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Clayton BOE to review strategic plan

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

On Monday, the Clayton County Board of Education will review a key component to the school system regaining full Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation.

After months of internal meetings -- and meetings with the public -- school system officials have compiled a proposed strategic plan for the school system that will, among other things, outline performance objectives and measures for the district, and lay out steps for improving student achievement, according to Luvenia Jackson, the special assistant to School System Superintendent Edmond Heatley.

When the school system regained its accreditation on a probationary basis last May, one of the things SACS officials mandated the system do to regain its full approval was to revise the system's strategic plan to redirect focus toward student achievement.

"It is a draft, but it's been vetted very carefully by the department heads," Jackson said. "It is an ongoing process, though, because it's data driven. So, as we get new information, we will have to plug it into the plan."

The Board of Education's work session -- during which the plan will be presented -- will be held on Monday, at 6 p.m., at the Clayton County Public Schools Central Administration Complex, which is located at 1058 Fifth Ave., in Jonesboro.

School Board Chairperson Alieka Anderson said all of the items to be discussed at the work session will be voted on during the school board's April 13 business meeting.

Jackson said the strategic plan will also call on district officials to address staff training. "One of the action steps will be building a professional framework for the training of staff, making sure we design workshops to support that," she said.

Jackson said all school-level improvement plans will be adjusted to align with the strategic plan -- if the plan is approved by the school board next month. She added that the strategic plan will be placed on the school system's web site following the work session.

The presentation of the proposed strategic plan, and its scheduled approval, come ahead of a planned two-day site visit by a SACS review team, which would be in the district April 15 and 16 to monitor the school system's progress.

Also during Monday's meeting, Heatley is scheduled to present the school district's proposed fiscal year 2011 budget.

Anderson said school board members are not expected to receive copies of the proposed budget until the work session on Monday. In February, Heatley introduced a proposed cost-cutting plan, which stated school system expenditures for fiscal year 2011 were expected to be $401.49 million, while revenues were projected to total $346.3 million.

At the time, the school system was projected to begin the next fiscal year with a surplus of $14.57 million held over from fiscal 2010, and end fiscal 2011 with a deficit of $40.88 million, according to the superintendent's cost-cutting proposal.

Some of the ways Heatley has proposed to cut costs include eliminating three cabinet positions, doing away with benefits for part-time employees -- such as school bus drivers -- and eliminating positions for media and kindergarten paraprofessionals.

Heatley could not be reached, Friday evening, for comment on his proposed budget.

Another item up for discussion at Monday's meeting is a resolution to begin preparing for the phasing out of the existing Riverdale Elementary School. Cephus Jackson, the school system's chief operations officer, said the resolution is part of long-standing plans to build a new facility for the school on property owned by the district behind Southern Regional Medical Center.

Money collected through Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) III and IV will be used to build the school's new facility, Jackson said, but additional funding will come from the state in the form of capital outlay funds.

"We have to pass this resolution in order to get those capital outlay funds from the state," Jackson said.