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Liberty County BoE meetings to be videotaped

Liberty County Board of Education meetings will be videotaped for the public to watch.

The board approved videotaping the meetings by a 5-2 vote during its Tuesday morning work session. Carolyn Smith Carter and Dr. Yvette Keel opposed the action.

Videotaping was not on the meeting’s original agenda. At the beginning of the meeting, Chairwoman Lily Baker told the board she wanted to “amend the agenda to renew a motion that was presented to us on Dec. 8, 2015, and that is the videotaping or our board minute meetings.”

Carter and Keel cited Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry M. Robert, a guidebook for conducting meetings, saying that the item could not be added to the agenda because it had already been voted on previously.

“Even the notes that you (Baker) gave us says there is a time limit period, but it goes into a different explanation in Robert’s Rules of Order,” Carter said.

Keel read from the 11th edition of the guidebook and said that a motion from a previous session needs to have “significant change in the wording” in order for it to be reconsidered.

“It is being reworded. After receiving the AdvancED report on the board that there’s some changes that need to occur, and we’ve been asked to videotape our meetings so that our constituents can actually view us,” Baker said. “We can state it, ‘To videotape all of our meetings,’ or ‘For all or our meetings to be videotaped.’”

Carter said it was “an illegal motion” according to Robert’s Rules. The guidebook is not law.

The motion was approved 4-2, with Carter and Keel opposed, to add videotaping to the agenda. Board member Verdell Jones was absent at the beginning of the meeting and was present later.

When it came time to vote on videotaping, Keel read aloud from information Baker gave to the board members about renewing a motion. She said the board has to make the same motion again at the “next” monthly meeting and noted that the videotaping agenda item was at the Dec. 8 meeting, meaning the deadline to renew the motion had passed.

“I’ve done research, and I don’t see where we can’t reconsider a vote because it’s been voted down,” board member Carol Guyett said. “I don’t think there’s a time limit to the very next meeting or day.”
Keel insisted there was a time limit.

Jones said while she served under former superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer, there was a situation where the board wanted to renew a motion. The board researched and found that it was allowed to vote again.

After this discussion, the board approved videotaping meetings.

Details on how the meetings will be taped and where videos will be posted were not discussed.

Testing difficulties

The recent administration of the Georgia Milestone Assessment System tests ran into some technical difficulties. Dr. Jennifer Walts, the Liberty County School System’s director of evaluation, assessment and accountability, explained.

School systems are required to have 50 percent of their school population to test online, Walts said. The school district selected students in grades three, five and eight, along with special education students. To prepare for the test, Walts said the district conducted a systemwide simulated test in February and another in March. Apple technical support was on-site, and students took a secure practice test so they could experience logging onto the secure site.

“As we moved through the simulation, our infrastructures were rock solid,” Walts said. “It held. We were not having connection issues. We felt confident that going into the test we had done everything on our end to make sure we give our students and teachers a smooth testing experience.”

Walts said the source of the problems was testing company Data Recognition Corporation’s application running on electronic devices and its server slowing down because of all the school systems in the state taking the tests at once. The Liberty County School System immediately made The Georgia Department of Education and DRC aware of the problems. DRC sent representatives to the district to analyze testing problems. The team brought its own devices and wireless hot spot and experienced the same problems, Walts said, adding that other school districts had similar trouble.

Guyett said she has heard from concerned parents and teachers about the scores of students whose tests were interrupted by technical problems.

Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee said she plans to have some of her staff put together a brief explaining the problems that occurred and will request to meet with State School Superintendent Richard Woods to discuss what happened.

“Last year when we administered the GMAS, it was a harmless year. We don’t want this to count against our children,” Lee said.

“The state department is fully aware,” Walts said. “Every teacher kept a roster of every testing session where they highlighted the names of children who had technical disruption. We have extensive documentation.”

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