State Board Reports

11/04 - November State Board Report

November State Board Report
11/4/2022

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The State Board of Education met for their November meeting. The committees met Wednesday and the Committee of the Whole and the State Board meetings were held Thursday. To view the list of board items click here to see the full board meeting click here.

The only change to the schedule this month were that the state board of education added two work sessions: one to discuss the future of Foothills, Mountain Education Center, and Coastal Plains charter high schools and the other to discuss assessments. There is more on these below.

Rules Committee

The Rules Committee had three items to consider. The State Board is changing their bylaws to periodically hold meetings outside of Atlanta. This item was pulled for a separate vote. The Bylaws must sit for 30 days before adoption during the December meeting. The next item was the posting of the K-12 English Language Arts Standards. These standards are to revise/ develop and implement viable academic standards that engage learners with essential knowledge, skills, and enduring concepts, according to the GaDOE. The ELA standards were also pulled for discussion and a separate vote for the full meeting. 

A change in the State Board rule on student attendance was also discussed.  It will be adapted to incorporate the legislative change in HB 1292 to count a student present if they are participating in an activity or program of 4-H. This went on the consent agenda for initiation. Adoption of the standards for Research, Design, and Project Management course revision was originally on the agenda but was removed from consideration the day before the meeting.

District Flexibility & Charter Schools Committee

The only item for discussion was a reappointment to state charter schools commission from the Lt Governor, the item went to the consent agenda for the full meeting.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee discussed the list of moderate and high-risk school districts as it relates to financial controls. Since the last meeting one district was added and four were removed. For more information see the list by clicking here. The goal of this committee is to work with the districts for corrective actions and improvements.

Budget Committee

All items were added to the consent agenda for the full meeting. 

State Schools Committee 

The State Board heard a presentation from the state schools director and his staff regarding student enrollment, data assessment, and results.

Work Session State Charters Foothills, Mountain Ed, and Coastal Plains 

To kick off the session, House Speaker Pro Tem Representative Jan Jones took the podium and spoke of the findings of the report for the house education working committee for alternative education (students who are at risk for dropping out), the committee was in agreement in their conclusions. Speaker Pro Tem Jones indicated that the current model for these three schools needs to be changed. Currently, school districts who are in the region of one of these charter schools can send a student who has dropped out or in jeopardy of dropping out to take classes in a non-traditional way. The current model is a unique option for night/evening school so the student who may have extenuating circumstances can still graduate.  Pro Tem Jones said the committee is concerned with the accountability and the cost of this program which also shifts the burden to the state. This program operates at $43 million for the three schools. The legislative committee also feels the program is over funded for what it provides. They are encouraging school systems to come to the table to help find a solution and the committee requests local districts to step up to allow the schools to become local charters. The legislative committee agrees the schools and the program are valuable but not in its current model. Especially since two of the schools’ contracts are ending next year. She encouraged a collaborative effort on the schools governing boards, local superintendents and boards of education and the state to find the solution.

If you are interested in watching this presentation, click here . The first part was cut off but most of the discussion is captured in the link.

Work Session Assessments

The State Board held a discussion among the members to determine what direction the pilot alternative assessments will go. As of now the districts piloting the assessments are double testing and need to know if it is reasonable to continue the process. The alternative assessments are a formative test. The State Board feels the alternative assessments are high quality and give a picture of how a student is progressing versus a summative assessment which shows how a student performed the previous year. USED wants to see a summative assessment and therefore a discussion must be held with USED to see how they can come to an understanding or gain relief. The State Board wants to hear from the GaDOE on the background, USED guardrails and the state perspective. They also want to know if there is any alternate funding to finish out the pilot since the funding has not been in the budget.

SBOE Committee of the Whole

State Board member, Phenna Petty, brought greetings and introduced Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charlie Bethel to speak for the Inspiration and Pledge of Allegiance.

The full meeting agenda was built during Committee of the Whole.

Full SBOE Meeting

The Board heard a presentation from the GaDOE on the process and background for creating the new ELA standards and how they will be implemented. These standards are available for the 30-day public review and will be up for approval during the SBOE’s December meeting. One concern from the board is timing of the public review, will teachers have the opportunity with Thanksgiving and the end of the semester coming but recognize that finding a perfect time is not possible. The posting of the standards was approved, and the State Board commended the staff for all the work on this initiative and how important these new standards are for Georgia.

