The Liberty County Board of Education approved two board policies Tuesday morning, one regarding the state’s new “testing-out” option for receiving course credit and another that adds three state-approved pathways for high-school students.
The change to the state rule on awarding units and transferring credit allows students to earn course credit by scoring a “performance level exceeds grade” on a state end-of-course test prior to taking the course. Students may earn no more than three units of credit using the “testing-out” option.
Students who want to test out must have parental permission, and parents must be informed of potential costs prior to their student taking the EOCT, according to the policy. Students who attempt to test out but do not score an “exceeds” on the EOCT must pay the cost of the test. The EOCT is administered in December and May.
Georgia has restructured its graduation requirements by adding three pathways, according to school officials. These include a foreign language; an academic pathway in science, math, English and social studies; and a fine-arts or music pathway.
A foreign-language pathway consists of three foreign-language credits. The academic pathway consists of at least one Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate course in the subject area. A fine-arts or music pathway consists of three fine arts or music courses.
In other board of education business:
• Teaching and learning specialists Susan Avant and Susan Norce briefed school-board members on a new math comprehensive plan being implemented to help improve student math scores on standardized tests. The plan will use formative assessments and feedback data to help restructure instruction when necessary, Avant and Norce said. The plan also will help better identify students who may be struggling. The teaching and learning specialists also spoke about new benchmarks being developed by the school system’s academic coaches. These benchmarks would target math, reading and English/language arts for grades three through eight and for coordinate algebra and analytic geometry. High-school benchmarks would be given three times a semester, Avant and Norce said. Benchmarks for elementary and middle-school students would be given in October, December and February.
• The school board approved a $64,040 contract to implement the Thinking Maps initiative. Thinking Maps are graphic-organizer techniques. The one-time materials purchase and a professional-development fee will be funded by Title 1 funds, Liberty County School Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee said. Dr. Debbie Rodriguez, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, defined Thinking Maps as “a language of eight visual patterns each based on a fundamental thought process.”
“These maps are used individually and in combination across every grade level and curriculum areas as an integrated set of tools for life-long learning,” Rodriguez wrote in an executive summary.
• Lee told the board she would make a formal recommendation regarding athletic finances at the school board’s next regular meeting Oct. 8. Jason Rogers, assistant superintendent of administrative services, wrote in an executive summary that the school district currently pays for certain athletic expenditures on behalf of the schools. The district paid $33,792 for officials and $32,776 for security in fiscal year 2013, according to Rogers. He estimated these costs would remain the same for fiscal year 2014.
• John Lyles, assistant superintendent for operations, informed board members that the school system is developing a comprehensive communications strategy to engage the community and to communicate the district’s successes. System staff has created two new fliers, the Brag Tag and District Data, he said. The Brag Tag will highlight LCSS leadership, technology, the college and career academy, academic rigor, the pre-K center and facilities. District Data will offer information on the number of learning sites, Title I schools, the district’s operating budget and statistics on enrollment, graduation rates and the computer-to-student ratio. Lyles said these publications will be distributed to area real-estate agents, Fort Stewart and businesses, and will be posted online.
• The school board approved $42,908.18 in change orders for gym renovations at Lyman Hall, Button Gwinnett and Joseph Martin elementary schools. The cost will be funded by SPLOST dollars, Lyles said.
• Board members approved paying no more than $53,624 for a remediation process to improve the air quality at Taylors Creek Elementary School, which began to experience air-conditioner failures in July. School staff voiced concern over excessive moisture and its impact on air quality, according to Lyles. Tests showed a need to remediate microbial contaminants, he said. Three companies bid on the remediation project, with Service Master Recovery Management submitting the lowest bid, according to Lyles.
• The board approved $103,082.82 for equipment purchases for the district’s nutrition department. The cost will be funded by school nutrition program funds and by SPLOST, Lyles said.
• School-board members approved extending a copier-services contract with Cannon Solutions America Inc. to June 30, 2014. The eight-month extension will allow the contract’s finish date to correspond with the district’s fiscal-year end.
• The board approved out-of-state travel for Bradwell Institute seniors to attend Grad Bash on April 26, 2014, in Orlando, Fla., and Lee’s request to attend the ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) National Conference on Educational Leadership on Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in Las Vegas. The seniors will individually fund their trip expenses, and Lee’s travel will cost the district $1,500. This conference is one of three conferences previously approved for the superintendent to attend.
• The school system will hold a community forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center.