A Bible won’t likely be found in a stack of textbooks any given county student might have, but if one North Bryan man has his way it very well could be.
At the Bryan County Board of Education’s regular meeting Thursday, Pembroke resident Fred Covington approached the board during public comment about implementing a Bible curriculum in classrooms at the high school level.
The BoE took no action on the request, but school system staff is looking into whether other school systems have such classes.
According to Covington, the curriculum would not teach the Bible in a religious sense, but teach elements of history and literature in relation to the Old and New Testaments.
“It’s actually an elected course in high school that on school time and for school credit uses the Holy Bible as a textbook,” he said after the meeting
Covington, who has just finished reading the Bible for the second time, said he believes teaching the history and literature of the Bible would expose students to many positive things.
“If they study the history and literature as an elected course, they are going to study some beautiful language,” he said. “Our forefathers thought it was beautiful and sensible. And to me, which I’m no scholar or anything of that nature, it’s the best book you could ever have in school.
“If you threw all the rest out and couldn’t have but one (book), it would be the Bible for the lessons of life.”
Bible courses that teach the history and literature of Old and New Testament eras were allowed in Georgia public schools after legislation was passed in 2006, he told the board.
Throughout the nation, Covington said, 93 percent of school boards that have been approached about the curriculum have approved it. According to the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools’ website, a resource Covington used, their Bible curriculum has been voted into 593 school districts in 38 states.
He also asked the board to consider implementing the course in Bryan County schools for the 2012-2013 school year.
Superintendent John Oliver said adding the class could be a possibility, but he noted the school system must be careful when introducing new curriculum.
“When you introduce anything new, right now financially we just have to be careful of adding any elective to the high school curriculum,” he said Monday.
Oliver said he has made several inquiries to other high schools in the surrounding area. The Bible curriculum is currently offered in Glynn County high schools and offered once a year in Wayne County schools, he said.
In Jeff Davis County, he said, the class did not generate enough interest, and Tattnall and Long counties do not offer the course.
As far as adding it to Bryan County schools, Oliver said the course may be put on the student registration forms to see if it bodes enough interest. He added if there was enough interest, the course would likely only be offered to juniors and seniors.
Oliver said adding the class to the curriculum would not necessarily require the board’s approval because it is already approved at the state level. However, the challenge with adding the class, he said, is whether or not the resources are available.
“It really depends on whether we can schedule the class, whether there is sufficient interest from students and sufficient staff to teach the course,” he said.
Oliver also said he had a concern about finding an instructor for the course, noting the potential instructor would have to be qualified to teach the course that is based on a state curriculum guide.
Board member Paine Bacon said during the meeting he appreciated the time and effort Covington had put into approaching the board and thanked him for bringing the curriculum to the board’s attention.
“I read the curriculum and the documents you sent and although as a board we do not set curriculum ... personally, I support the curriculum that you have presented,” Bacon said.
While Oliver did not say when or if the board would vote on the matter, he said he plans to continue looking into adding the course.
Also at the meeting:
• The board approved a request from the Bryan County Superintendent of Elections office to use the Bryan County Board of Education cafeteria in Black Creek as a polling place during elections.
• The board approved “Teaching,” a textbook for the Examining the Teaching Profession course at Bryan County High School. This is the first time the course is being offered.