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Clayton BOE to hold retreat on Saturday

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Education will hold a retreat today to review the role of board members, the contents of the recent Southern Association of Colleges and Schools report, and performance-evaluation dates for the board and School System Superintendent Edmond Heatley, the school system announced on Friday.

The retreat will begin at 8:30 a.m., at the S. Truett Cathy Professional Learning Center, which is located at 1087 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro, with an agenda review by School Board Chairperson Alieka Anderson.

From 8:45 a.m., until noon, Heatley and board member Michael King will lead the group in a session called, "Understanding Our Roles as Board Members." The board will discuss ethics, forming a team, effective communications, conducting effective board meetings, and the timeliness of board items.

From noon, to 1 p.m., there will be a working lunch, in which members Jessie Goree and Trinia Garrett will lead a discussion on professional development. From 1 p.m., to 2 p.m., Heatley and board member Mary Baker will lead a discussion on SACS' report from its April visit to the school system. According to the agenda, outside influences, constituents, and the overall meaning of the report will be discussed.

From 2 p.m., to 3 p.m., board members will discuss how to evaluate themselves, as well as Heatley, go over the schedule for future retreat dates, and evaluate the effectiveness of the retreat.

Then, on Monday, the school board will meet in a called session, which will be immediately followed by the board's June work session. The meetings will begin at 5 p.m., at the Clayton County Public Schools Central Administration Complex, which is located at 1058 Fifth Ave., in Jonesboro.

The major topic of the day will be the school system's fiscal year 2011 budget.

With only a few days to spare before a state-mandated budget deadline, the board will take its second, and final, vote on approving a $509 million 2011 spending plan.

The budget, which was tentatively adopted on May 24, includes cutting the school year by five days, reducing the work year for employees, eliminating elementary school summer school, and middle school summer Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) remediation, and cutting board members' salaries by 4.25 percent.

It will also eliminate home-to-school transportation for school-choice institutions, including the Unidos Dual Language Charter School, the Elite Scholars Academy Charter School, the county's Fine Arts Magnet High School, the Open Campus High School, and the Alternative School.

School system officials have projected the district could end fiscal year 2011 with a deficit that falls somewhere between $2.35 million, and $13.35 million, depending on how money is collected from local property taxes.

"If there are any changes to the budget, we have not been made aware of them yet," Anderson said. "We're still in a deficit situation at this point."

Once the board moves into its work session, Anderson said, members will be asked to approve a "Construction Consulting Agreement," which would allow the school system to bring in a consultant for six months, to help oversee the 18 construction projects that are going on within the school system. She said an executive summary for the agreement shows the consultant would be paid $26,100 per month, with the money coming from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) IV funds.

The school board chairperson said the executive summary does not show who the agreement will be with, and does not give any other indication about who would serve as the construction consultant.

Other items on the agenda, Anderson said, include second reads on proposed revisions to the school board's policies dealing with school district organization, school board operations, and general administration. She said the board will also do first reads on proposed revisions to board policies dealing with instructional programs, fiscal management, and business management.