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LCSS to end Ombudsman contract, implement own alternative program
Outgoing board members honored at final meeting
The Liberty County Board of Education was recognized by the Georgia School Boards Association as a 2014 Distinguished School Board. - photo by Photo provided.

The Liberty County Board of Education on Tuesday voted unanimously to discontinue its contract with the Ombudsman alternative-education program and heard about plans for the district’s own alternative-school program.

According to the executive summary, submitted by LCSS Chief Academic Officer Mary Alexander, “the learning process has drastically changed over the years, while the learning and support of students at our alternative school has remained virtually unchanged.”

The Ombudsman program will serve out its contract through the end of the current school year. According to the summary, the district has until March to notify Ombudsman of its plans for the 2015-16 school year.

The summary goes on to note that the district ran its own alternative school many years ago, “which allowed more flexibility of program design to meet individual students’ needs,” and Alexander presented preliminary plans for the district’s new proposed alternative school, tentatively titled the Liberty County Horizons Program.

According to Alexander, the program will consist of three separate components or “avenues”: discovery, decisions and destinations.

The discovery component will serve the non-traditional child who may need some credit recovery or who “just works better with the computer,” she said.

Alexander said the decisions avenue will be looked at for “those students that have a Level IV (offense),” such as an alcohol, drug or weapon violation.

The destinations component will provide an alternative for out-of-school suspension.

“Instead of just suspending children, they can go over to the alternative school for that avenue,” Alexander noted.

Her plan included a proposed school day that runs from 8:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m. and includes a 15-minute block called “Morning Motivation,” during which teachers can talk with students about any problems they are experiencing.

“This is just the foundation — the start,” Alexander said. “We will be bringing you a lot more as we design.”

Outgoing board members honored

Prior to the start of Tuesday’s meeting, a reception was held to honor outgoing board members Becky Carter and Harold Woods, who represented Districts 6 and 5, respectively. Woods was unable to attend, however, due to health issues.

Woods and Carter both served 16 years on the school board.

“It really has been a good experience for me,” Carter said, noting that she appreciated the perspective she’d gained as a classroom teacher and school-level and central-office administrator before serving on the school board.

During the “recognitions” portion of the meeting, Carter was presented with a plaque honoring her service.

“On behalf of all of us, I want to say ‘thank you’ for your service to our community,” board Chairwoman Lily Baker said. “It takes a special person to give up their personal time to do what you did for 16 years.

“Things could have been different, better, in many ways, but I want to thank you for sticking in there … and thank you for being there for me when I first came on to the board.”

Woods also was honored in absentia, and Chief Information Officer Dr. Patti Crane read aloud a letter from Woods to the board.

“As I write this letter, I am experiencing a bittersweet moment, for I know I have reached the end of a long, rewarding career as a school-board representative,” the letter said in part. “I would like to thank everyone for your support over the years and for your prayers and well-wishes.”

Board members-elect Sampie Smith, District 6, and Marcus Scott, District 5, will be sworn in during a ceremony scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, at the BoE building.

BoE recognized by state

The board collectively was recognized by the Georgia School Boards Association as a 2014 Distinguished School Board.

According to Crane, the award is the second level of the GSBA Board Recognition Program and can only be achieved by school boards that have attained the Quality Board Recognition for the past year.

“They are one of only 53 other boards to achieve this honor in the state of Georgia,” she said. “Congratulations, and thank you for all you do to ensure excellence in the Liberty County School System.”

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