State Board Reports

12/14 - December 2021 State Board of Education Report

December 2021 State Board of Education Report
by Justin Pauly on 12/14/2021

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December 2021 State Board of Education Meeting

The State Board of Education met for committees Wednesday, December 8th and the full board meeting Thursday the 9th. Most of the discussion for items occurred during the committee meetings. Click here for the full agenda.

In the Budget Committee most of the items were routine. One item that brought some discussion was the RESA Mental Health Awareness Training item This grant allows funding to be redirected in full to the RESAs. RESAs can decide how they want to use the money for mental health and awareness by having the ability to use vendors of their choosing.

The Rules Committee met and the items that garnered most discussion were the Standards for Personal Finance and Economics and the repeal of the Rule for Guidance Counselors and bringing it up to today’s definitions by the approving of the School Counselors Rule. 

District Flexibility & Charter Committee: One of the 2 items in the committee was Georgia Principles and Standards for Charter School Authorizing as required by House Bill 430 (O.C.G.A. 20-2-2063.3) from the 2017-2018 legislative session. This item creates standards and principles for all 3 charter authorizers, the local school board, the State Charter Schools Commission and State Board of Education. These standards were created to ensure continuity among the 3 authorizers when considering charter applications.

Lauren Holcomb, Executive Director of the State Charter Schools Commission presented their annual report as required to the Flexibility Committee. Her presentation ranged from performance data to demographics, financials, operations, and growth within the approved state charter schools. 

The Department of Education introduced a new hire for the new position of Military Student and Family Specialist, Rachel LaVoie.

The State Board is working on 2 rules for student transportation: FBO 160-5-3-.17 Use of Alternative Vehicles for the Transport of Specified Student Groups and FBO 160-5-3-.02 Contracted Transportation Services. The State Board expressed concerns over student safety and security in both rules and plan to work with the GaDOE to revise the language and will likely post both rules for initiation in January.

On Thursday, the State Board of Education meeting was held and moved fairly quickly. Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard, President & CEO of Must Ministries delivered the inspiration. All items were approved with little or no discussion. The slate of 2022 officers were approved which are as follows. Chair, Jason Downey, Vice Chair, Dr. Stan DeJarnett and Vice Chair of Appeals, Leonte Benton. A special thanks to Scott Sweeny for serving as Chair of the SBOE for the last 2 years especially through the pandemic.

Finally, a big congratulations to the newest State Board member for the 2nd Congressional District, Mr. Frank Griffin of Lee County and Past President of GSBA.

Date of the next meeting will be January 13, 2022. Click here for the SBOE 2022 Calendar.

11/05 - November 21 State Board of Education Meeting

November 21 State Board of Education Meeting
by Justin Pauly on 11/5/2021

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State Board Report

The State Board of Education conducted their committee meetings and board meeting Wednesday, November 3 and Thursday, November 4thTo review the agenda visit click here.

The Board began the day on November 3rd discussing the implications of Senate Bill 68 from the 2020 General Session that strengthens provisions relating to financial management for school systems. GaDOE Chief Financial Officer, Rusk Roam, presented on the changes and updates in SB68. Most of the discussion centered around what the State Board’s required role is and the reconvening of the Audit Committee. They also discussed the collaboration with the GaDOE, GA Department of Audits and the State Board to identify districts who are in the moderate to high-risk categories in the area of budget and finance to get them back on track. The Audit Committee, which has been added to the Budget Committee will begin their work in December.

Each of the State Board Committees met, Budget, Rules and Flexibility to build the agenda for the full State Board meeting. After the Budget Committee went through their agenda items, they again discussed their added role as the Audit Committee. The Audit committee will begin next month to adhere to the requirements of SB68 for finance and audits for high-risk school districts who have problematic audit reports. The audit committee will meet as needed to review quarterly reports to start the process of notifying and working with high-risk districts. 

On Thursday, November 4th the full board met. State Board Member, Scott Johnson, delivered the Inspiration. Mike Royal and Scott Johnson traveled to Colorado this past summer to spend time with the U.S. Army on the Education Tour. Mr. Johnson went back this past Tuesday to skydive with the U.S. Army Golden Knights in Florida and shared the video with the SBOE.