Chair’s Report

The State Board Bylaws have been submitted for the 30-day review period and will be up for approval in December. The change allows for meetings outside of Atlanta. New meeting dates for 2023 will be released soon. 

10/06 - September State Board Report

September State Board Report
10/6/2022

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The State Board met for committee meetings on Wednesday, September 28. Click here to review the committee meeting items and here for the full State Board meeting.

Committee Meetings 

Rules

First the Rules Committee met and breezed through their two items, posting the standards for a Research, Design and Project Management course and an amendment adding two RESA’s to the list of Local Board Governance Training Providers. These items were added to the consent agenda for the full State Board meeting.

District Flexibility & Charter Schools

This committee had three items, The first was the list of approved Charter School Board Training providers, next was a charter system renewal for Randolph County and the final item was affirming the State Charter Schools Commission Approvals. All items were added to the consent agenda. 

At the end of the meeting Chairman Jason Downey asked for discussion on school boards that have failed to adopt policies required by recent legislation. He named no names but said it is his hope that have failed to adopt those policies will see that the State Board is discussing it and get the required adoption done.  If they have been adopted by the November meeting, he believes they need to address the issue. The State Board asked the GaDOE to compile a list for review. More on this as it develops.

Budget

The Budget Committee had a list of nine items which all went on the consent agenda. Please visit the link above for committee items if you are interested in seeing what was approved. 

Presentation- Innovative Assessment

The State Board heard presentations regarding the Innovative Assessment pilot for the GMAPS and Putnam consortium using Navvy. This pilot program was a provision of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. Five states were approved for the program; Georgia was the only one approved for two competing pilots. 

Marietta City Schools (GMAPS Consortium) and Putnam County (NAVVY Consortium) presented. The two pilot school districts had a high level of frustration with the GaDOE and the SBOE as to the direction of the programs. They said neither the SBOE, the GaDOE nor the USED had provided feedback or resources on the pilot programs and that the future was uncertain. The districts did not want to proceed with the amount of work and testing without indication of where the program was going. 

After much discussion the SBOE and the GaDOE agreed that the programs should be reprioritized and added an item to the SBOE retreat agenda to discuss the direction, support, and resources towards these two pilot assessment programs. If you would like to watch the presentations and discussion, click here and start at the 1:59:25 mark. To see the state reports on the pilots so far, check here.

SBOE Meeting

The State Board meeting on Thursday, September 29 went quickly with all items on the consent agenda with the exception of two legal appeals which were pulled for a separate vote. The State Board reversed the local board’s decision in appeal 2022-28 and remanded appeal 2022-31 to the local board with instructions to make further findings and conclusions as to the student’s self-defense claim after applying the appropriate law. 

Most of the meeting time was spent listening to a presentation on literacy from the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy. To watch the presentation, click here and start at the 1:04:27 mark. 

The State Board will hold their retreat on Jekyll Island October 10-12. 

08/26 - August State Board Meeting

August State Board Meeting
8/26/2022

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The State Board of Education met Wednesday, August 22 for committee meetings and Thursday, August 23 for Committee of the Whole and the State Board meeting. The meetings were fairly routine. The Wednesday schedule for meetings allowed for 30 minutes or less for each committee to work through their items. The agenda was not extensive, so they worked efficiently and stayed on schedule. Thursday’s meetings also went as planned. To view the committee meeting schedule click here and to view Thursday’s full agenda, click here.

Rules

The Rules Committee only had one item for consideration. This was a new rule for adoption, the Dyslexia Identification and Support which requires policies for screening for dyslexia in grades k-3 for students exhibiting signs or symptoms of dyslexia and to provide parents resources and a process for monitoring progress of the student. The Dyslexia Task Force will continue to meet to advise the process. Training resources and materials will be developed for distribution as well. Since this item is a rule for adoption it was pulled for a separate vote during the full State Board meeting Thursday.

