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BOE clarifies policies, discusses discipline, and reviews results of writing tests

By Diane Glidewell

dglidewell@jacksonprogress-argus.com

Prior to its well-attended and much discussed budget work session on April 19, the Board of Education held its regular April meeting on the preceding Monday, April 12 and handled several items of business. A personnel action which had been discussed in executive session was unanimously approved without discussion, and the disposal of surplus property consisting of one item from Central Office and a few items from Jackson Elementary School was also routinely approved.

The Board received the annual report from Interquest Detection Canines, an agency which has provided unannounced visits by drug detection dogs to Jackson High School, Henderson Middle School, and North Mulberry Academy for several years. The Butts County School System has been pleased with the services provided but due to budget considerations voted not the renew the contract.

The School System will work with the Butts County Sheriff's Office to continue some visits by drug detection dogs. Board member Linda Godin asked whether this could be coordinated so that no one at the schools would be aware of the visits ahead of time as had been done with Interquest. Superintendent Lynda White said efforts would be made to keep the visits of drug dogs confidential.

The Board approved placing three policy changes for 30-day review. Wording in the Family and Medical Leave policy made clear the 12-month employment and work period required to qualify for the leave. The Nonprofessional Personnel Suspension was changed to eliminate policy stated elsewhere and to clarify the Board is responsible for suspending or terminating nonprofessional employees.

The policy on Substitute Teachers was revised to make the minimum age for a substitute 21 and to otherwise define the minimum qualifications for a substitute and the required training. It also clarified that only a certified teacher can be employed as a long term (over 45 day) substitute. These three policies will be voted upon by the Board after the 30 days of review.

The Board voted not to renew the contract with the current landscaping company for Henderson Middle School and Daughtry Elementary. It is negotiating with two other providers.

Seven requests to use school facilities for community functions were approved. Costs were waived for the Butts County Child Development Center to use the Rufus Adams Auditorium for graduation and practice, with the provision it pay a school employee for monitoring the facility's use, i.e. unlocking and locking up, et cetera. Other requests were for use of the Stark Elementary cafeteria and kitchen, the North Mulberry Academy gym and playground, and the Auditorium.

There were 22 student disciplinary tribunals during March. Godin asked why there were so many. Supt. White responded that some of the tribunals were for students who were involved in the same incident.

"What bugs me are the chronic disciplinary referrals," said Godin.

"We're looking at how our positive reinforcement program is working; we're planning more supervisory presence," said White. "There are a large number of 9th graders involved. It will be discussed in depth at the administrative meeting tomorrow [with school principals.]"

Dr. Sheree Bryant reported on the results received from the Georgia 8th Grade Writing Assessment. Butts County students were in line with the state average in students classed as meeting the standards but below the state average in students who exceeded (1 percent versus 6 percent) and slightly above the state average in students below the standard. For the test, students are given a prompt and must write on topic for one hour.

Dr. Bryant had received the writing test from the Georgia High School Graduation Test but had not yet studied the results.

"We're not where we want to be, but we have made great gains," said White.