Toombs County Schools presented on their pilot program, Heavy Equipment Operations pathway, to the State Board to showcase their success as the State Board considered for approval an item on the agenda for the pathway, which ultimately passed. Steve Rodgers of Servants Task Force also presented their program to the State Board. Matt Jones, GaDOE Chief of Staff, presented on an update of the Economics Course, updating the existing economics course to ensure its relevancy for today’s students with an emphasis on personal finance. Posting this course for review was on the agenda for approval.

Chair, Scott Sweeny, recognized the loss of State Board of Education Member, Dr. David “Butch” Mosely and highlighted his positive impact on public education. GaDOE named the new Office of Rural Education and Innovation after Dr. Mosely. 

Finally, the State Board pulled an item for discussion, Rule 160-5-3-.02 CONTRACTED TRANSPORTATION SERVICES which stems from SB 159 from the 2021 Legislative Session, expanded the definition of vehicles that can be used to transport students under certain conditions. Mike Royal expressed concern around the requirements on ride share providers. They ultimately decided to postpone the item from the agenda for a review for ride share clarification and ensure it complies with state law. The State Board will potentially holding a called meeting to vote on the item once the language is finalized and ready to move forward.

Once this was completed State Board Members shared any last comments and they adjourned the meeting.

10/01 - September State Board Meeting

September State Board Meeting
by Grace Kim on 10/1/2021

September 29, 2021 Committee Meetings

The Budget Committee submitted numerous items to the full board’s consent agenda including:  

-            $5.2 million in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Homeless Children and Youth grants and $1.5 million in ARP funds for the Georgia Network for Education and Therapeutic Supports; and

-          $4.3 million in charter school facility grants.  

The Rules Committee submitted the following items to the consent agenda:

-          Initiated rule making for adding vaping and tobacco use prevention education (per HB 287) and for adding the Georgia Independent School Association to the list of accrediting agencies (per HB 606);

-          Approval to post revisions to the information technology pathways course standards; and

-          The appointment of Jodie Snow to the Georgia Foundation for Public Education Board of Directors. 

The District Flexibility and Chart Schools Committee submitted the following items to the consent agenda: 

-          Waivers from Georgia Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills assessment (GKIDS) requirements for the Calhoun City (charter system), Chattahoochee County (charter system), Colquitt County (charter system). They will be participating in a pilot program.

-          Mitchell County and Monroe County Schools applied to add college and career academies to their contracts.

September 30, 2021 Committee of the Whole and Full Board Meetings

Teacher of the Year Cherie Dennis was formally introduced to the State Board. She will act as an ex officio member of the State Board.

A public hearing for Student Support Team Rule amendment to include dyslexia screening was also briefly held.

Superintendent’s Report

The Superintendent introduced the new head of the Office of Rural Education and Innovation, Dr. Bronwyn Ragan-Martin, to the State Board. She was formerly the superintendent of the Early County School system. The Office of Rural Education and Innovation was created to focus on needs of rural districts.

School Bus Safety week is coming up in October. The Superintendent and State Board commended the work of school bus drivers and discussed the initiatives that schools have taken to decrease school bus related hazards. The Superintendent and Board also congratulated Gwinnett County student Huyen Pham for winning this year’s national school bus safety poster contest. 

Chair’s Report

The upcoming State Board retreat will be held at Jekyll Island. 

Full Board

The full Board unanimously passed the consent agenda and overturned a local board’s findings on a legal decision.  

Here is a link to the video recording of the meeting. Click here for a link to the agenda.

If you would like to see how much federal coronavirus relief funding a school system has received, check out the GaDOE’s new ESSER dashboard.

08/31 - August State Board Meeting

August State Board Meeting
by Grace Kim on 8/31/2021

State Board of Education Meeting August 25-26, 2021

Rules Committee

The Rules Committee approved the new K-12 math standards but wanted the new standards to be voted on separately by the full Board. While there was general approval for the new standards themselves, a few committee members raised concerns about whether the implementation should be pushed back. Committee members stated that administrators and teachers may not be able to cope with new professional development classes given the rocky start to this school year.

The Rules Committee tabled a rule amendment that would permit high school students to take a Personal Finance course in place of Economics. Committee members believed that it was important for students to be exposed to both Personal Finance and Economics and wanted to explore ways to make that happen.

The Rules Committee gave approval for the following agenda items to be put on the Full Board's consent agenda: 

  •       A waiver from the anti-nepotism laws for a Lanier County school board member; and, 
  •      An amendment to the Student Support Team Rule to accommodate the new dyslexia screening laws. 