District Flexibility and Charter Schools

The Flexibility Committee had four items on the agenda. Three charter renewals, system renewal for Taliaferro County Schools, Dougherty County charter renewal for Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy, and Griffin Spalding County charter renewal for Griffin Region College and Career Academy. There was also an item to approve the State Charter Schools Commission renewals for which there were two.

Budget

The Budget Committee had 12 items mostly consisting of grants and contracts. The Governor’s announcement on designating $125 million for School Based Health Centers for Title I schools was added to the State Boards Agenda August 23rd and the Department of Education is tasked with administering the program. The Chair of the committee Matt Donaldson asked when will this program be implemented? The Department of Education indicated that since the money was so newly designated, they are developing the implementation plan and guidelines and that the State Board will be updated on how the money will be spent. The money must be used for infrastructure and renovations for physical space, salaries, supplies etc.

Audits

The Audit Committee met but only had 15 minutes. The discussion centered around the list of districts that are high risk and it was shared that some districts are making the corrective action to address the findings and that some are not. Most issues were specifically around financial controls. The State Board and the Department are working to see how they can help these districts get off the list and on track. The Department is trying to ensure that the district financial staff implements internal controls and works with RESAs (through finance job alike meetings). Audits Chair Mike Royal wants to find partnerships and collaborations to help the districts who are still having issues. The Department has had onsite visits and offered support and consulting services and are monitoring the high-risk districts to ensure compliance. No action was taken during the Audits committee.

SBOE Meeting 

The State Board meeting began with an inspiration introduced by Dr. Stan DeJarnett, Vice Chair. Dr. Dejarnett invited Dr. Valera Hudson, Pediatrician in Chief at Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta. She presented on mental health and resources for helping and supporting children in need. She also highlighted the Kevin & Brittany Kisner Foundation, which is helping to start the Children’s Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness program at Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta.

Public Hearing

The rule for the Dyslexia Identification and Support had a public hearing. Only one speaker spoke, and they were in support for the new rule for Dyslexia Identification and Support.

Agenda

The consent agenda included all items for action with the exception of the Dyslexia rule. The consent agenda passed unanimously. The next action taken was for the adoption of State Board rule for the Dyslexia Identification and Support which passed unanimously. The rule was praised by the State Board members for all the hard work over the last 2 years to develop it and for the task force and their advisory role as stake holders.

State School Superintendent’s Report

State School Superintendent Richard Woods recognized the following Georgia elementary, middle and high school principals and assistant principals:

Elementary School National Distinguished Principal Dr. Elgin Mayfield, Houston County

Elementary School National Outstanding Assistant Principal, Denise Reynolds, Dawson County

GA Middle School & National Distinguished Principal of the Year, Dr. Jeanette Hallan, East Coweta Middle School, Coweta County

GA Middle School & National Distinguished Assistant Principal of the Year, Thomas County Middle School, Thomas County

GA High School Principal of the Year, LeAnn McCall, Lowndes County High School, Lowndes County

GA High School Assistant Principal of the Year, Krista Pearson, Lowndes County High School, Lowndes County

Superintendent Woods also had Keith Osborne, CIO, Technology Services, GaDOE, present on the work of the Technology Services. He talked about what the GaDOE is doing with cyber security. He also talked about resources for teachers and discussed the Ga Inspire Instructional Supports (curriculum resources for teachers and classroom supports), Ga Learns professional learning, Ga Insights data visualization, GaDOE Online Community and collaboration platform.

Chair’s Report

The Chair opened up the floor for board member comments before adjournment.

Phenna Petty- Condolences to the Deal family on the passing of Ms. Sandra Deal, wife of former Governor Nathan Deal

Helen Rice- Remembering Ms. Sandra Deal for her work in public education and at the Governor’s Mansion

Scott Johnson- Condolences to the Deal Family and the valued relationship with the State Board of Education

Mike Royal- Condolences and prayers to the Deal family, and the strong family they modeled

Lisa Kinnemore- Condolences to the Deal family for their commitment to the state of Georgia

Kenneth Mason- Thanks to the GaDOE and the staff for their hard work for the state of Georgia and Deputy State Superintendent Stephanie Johnson and her school turnaround team

Richard Woods- Thanks to Stephanie Johnson and her work, and the staff at GaDOE, Condolences to the Deal family

Dr. Stan Dejarnett- condolences to the Deal family, congratulations to the principals for their service and their staff’s hard work, partnership and collaboration is the key to success

Adjourn

07/21 - July State Board of Education Meeting

July State Board of Education Meeting
by Justin Pauly on 7/21/2022

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July 2022 

State Board of Education Meeting

The State Board of Education met for their monthly meeting. Committee meetings were held Wednesday and the Committee of the Whole and the State Board meeting were held on Thursday as per their typical schedule. The State Board committee meetings stuck to a tight schedule with 15 or 30 minutes slated for each committee.

