Rumors don't help school system
To the editor:
In recent weeks, the Clayton County public school district has been beset with rumors that are not only incorrect, but are harmful to efforts to improve educational opportunities for our students.
An article in the Clayton News Daily incorrectly quoted me on one of the issues, and I'd like to clarify that comment as well as dispel a few of the rumors.
For the past two years in our challenging economy, the board has struggled to balance the budget, resulting in jobs lost, salaries cut, and programs adjusted. Our superintendent received a three-year contract when he came to the county in 2009. That contract was extended one year in 2010. His salary was not increased in any way.
When the board authorized a reduction in the work year for all employees, the superintendent voluntarily took a pay cut consistent with all other school system employees.
This year, we were able to save jobs for all elementary counselors and all elementary art and music teachers, as well as continue the shuttle service for our students to attend various specialty programs that we offer. We have not been forced to eliminate any program that supports our students' opportunities to learn and to excel.
Throughout the past several years, the sitting superintendents of Clayton County Public Schools have approved the contract for school resource officers (SR0s) without approval of the Board of Education. When Dr. Heatley became our superintendent, he initially continued the practice. However, when he learned that this practice was not consistent with board policy, he immediately brought the 2010-2011 contract to the board for approval.
At its July meeting, the board approved an SRO contract for the 2011-2012 school year that supports the board's focus on safety for our students. This contract reflects a cost savings over previous years, of hundreds of thousands of dollars. These actions bring the board and superintendent into compliance with board policy, and break with a previous, incorrect practice.
School system leadership and the Board of Education worked diligently to regain full and clear accreditation. Meeting nine mandates and four recommendations to eliminate problems that existed when the school system lost accreditation in 2008 was a daunting task, and yet, we accomplished it this spring.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) will conduct its usual five-year visit to the district in 2016. However, system leadership and the Board of Education understand that SACS is continuously monitoring the progress that we have made thus far. We now focus our attention on the seven standards that SACS holds for all schools and systems that are accredited.
The citizens of Clayton County can support their schools by participating in various activities, volunteering time and resources, remaining informed about issues and challenges, asking questions, dispelling rumors, and supporting local school and district leadership, as well as the Board of Education.
Dr. PAM ADAMSON
Clayton Board of Education