District Flexibility and Charter School Committee

The District Flexibility and Charter School Committee approved all the items on its agenda. Those items were:

  •      A waiver renewal for schools participating in the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority (IADA) pilot program; 
  •       Valdosta City Schools contract amendment; 
  •       Griffin Region College and Career Academy charter amendment; and, 
  •       Newton College and Career Academy charter renewal. 

Superintendent's Report

Chief of Staff Matt Jones reported that the GaDOE and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) had entered into a partnership which will allow high school students to earn TCSG credits for completing certain Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education pathways.

Southern Regional Educational Board, Acting CTO Deputy Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Johnson, and the Superintendent of Dooly County's Schools also provided updates. 

Full Board:

The Board voted to accept an additional $2.7 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds for the local schools. In the interest of transparency, GaDOE will create a dashboard showing how schools are spending all the federal COVID-19 relief funds that they have received or will receive. The Partnership for Excellence will do a deeper dive on how schools are using their grant funds and study best practices.

The Board and agreed to adopt the new math standards with the understanding that the implementation could be delayed.

The full agenda of can be found here.

06/17 - June 16-17 State Board of Education Meeting

June 16-17 State Board of Education Meeting
by Grace Kim on 6/17/2021

State Board Meeting June 16-17, 2021

 

June 16, 2021: Rules Committee Meeting

The Rules Committee met to consider new standards and approve the ones that had been published last month. The Rules Committee approved new standards for cosmetology, film production, and poultry sciences.

SB 47, the expansion of the special needs voucher, was briefly discussed since the agenda included the names of six new private schools which will qualify to accept voucher money. Currently, 273 private schools receive special needs vouchers. So far this fiscal year, the state has paid $25,046,381 to private schools to educate 5,005 special needs students. 

The members of the Special Education State Advisory Panel were also approved to be sent to the full Board.

June 17, 2021: Full Board Meeting

Overall, the meeting was relatively short and the tone was respectful as Board members and State Superintendent Woods took time to remember people who had recently passed. 

The full Board adopted all the items submitted by the Rules, the Charter Schools, and the Budget Committees. A copy of the agenda can be found here

State Superintendent Woods updated the Board on the status of the new math standards. He had a meeting in Macon where he accepted feedback from parties who had expressed concerns. The math standards are now being fine tuned and should be ready for publication at the next Board meeting in July. The scheduling of professional learning classes for teachers is also being considered; State Superintendent Woods did not want to overwhelm teachers.  

The State Superintendent will start looking at English language standards towards the end of this year, but it will be October or November at the earliest. 

06/04 - About That State Board Meeting

About That State Board Meeting
by Angela Palm on 6/4/2021

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Unless you have been blissfully living under a rock, you know the State Board of Education held a called meeting yesterday to consider a resolution of the Board in response to a letter from Gov. Brian Kemp. The meeting can be heard here, and I encourage you to read the resolution, listen to the meeting, and form your own opinion.  Gov. Kemp praised the work of the State Board in a press release that included a statement from State Superintendent Richard Woods and State Board of Education Chairman Scott Sweeney.

There have been a number of news reports about the State Board's action preventing the teaching of critical race theory or limiting in some way what can be taught.  When you read the resolution, however, you will see that they list a series of beliefs the Board holds. They did not adopt a rule.  The State Board does not adopt curriculum, they adopt standards that the district's curriculum must include.  The resolution did not address any existing standard.  The term "critical race theory" is not in the resolution.  

Chairman Sweeney referred to the resolution as a "foundational document."  The closing paragraph does say that if beliefs 6-12 (the final copy will be corrected) are not already codified, they will consider codifying all or part of them.  The emphasis on all this has been on race and history, but I would call your attention to beliefs nine and ten. Wording on those is a pretty wide net to catch I'm not sure what.  

The resolution passed 11-2 with Kenneth Mason and Leonte Benton voting no.  Jason Downey was not present for the meeting. Tracey Pendley, Georgia's Teacher of the Year, is an ex-officio member of the State Board so has no vote but was very outspoken about the resolution and underlying topics.  Several Board members spoke, and I again encourage you to listen to the meeting.