Rules

The 2 transportation rules were up for adoption, if you remember these have been long awaited. The first was a new Rule 160-5-3-.17, Use of Alternative Vehicles for the Transport of Specified Student Groups. Senate Bill 159, from the 2021 Legislative Session, expanded the definition of vehicles that can be used to transport students under certain conditions, which required the State Board to adopt a new rule. The second, was Rule 160-5-3-.02 Contracted Transportation Services. This rule, “updates information from the current rule requested for repeal and grants local educational agencies the opportunity to utilize the services of contracted transportation carriers who may use alternative vehicles to transport a specified student group as allowed under OCGA § 20-2-1076.” 

The next item of interest was initiation of Rule 160-4-2-.39, Dyslexia Identification and Support. This new Rule was created to comply with state law to develop policies for referring students in kindergarten and grades one through three for screening who have been identified through the response-to-intervention process as having characteristics of dyslexia, other disorders, or both. 

The remaining items were added to the consent agenda. 

Budget

All Budget Committee items were added to the consent agenda, with most items either grants or contracts. There was a discussion around the Budget Item for FY23 School Based Health Center Renovation Grant, some State Board members felt there is not sufficient guidance for the grant where the greatest need may be, i.e. mental health. GaDOE is currently writing guidance for those using the grant and for others who may utilize the grant in the future. Item 23, $50,000-$250,000 Contracts, one specific contract was pulled for a separate vote, the Southern Region Educational Board, because a State Board member works at SREB.

District Flexibility & Charter Schools

There were 2 items for Flexibility and Charter. One was for a charter amendment and the other was for a charter renewal. Both items were moved to consent.

Committee of the Whole

The inspiration was provided by Mr. Tom Bailey, a Physical Education Teacher at Briar Vista Elementary School in Dekalb County. He has a compelling story about his life through perseverance and overcoming adversity to achieve his dream of graduating college and ultimately becoming a teacher. 

The committee chairs reported on their meetings so the full State Board meeting agenda could be put together.

State Board Meeting

The consent agenda was approved. The 2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year was introduced and spoke. The Georgia Teacher of the Year, Michael Kobito, has a non-voting seat on the State Board of Education. This is the third Georgia Teacher of the Year since legislation was passed adding this seat. Mr. Kobito is an AP Music Theory teacher high school band director at Woodland High School in the Bartow County School System. 

Each item that was pulled for a separate vote was passed, including both transportation rules. The State Board expressed appreciation for all the work on both transportation rules and indicated that additional guidance will be available.

There was no Superintendents report and no Chair’s report.            

The next meeting will be August 24 & 25, 2022.

06/16 - June State Board Meetings

June State Board Meetings
by Angela Palm on 6/16/2022

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The State Board of Education held called meetings June 9th and 10th and its regular meetings yesterday and today. 

The called meetings were to reconsider its vote on the charter renewal for the Museum School of Avondale Estates.  A motion to approve the charter failed 8-6 in April.  The vote to reconsider was unanimous; the vote to approve the charter was 7-7; the vote to deny it was also 7-7 so neither motion passed. 

The Committee meetings held yesterday followed the agenda for the Committee of the Whole. 

Rules Committee 

Most items on the Committee's agenda were approved to go on the consent agenda for the State Board meeting.  The adoption of the amended Dual Enrollment rule was held for a separate vote as rule adoptions always are.  The proposed amendment to the Board's bylaws was pulled for further discussion.  

