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School board relaxes visitor policy
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Controversial topics were back on the table Tuesday as the Liberty County Board of Education discussed proposed revisions to its code of conduct for the coming school year.
Title 1 Facilitator Harley Grove presented the revisions, which he said came from a committee composed of school-level representatives.
Two changes addressed the visitor policy that drew backlash last year when parents realized they could not walk their children to class on the first day.
The new rule will allow kindergarten students to be escorted
to class during the first week,
and those in grades one through five may be walked on the first day. After that time period, parents must follow the classroom observation guidelines.
Classroom observations still will be limited to once per semester, “unless federal regulations require different procedures,” or upon agreement of the administration and parents as needed for special circumstances.
Uniforms drew much debate, as Grove presented a recommendation to add to elementary-school-uniform policies that dresses are not allowed.
“I’ve just got a whole problem still with this dress code …,” board member Marcia Anderson said. “The dresses, you know, we’re raising children completely now, it seems like. … My problem is we are just nitpicking to death what a child’s wearing when we should be nitpicking what’s in their brain.”
“And this dress thing, I guess we’ve got some kids wearing short dresses? Is that the issue?” board member Carol Guyett asked.
Grove said it was proposed as a point of clarification because some parents send their children to school in dresses, which causes problems with the dress-code enforcement.
“If you look in a uniform catalog, there are uniform dresses in there,” BoE Chairwoman Lily Baker said. “I don’t have a problem with it. I think we had a parent come in here this school year with a uniform dress. … I understand that we’re cleaning up and trying to get things straight so the parents understand, and I think what I’m hearing from the body is that with the dresses, instead of saying they’re not allowed, saying they are allowed.”
They asked Grove to specify that “solid navy or khaki pants, skirts, jumpers with approved tops, skorts, shirts and uniform dresses with sleeves” will be allowed.
When they moved on to a recommendation to say dresses are not allowed for middle and high schools, the board chose to retain the change.
Another uniform-related item sought to specify that only solid white, gray or black T-shirts may be worn under uniform shirts. Carol Guyett said she opposes that change because she feels it is excessive.
There was further discussion about whether the uniform policy is excessive, and board member Verdell Jones suggested they address the issue in a roundtable with administrators.
The board voted to adopt the changes, with Becky Carter opposing and Carol Guyett abstaining because her daughter was named as a program advisor in the code of conduct.

The budget
Jason Rogers, assistant superintendent for administrative services, also presented the tentative budget for fiscal-year 2014 before the board voted to adopt it.
Rogers’ presentation did not include an estimated $600,000 in cuts that previously were discussed, and he asked that the board prepare to decide on the cuts during the May 28 work session.
The tentative budget projects the district ending the 2014 fiscal year with a $15,568,300 undesignated-fund balance, but Rogers said those funds serve as a buffer during the time of year the district  does not receive new revenue.
The formal budget adoption is slated for 5:30 p.m. June 11 in the board room at 200 Bradwell St.

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