If you're wondering what started this, many point to the proposed priorities for competitive federal grants on history and civics education.  That caused a ruckus because it included examples (not requirements) such as the 1619 Project and the antiracism work of Ibram Kendi.  The argument over the content of history and civics education, however, has been going on for a long time. Whether it is posting the founding documents of the country, teaching them in a certain way, exit exams on U.S. History, the 1776 Commission, or other proposals or laws, there is an ongoing struggle over what to teach students about the history of our country. 

It is clear that numerous groups feel they have not been heard, that their history has not been acknowledged much less included, and other groups feel that by expanding what is taught to provide a more complete picture is harmful and defaming to the country. Most of us would never intentionally harm another person, but many feel harmed by the way the story of America has been told. Curriculum matters in ways that most of us never thought of it mattering.  This is not going away.  Educators, policymakers, and the public have a huge task before us, let us start by listening respectfully to each other, hearing each other's stories good and bad, and learning from each other. In the meeting yesterday and in most of the arguments around this, people say they want the truth to be taught so let's do that. We can't change history but we can build bridges to a better future for all of us.

05/13 - May Board Report

May Board Report
by Grace Kim on 5/13/2021

 

The State Board of Education met on May 12th and 13th. New legislation made for a slightly different State Board meeting. 

May 12th

Georgia’s Teacher of the Year, Tracey Pendley, sat in on the committee meetings as the newest member of the State Board. The Teacher of the Year became an ex-officio member of the State Board pursuant to the Governor’s teacher pipeline bill, SB 88.  

The Rules Committee Meeting:

A few items are still in the works and will be brought back at the State Board’s next meeting. Student support rules on dyslexia screenings are being adjusted. State Superintendent Woods is seeking specific feedback on the proposed math standards and will be meeting with curriculum directors and superintendents who had expressed concerns.

The District Flexibility and Chart Schools Committee Meeting:

Foothills Education Charter, Mountain Education Charter, and Coastal Plains Charter introduced themselves to the Committee. These schools came under the purview of the State Board through SB 153. 

Foothills, Mountain Ed., and Coastal Plains are statewide charter schools for students who are unlikely to graduate from a traditional high school. Their students earn a traditional high school diploma and are ready to enter the workforce when they graduate. 

The Committee also approved the appointment of Mike Dudgeon to the State Chart School Commission. Mike Dudgeon is currently serving as the Lt. Governor’s Policy Director.  

May 13th

Today’s Committee of the Whole and full board meetings were relatively short. 

Teacher of the Year Tracey Pendley was given the opportunity to introduced herself to the entire State Board.

The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) presented its plans for performing a study on the effects of the pandemic on student testing. GOSA will conduct this research in place of auditing test results since testing was suspended due to the pandemic. 

In addition to the items on the consent calendar, the full State Board also passed the Georgia Department of Education's FY 2022 budget by a seperate vote. 

There was no State Superintendent’s Report today. 

03/26 - March State Board Report

March State Board Report
63721 on 3/26/2021

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The State Board met earlier this week for their monthly Board meetings. While interest in the State Board is always high, this month took on extra importance as the Board approved the $1000 teacher bonus and the latest distribution of federal stimulus money.

Budget Committee

Following the General Assembly's approval of the Amended FY2021 budget earlier this month, the State Board had a lengthy agenda partially responding to changes in that budget. Also contributing to the agenda were several items relating to federal stimulus funds that have been sent to the state. While not the item with the biggest amount of funds tied to it (that honor goes to the new federal allocation from the American Rescue Plan), the headliner of the committee was the approval of the $1000 retention bonus for teachers. 

Of the 31 items on the agenda, one was removed, four were held for a separate vote, and the remaining items were added to the consent agenda. 

Rules Committee

A year and a half after the start of the process, the Department of Education introduced the new draft standards for mathematics. The time line had to be shifted dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the effort was ramped up in recent months and the new standards have been unveiled. This item was added to the consent agenda, along with the approval to post the new standards for Artificial Intelligence Career Pathways courses, and a group of new computer science elective courses.

The committee also took up the revisions to the Health standards, and three State Board rules (Testing Programs-Student Assessment, Dual Enrollment, and Student Support Team). Those four items were pulled for separate votes.

Charter Schools Committee

The Charter Schools Committee has been brought back, this time with a new chairman. Dr. Stan DeJarnett is now leading the committee following his appointment to the Board earlier this year.