Chairman Jason Downey asked Parliamentarian Matt Donaldson to review the bylaws.  He would like to have at least one Board meeting outside Atlanta.  State law was changed in 2011 to allow them to do so.  The question was raised as to whether there is a conflict within the bylaws.  Board members will provide more input and bring the item back late this summer.

Six sets of standards were moved forward for adoption.  Public comments received were mostly positive for them. The transportation rules were back for updating, and this time made it through all the meetings and are now initiated.  The current rule on contracted transportation services will be repealed.  New State Board rules on the use of alternative vehicles for the transport of specified student groups and for contracted transportation services were initiated.   State Board rules are required to lay on the table for at least 30 days for public review before adoption.  If anyone would like to submit comments, the email address is policy@doe.k12.ga.us.

The Committee also considered the model policy for the Protect Students First Act (HB 1084).  The statute required the State Board to develop a model policy by July 1, 2022 and the Department to follow up with guidance.  Since this is a model policy not a State Board rule, it did not have to meet the 30 day review requirement. Local boards of education, by the way, are required by the statute to adopt a complaints policy for the bill by August 1, 2022.

Budget Committee 

The Budget Committee moved all 39 items on its list to the consent agenda except one.  It held out the contract with SREB for a separate vote.  Items included 15 grants, 11 contract renewals, 7 contracts, 3 contract amendments, and five-year facility plans for 55 districts. Take a quick scan of the budget items for an idea of the array of initiatives being funded.

District Flexibility & Charter School Committee  

The agenda for this Committee was short and all items were moved forward to the consent agenda. Two charters were renewed, one for four years and one for three years; another charter was extended for two years. The Committee also moved forward approval for two contracts of State Charter Schools. 

Audit Committee 

The Committee reviewed the list of high and moderate risk schools as defined in 2020's SB 68. Thirteen are considered high-risk and 10 are moderate. It was reported that some of the corrective action plans for those in the high risk category do not adequately address the factors that put them on the list.  A couple of them have repeatedly failed to provide the requested clarifying information.  Some of the superintendents of these districts have also failed to attend the financial management training required by the statute.

The Committee asked the staff to provide a more detailed report next month.   

Committee of the Whole 

The inspiration was brought by A. J. Goldman, husband of the 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year Cherie Goldman. In 2010, he sailed in the TransPac race alone from San Francisco to Hawaii.  As one might expect, sailing across the Pacific was not exactly smooth sailing! 

A public hearing was held on the proposed adoption of the amended Dual Enrollment rule.  One person spoke.  She appreciated the clarifying language about the course requirements for Option B students.

The Board built the agenda for their meeting which immediately followed.

State Board Meeting 

All items held out for a separate vote were approved unanimously:  appeal 2022-10, the amended Dual Enrollment rule, and the SREB contract. 

The Superintendent's Report included recognition of Deborah White, retiring Executive Director of GACIS, and Cherie Goldman, who is completing her term as Teacher of the Year.  Both were given Distinguished Service medals.  Superintendent Richard Woods also presented a plaque to Georgia Superintendent of the Year Dr. Noris Price who was also one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year.

Mrs. Goldman presented the report of the Teacher Burnout Task Force. The press release on the project and her powerpoint are also available. The task force included Mrs. Goldman, the nine finalists in her cohort of 2022 Teachers of the Year, teachers from PAGE, GAE, Educators First, and Department staff. The report includes recommendations to address the issues raised.

Chairman Jason Downey's Report included an update on the work around dyslexia from Jennifer Lindstrom, Statewide Dyslexia Coordinator.  Information and resources are available here. Still to come are a State Board rule, an updated informational handbook, and parent handbook.

Craig Walker from Curriculum Associates introduced Regina Hewlett Norman, one of 35 Extraordinary Educators recognized by the company this year.  Ms. Norman teaches at Liberty Point Elementary in Fulton County.  Mr. Downey also presented her with a resolution from the State Board.

We appreciate the participation of State Board members Dr. Stan DeJarnett and Mr. Frank Griffin in a panel discussion at the GSBA conference last week!

The next regular State Board meetings will be held July 20-21. 

05/11 - May State Board Meeting

May State Board Meeting
by Angela Palm on 5/11/2022

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The State Board of Education held its regular monthly meetings this week.  Wednesday was its day of Committees; the Committee of the Whole met Thursday just prior to the State Board meeting.  The meetings are also available on the Georgia Department of Education's Youtube channel.

