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Clayton BOE takes look at itself Monday

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

After spending two hours behind closed doors earlier this week, doing an evaluation of Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley's first year as the district's leader, members of the county's school board are scheduled to turn their attention to themselves.

The agenda for the school board's business meeting, which is scheduled to be held on Monday, beginning at 6:05 p.m., includes a school board self-evaluation discussion, approximately midway through the session. The meeting will be held at the Clayton County Public Schools Central Administration Complex, which is located at 1058 Fifth Ave., in Jonesboro.

It will follow a called meeting, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., where a final vote will be taken on keeping the school system's millage rate at 20 mills.

School Board Chairperson Alieka Anderson said board members have already filled out paperwork, expressing their thoughts on the board's performance. This will be a discussion of what was said in that paperwork, the board's chairperson said.

"We're going to have an open discussion about how we feel we're doing as a board," Anderson said. "We're going to discuss what each of us thinks our strengths and weaknesses are, and where we see opportunities to improve ourselves as a board."

How the school board functions has been at the heart of a more than two-year accreditation crisis in the district. Officials from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools began making inquiries about the behavior of board members in November 2007. In August 2008, SACS revoked the school system's accreditation over what it deemed a "dysfunctional" board.

After a new school board was put into place, the accreditation was restored last year, albeit on a two-year, probationary basis.

One of the mandates that must be met for the school system to regain full accreditation is the establishment of a fully functioning board that understands its roles and responsibilities.

While the school board is scheduled to discuss itself, Anderson said the board has nearly completed its evaluation of Heatley. The superintendent reached his one-year mark as Clayton's school chief on July 1.

After the school board's two-hour executive session, to conduct the evaluation last Monday, July 26, board attorney Clem Doyle compiled evaluation forms that board members filled out on the superintendent, the school board chairperson said. "All we have left to do is meet with him to discuss his evaluation," Anderson said.

Because Heatley is an employee, the school board is treating his evaluation as a personnel matter, and will not discuss his review in public, Anderson said. "The board officers will meet with him privately, and the other board members may want to have further discussion with him, in executive session," she said.

Anderson did not say when the final stage of Heatley's evaluation might be completed.

The school board will also vote on approving bids to build auxiliary gymnasiums at Jonesboro and North Clayton high schools. The auxiliary gymnasiums, for every high school in the county, were promised by the district, as part of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) IV, which Clayton voters approved in September 2009.