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Liberty County school board hears elementary school rezoning proposals
Quiana Yvonne Morris 12 Lewis Frasier Middle School-1
Quiana Yvonne Morris, 12, Lewis Frasier Middle School, sings and inspiration tune to kick off the March 10 Board of Education Meeting. - photo by Randy C.Murray

Attendance zone lines at three Liberty County schools could be redrawn to better balance their student populations.

Jason Rogers, the school system’s assistant superintendent for administrative services, discussed the plan to better balance student population at Lyman Hall, Taylors Creek and Waldo Pafford elementary schools during the Board of Education meeting last week.

Superintendent Dr. Valya S. Lee reminded board members and parents attending the meeting that Rogers’ presentation was in fact a proposal, not a plan.Board member Marcus Scott asked Rogers if students already attending a specific school would be allowed to continue attending that school if they wanted to stay. Rogers said the child’s parents could apply for a waiver but there would be no “grandfathering” students to return to a school if they no longer live within the area zoned for that school.


 Bimonthly pay?

 There was considerable discussion about the next information item presented by Scott. He asked the board to consider bimonthly payroll for certified staff members. He said some teachers had asked him if it was possible for them to get half their pay at mid-month and the other half at the end of the month.

While one board member thought it might be possible because the county reserves part of each teacher’s salary, another was concerned the sudden change might make it difficult for teachers to budget their income. Many people pay their mortgage at the beginning of the month, she said, adding that reducing that end-of-month check by half would not leave them enough money to make their house payment.

“We do not receive funding from the state until the last day of the month,” Chief Financial Officer Roger Reese said. “The reserved pay is actually money we hold back for the summer months.”

Lee said the district would study the suggestion, see what other school districts are doing and bring back a report.


Upcoming tests

 The last information item discussed was a list of tests students will take in the coming months, including the Georgia Milestone Assessment and end-of-course tests. Dr. Jennifer Walts said results for the assessment are not expected back until October.

She said that rather than a sampling of tests across the state, this year Georgia is grading every test to get a better picture of how students are actually doing. When the results are back, the state would reset test standards. For that reason, this year’s test results would not count against the students, teachers or schools, she said.


 Other business

 Seven of eight action items on the agenda were approved. Approval of the 2015-2016 calendar was delayed until another meeting. There was no discussion of any action item.

On Friday, Dr. Patti Crane, the district’s chief information officer, talked about two of the action items approved, the civility policy and a process for addressing board member violations of that policy. The policy sets clear expectations of civil behavior by board members during public and private meetings, to include restricting criticism to a position, not a person, and respecting the diverse views of citizens.

Penalties for violating the policy include assessing fines against board members and, for more serious violations, the board could ask Georgia’s governor to remove an offending board member.

“This policy isn’t a result of specific incidences,” said Crane. “(It) supports a safe, engaging and supportive environment …

“The local board governance process began with (Georgia) Senate Bill 84 in 2010. The expectation of this bill is that local school boards will have high standards and accountability. It was revised some years later to include a process where the governor can remove school board members individually, if needed, instead of entire boards. The Liberty County Board of Education wants to continue to assume a proactive approach to maintain high standards and accountability.”


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