Rules

Dr. Stephen Pruitt of SREB presented the Committee the Final Report and Recommendations of the Dyslexia Rule Review Committee. Efforts to adopt a rule for the implementation of SB 48, passed in 2019, have been ongoing -- a testament to the often complex task of moving from legislation to rules.

All items were approved to go on the consent agenda for the full Board on Thursday.  There will be 23 approved trainers for local boards. More private schools want to participate in the special needs/504 voucher program. The 2020-2021 report on the program contains a list of schools previously approved.

Two sets of standards are set to be adopted. These courses will then be added to the State-Funded List of K-8 Subjects and 9-12 Courses. Six more sets of standards are set to be posted for comment. Amendments to the rule on Dual Enrollment are being initiated. The changes will clarify the requirement for "Option B" students to complete and pass the American Government course and the Personal Finance and Economics course.  It will also update the language related to the American Literature and Composition course approved by the State Board in March 2021.

Budget 

The Committee moved through the 21 items quickly with little discussion.  They were all approved to go on the consent agenda. The items include the 2023 state salary schedule, the Department's budget, and funding for focus areas such as increasing access to CTAE programming, Dyslexia Endorsement programs, Teacher and Teacher Leader Endorsement programs, and cyber security awareness and training. See the agenda for this Committee on the Committee of the Whole linked at the top of this page.

District Flexibility & Charter Schools  

All five items were approved for the consent agenda.  They include four charter system renewals and one charter school contract amendment.

Committee of the Whole 

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Dillard provided the inspiration and led the Pledge of Allegiance.  He talked about the importance of government transparency and of educating people on government and judicial processes.  He noted school groups are beginning to tour the new Nathan Deal Judicial Center, the state's first building dedicated to the courts.

Committee chairs reported out to build the consent agenda.

State Board of Education 

The consent agenda was approved.  Almost forgotten were two legal appeals held for a separate vote.  One case was reversed and remanded to the Cobb County Board of Education with instructions to provide reasonable notice consistent with the decision and a new hearing.  The second case was reversed and remanded to the Gwinnett County Board of Education with instructions to review and consider the student's appeal including the supplemental letter. The full agenda with attachments is linked at the top of the page.

State Superintendent Richard Woods was with Governor Kemp for the signing of the 2023 budget, so Chief of Staff Matt Jones provided the Superintendent's Report. 

  • The English Language Arts (ELA) standards are being reviewed by 250 classroom ELA teachers.  The same process is being followed as with the review of the Math standards.
  • May is Teacher Appreciation Month. Supt. Woods issued a letter to teachers earlier this month to thank them for their hard work. Cherie Bonder Dennis, the 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year and ex-officio member of the State Board, was recognized.  Her year will soon be up and Michael Kobito, an AP Music Theory teacher and band director at Woodland High School in Bartow County, will take the title and position.
  • In keeping with the "Not Recovery but ReImagine" theme the State Supt. has had all year, there was a presentation on two priority areas: data privacy and security and getting more actionable data. Keith Osburn, the Department's Chief Information Officer and Deputy Superintendent for Technology Services, and his team did a presentation outlining cybersecurity training efforts and a district data dashboard.

Chairman Jason Downey led the Chair's Report.  Details for the fall retreat are being finalized.  It will be October 10-12.  Several State Board members have recently held their statutorily required annual public hearing, and a few have had a particularly good turnout. 

The next regularly scheduled meetings will be held June 15-16. 

03/25 - March State Board Report

March State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 3/25/2022

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The State Board of Education held its regular monthly meetings Wednesday and Thursday this week.  Wednesday was Committee day with Thursday being the Committee of the Whole to hear Committee reports and build the agenda for the State Board meeting that immediately followed. Discussion around two issues took up most of the time both days.  One of the challenges of open meetings is having a frank discussion among a group with diverse opinions while staying polite, professional, and on task.  Having an audience while doing the laundry is awkward at best but there you are with a live audience, a Webcast audience, and a video archive.

