Clayton BOE to vote on 2011 budget

By Curt Yeomans


After months of talk about how Clayton County Public Schools might cut expenditures in its fiscal year 2011 budget, it will all come down to a vote by the county's school board on Monday, when board members are scheduled to tentatively adopt the new budget.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m., and will be held at the Clayton County Public Schools Central Administration Complex, at 1058 Fifth Ave., in Jonesboro.

In April, the school board approved a budget-reduction plan, designed to cut expenses in the district by $39.82 million in the fiscal year 2011 budget.

The actions that would be taken to cut expenses include: Shortening the school year by five days; cutting the number of work days for employees; reducing Superintendent Edmond Heatley's cabinet by three positions; eliminating elementary school summer school, and middle school summer Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) remediation; and reducing the salaries of school board members by 4.25 percent.

The plan also calls for eliminating 10 academic coordinator positions, 166 school-based instructional coaches positions, 30 school improvement specialist positions, 25 media paraprofessional positions, and nine media high school specialist positions, as well as replacing the system's 37 registered nurses with 63 -- less costly -- health-care professionals.

The district is also planning to eliminate home-to-school transportation for school-choice institutions, such as the Unidos Dual Language Charter School, the Elite Scholars Academy Charter School, the Fine Arts Magnet High School, the Open Campus High School, and the Alternative School.

In addition to a vote on the budget, school board members will also hear from Chief Executive Officer James Wilson, of the consulting firm Education Planners, LLC, on the results of an investigation into eraser marks on the CRCTs.

The school district was required, by state education officials, to conduct the investigation after the Governor's Office of Student Achievement placed two Clayton County schools -- Lewis Academy of Excellence and North Clayton Middle School -- on its "Severe Concern" list earlier this year. That list consists of schools with high numbers of eraser marks, where wrong answers were changed to right answers on tests.

The school board will also hear reports on how students are doing on state standardized tests; the district's plans for improving career and technical education; job descriptions for district employees; planned revisions to school board policies dealing with school district organization, school board operations, and general administration.