Three local charter schools had their charters renewed. Those schools are:

  • Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (APS)
  • Fulton Academy of Science and Technology (Fulton)
  • Skyview High School (Fulton) 

Full Board Meeting 

Following a brief public comment period for the proposed State Board rules, the Board jumped right in to business. A lot of the discussion centered around the use of federal stimulus money and the guidance being given to local districts on the spending of that money. While it was recognized that the Board cannot earmark those funds, some believe that by giving local districts some ideas on how to spend money, it would make it easier for districts.

There was no report from either the Chair or Superintendent. 

01/15 - January State Board Report

January State Board Report
63721 on 1/15/2021

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The State Board met for their January meeting earlier this week. As per the norm, the first board meeting of the year coincides with the start of the new session of the General Assembly and the Governor's State of the State address. There were a couple new faces on the Board, as Governor Kemp's two new appointees Dr. Stan DeJarnett and Matt Donaldson joined for their first meeting as Board members. 

Budget Committee

The Budget Committee kicked the meeting off and had a heavy focus on CARES and CARES2 (federal COVID-19 related legislation) funding distributions. The most noteworthy being the $1.7 billion of supplemental funds that was included in the most recent COVID relief bill passed in Congress (CARES2). The Board had to formally accept the money, but the exact distribution to local districts is still being discussed. Some members of the Board had questions regarding some of the specifics and Department of Education staff was still ironing out the details of the distributions at the time of the meeting.

The committee also approved supplemental CARES funding to go to districts who had to set aside additional CARES funds for equitable services. The full list of districts and the amounts there were distributed can be found here.

On the whole, there were 11 items on the Budget Committee agenda, all moved to the consent agenda. 

Rules Committee

Following Budget, Rules met and took up eight items on their agenda. The committee heard presentations from several charter schools who had their contracts up for renewal or an amendment, and two districts had hardship waivers approved. All Rules Committee items were placed on the consent agenda.

Concluding the business of the Rules Committee was a presentation for Department of Education Chief of Staff Matt Jones who gave an update on the mathematics standards revision that started before the pandemic. After a pause, the process recently started back up and proposed standards look to be unveiled sometime in the first half of 2021.

Full Board

It was a quick morning and a light agenda for the full Board, as they quickly finished their work ahead of the Governor's State of the State. Only one item, an individual legal case, was held out for a separate vote. 

The team at Pioneer RESA played a video showing all their work to adapt in this COVID-19 climate, and Director Justin Old was on the phone to answer any questions on the great work they are doing in these challenging times.

The next Board meeting will take place over two days, February 17 and 18 in Atlanta. 

12/10 - December State Board Report

December State Board Report
63721 on 12/10/2020

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The December meeting of the State Board of Education followed a once familiar pattern with committee meetings on Wednesday and the full Board meeting on Thursday.

Budget Committee

It was a rather lengthy agenda for the Budget Committee this month, as they reviewed 30 agenda items. Most of the items were non-controversial, but one required a more extensive examination and was held out for a separate vote. The board item would give the State Superintendent the authority to enter into a contract with a to be named vendor to administer the Voluntary Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant Program. 

Rules Committee

In a stark contrast, the Rules Committee took up only 3 items, and moved them all to the consent agenda. Included in those items were a new state charter school, a new appointment to the State Charter Schools Commission, and the release of the 2021 State Board Meeting calendar. The calendar for the year can be found here.

Other Committees

The State Schools Committee and the Operations Committee met following the Rules Committee meeting, but no action items were considered.

Board Meeting

The full board got together Thursday morning to wrap up this meeting. It was a relatively quick affair following a short executive session. All items added to the agenda, including the Budget Committee item held from the day before, were approved.

There were two presentations, starting with Deputy Superintendent Tiffany Taylor who gave the board an update on the state of charter schools in Georgia. She provided the board with graphs outlining the charter approval process, as well as test scores across all charter schools in the state.

The final presentation of the day came from the Governor's Office of Student Achievement (GOSA). GOSA staff updated the Board on the Governor's Honors program and the challenges they faced during 2020, as well as the future of the program.

The video recording of the meeting can be found here

The next meeting will take place December 11 at 3:00pm where the Board will consider a statement with regards to former Chief Turnaround Officer Dr. Eric Thomas.

The final meeting of 2020 will be held December 21. It is expected the board will elect officers for 2021, as well as revisit the End of Course final grade weight issue that dominated the previous two board meetings.