Rules Committee 

The three items related to transportation rules were pulled for later discussion. Everything else was moved to the consent agenda.  There was discussion around the nepotism waiver for a local board member. Some members wondered if there should be some follow up process after a waiver is granted to "make sure everything's still ok," but they were reminded that a waiver will have to be requested at qualifying for re-election and further promotion of a family member.

Audit Committee  

Deputy State Auditor Kristina Turner updated the Committee on the work the Department of Audits (DOAA) and the Department of Education have done with the US Department of Education to clarify issues around the use of the federal pandemic funds.  Districts may use the funds for any continuity of service previously budgeted for. DOAA has been working with districts on categorizing the expenditures.  

There was concern districts were missing opportunities to address learning loss by charging funds to general operations.  Additionally, districts run the risk of not being able to meet the maintenance of effort requirements under IDEA if large sums are shifted into general operations.  They do not plan to issue audit findings for charging items to general operations but they will test expenditures to make sure the consolidated approval process was followed or it is specifically listed as an allowable use for the relief funds. 

The Committee also received an update on the districts considered moderate and high risk under SB 68 (2020). DOAA has been slow to get the audits done because of the work around the use of the relief funds.  They expect to complete the 2021 reports by the end of June.  The Department of Education staff is following up on the action plans submitted by four districts to get more specificity on actions that will be taken.

Budget Committee 

The Committee had 34 items to consider and 32 sailed through with approval to go on the consent agenda.  The other two were grants from the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund II for dyslexia screening and professional development.  In 2019, passage of SB 48 required a three year pilot to screen students in K-3 with risk factors for dyslexia beginning in the 2020-21 school year.  It becomes a statewide requirement in 2024-25.  The Dyslexia Rule Review Committee has been working on the rule to implement this.  Their final meeting will be March 31st.  There was concern among some Board members that these grants would put "the cart before the horse."  They wanted to make sure everything would merge and align when it is all completed.  The two items were held out for a separate vote on Thursday.

A Board member asked if they could hold or table the item since it is for next year, then they would be able to get more information.  As concern about the districts' choices for screeners continued to be brought up, another Board member reminded them that the State Board sets standards and makes available best practices but they do not approve curriculum or screeners. That is a local procurement process. $4.7 million was approved 13-1 for districts participating in the Georgia Regional Dyslexia Initiative.

The second item, $4.7 million for the 14 district consortium that is part of the Regional Dyslexia Initiative to acquire a dyslexia screening tool and professional support for its use, ran into the same issues as the item above. An amendment was made to make the effective date 30 days out so the Review Committee could complete its work. It passed 10-4 and the item was adopted as amended.

District Flexibility & Charter Schools Committee 

All but one item on this agenda moved quickly and were approved to go on the consent agenda.  The charter renewal for the Museum School of Avondale Estates, however, did not.  There was a lengthy discussion Wednesday and Thursday. The discussion around this was continued from last month when representatives from the school addressed the Committee regarding their issues with their local district.  They would prefer to become a state charter but the local district has to deny their petition first under state law.  Barring that, they want a five year charter renewal but the district is offering only three years.  DeKalb County was invited to address the Committee but they sent a letter instead.  On Thursday, the Superintendent, staff members, and attorneys joined virtually to answer questions. 

A number of issues have been raised about the approval process, and State Board members have suggested they need to talk with legislators to close the gaps or clarify some things.  In the meantime, some State Board members are struggling with what options they have while others seem clear on the statute.  Over the two days, they asked three lawyers for their opinion but none of the three are their attorney so wisely declined.  Their attorney is in the Attorney General's office.  A motion to make their approval of the charter contingent upon the school signing it passed 8-6.  After more discussion a motion to table it until they get guidance from the Attorney General's office passed 10-4.

Superintendent's Report 

State Superintendent Richard Woods and Teacher of the Year Cherie Bonder Dennis discussed teacher burnout and a retreat that was held around the issue.  The Vinson Institute facilitated it and will issue a report.  Hopefully it will be shared with legislators as many do not seem to understand the impact their words and bills have on those working in our schools.

Chair's Report 

Chairman Jason Downey reviewed some upcoming events.  Dr. Stephen Pruitt, President of SREB, updated the Board on the work of the Dyslexia Rule Review Committee.  He also gave them some background on his organization for those unfamiliar with its work.

