The Liberty County Board of Education has three new faces on the board—Jim Johns, Sr., Dr. Chante’ Baker-Martin, and Donita Strickland, as well the newly appointed vice-chair of the board, Carol Guyett.
The meeting opened with recognitions for the Winter Special Olympics committee, presented by Chief Academic Officer Patti Crane and the board. Chairwoman Lily Baker, Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry and vice-chair and district 3 board member Guyett presented committee members with certificates of appreciation.
“We’re very excited about this recognition,” Crane said. “The Special Olympics is a global movement of people creating a new world of inclusion and community where every single person is accepted and welcomed regardless of ability or disability. The people being recognized have gone above and beyond to work toward that goal in Liberty County. They all came together with one goal: to make this event special for each athlete.”
With their participation and efforts, Crane said, the county record for athlete participation and volunteer registration was broken. The tireless dedication to the athletes makes it possible for Liberty County Special Olympics to become even better for the students and the community, Crane continued.
In other board business, the board unanimously approved all out-of-state travel requests, and the 2019 board meeting schedule.
Every two years, the board is required to appoint a vice-chair of the board, Baker said. Previous vice-chair and District 1 board member Verdell Jones recommended Guyett to hold the position for the next two years. The board unanimously agreed.
Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Susan Avant presented the tentative board 2019-2020 school calendar to the board. According to Avant, the committee responsible for creating the calendar distributed two electronic surveys to gather input and response from students, staff, and parents. The committee received 2,400 responses between the two surveys, she said.
Baker voiced concerns over the four-day weekends in both February and March, leaving Christmas break shorter than two weeks for teachers, and leaving non-military families to find childcare on those days.
Avant said that the committee tried to follow the Fort Stewart training schedule as closely as possible, in order to let military families enjoy their time together.
“Most responses voted specifically for this calendar option,” Avant said. “The majority of our stakeholders would like to have this calendar option for 2019-2020.”
“I would still prefer that we had a three day weekend, and add the extra days onto the winter break,” Baker said. “That’s just my preference.”
Both Strickland and Guyett spoke in favor of the calendar, expressing the need for teachers to have breaks during the school year as well, allowing them to decompress. Teachers are burned out by winter break, and then burned out again by the middle of the spring semester, Guyett said.
The board approved the calendar with a vote of 6-1, with Baker voting against it. The calendar can be found on the Coastal Courier’s website.
Liberty County School System officially has three diploma seals it can offer to graduating students, according to Avant. The seals are Fine Arts, Civic Engagement, and Career Ready. Within the Career Ready seal, there are six different seals: Employability and Soft Skills seal; Distinguished Employability and Soft Skills seal; Pathway Skills seal; Distinguished Pathway Skills seal; Leadership Skills seal; and Distinguished Leadership Skills seal, Avant said.
“There are some requirements to get the seals,” she continued. “Most seals require related coursework, a pathway completion, community service. Some others require a specialized assessment or a capstone project.”
The new seals will be available to students graduating this year.