teachers for three days, in the face of declining state revenues.
"The days must be taken by Dec. 31, 2009," Heatley said. He then recommended that all of Clayton County's public school teachers be off from their duties without pay, on Aug. 6, which is a planning day; on Oct. 16, which is a regional staffing day; for half a day on Nov. 20, which is an early release day for students; and for half a day on Dec. 18, another early release day for students.
"I know that not all of the [school] districts in Georgia are doing that," he said. "DeKalb [County] is going to their separate retirement fund, to draw money out of there. "We don't have that luxury," he said. "I think that's the most ... educationally responsible decision we could make."
Board members decided to add Heatley's recommendation to the agenda for their next meeting, which will be held on Monday, Aug. 3, at the Clayton County Public Schools Administrative Complex, 1058 Fifth Avenue, in Jonesboro. It is expected that they will vote on the matter then.
Heatley said his recommendation is in response to Gov. Sonny Perdue's announcement on July 21 that Georgia public schools must reduce their budgets by 3 percent, in addition to cuts that have already been imposed by the state. Perdue also said he wanted Georgia's more than 128,000 school teachers to go on three-day furloughs to save money.
In other business at the meeting, the school board was asked to vote on proposals to allow the operation of two new charter schools -- Alpha Academy of Science, Art and Technology, and Chad Charter High School for Non Profit Management and Human Services -- and to renew approval for a third, Lewis Academy of Excellence.
Alieka Anderson, the board's chairperson, said the board denied approval for the two new charter schools, on Heatley's recommendation, by a 9-0 vote, but approved Lewis Academy for another year, by an identical, 9-0 vote.