Parliamentarian Matt Donaldson reported on his review of the bylaws.  Department of Education General Counsel reminded the Board that if they choose to hold some meetings outside Atlanta, they will need to make sure there is space and technology available to allow the public to participate.  They will also need to decide the effective date of any changes.

The next scheduled meeting for the State Board will be May 11-12 as there is no April meeting.  There may be a called meeting before May, however. 

03/24 - March State Board Report

March State Board Report
by Justin Pauly on 3/24/2022

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02/18 - February State Board Report

February State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 2/18/2022

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The State Board of Education held its regular monthly meetings on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Wednesday is Committee day so let's start there.  Items for the Committee meetings can be found on the agenda for the Committee of the Whole.

Rules Committee 

The new transparency rule initiated last month at the request of State Superintendent Richard Woods is on hold until after the legislative session due to several similar proposals making their way through the General Assembly.

The Committee discussed the Work-based Learning rule up for adoption and a resolution recognizing CTAE month and the work going on in that area. Please take a look at the resolution and the numbers of students participating in the wide variety of opportunities that are being created for them, so the next time somebody criticizes schools for not preparing students for the future, you have some facts for them.

They also discussed a request for a school board member in Chattooga to remain on the board as part of the required waiver process for school board members under the nepotism statute. 

The rule adoption as always was held for a separate vote; the other items went to the consent agenda.

Budget Committee 

All budget items were placed on the consent agenda. Federal funds are coming in handy to support education priorities in the state.  In the continuing efforts focused on rural districts, the state is contracting with Frontline Education to assist 31 districts in the Chattahoochee/Flint and Southwest RESAs with recruitment and hiring processes. The focus on literacy also was apparent in a grant to 10 school districts for multi-sensory reading instruction training for teachers of students with disabilities and other struggling readers. Another grant to 31 LEAs will help them meet the needs outlined in their improvement plans to address closing the gap and making progress in literacy.


District Flexibility & Charter Schools Committee 

The Committee sent all six of their items to the consent agenda.  Those included amending the charter system contract for one district, renewing another charter system and charter school, and granting a charter for a grades 9-12 school. Ten charter school amendments were sent forward to include the two-party agreements between the local board and the charter school for the provision of in-kind services for federal funds for which the charter is eligible. As a tsunami of strategic waiver system contracts near renewal, 130 districts' contracts were amended to extend their contract terms by two years, with an end date of June 30, 2024 or 2025.

The Museum School of Avondale Estates sent a request to address the State Board so were provided the opportunity to address this Committee.  At issue is the contract renewal as a local charter and coming to agreement with the school district as to terms.  The lease of the charter school's building is also part of the disagreement.  Since they can't come to terms (so far anyway) with the district, they would like to apply to the State Charter Schools Commission.  It seems that the law is not clear about what constitutes a denial in this area.  They can not go to the State unless the local board denies the application.

They indicated they have been unable to get a meeting with the district to work things out or end it, so they want the State Board to help but the authority to do so is not immediately apparent.  The school district will be invited to address the Committee at its next meeting to tell their side of the story.

By the way, anyone can request to appear before the Board.  The rules for doing so are in Article 8 of the Board's bylaws

Audit Committee 

This Committee did not meet this month.  State Board Chair Jason Downey indicated they will meet next month.

Committee of the Whole 

Eleventh Congressional District State Board member Scott Johnson introduced this month's guest for the inspiration. Kevin Paul Scott, author of The Lens, Nine Shifts in a Leader's Perspective and other books, offered a prayer, led the Pledge of Allegiance, and some words of wisdom.  His primary message was "how we view things changes how we do things."

A public hearing was held on the Work-based Learning rule.  Lisa Morgan, President of GAE, spoke.

Chairs of Committees reported out to build the consent agenda.

State Board Meeting 

The Board adopted the consent agenda and the proposed amendments to the rule on Work-Based Learning. 

The Superintendent's Report focused on CTAE.  Dr. Barbara Wall, State CTAE Director, presented the improvements in the program in FY '22 including the revised middle school CTAE courses and the entrepreneurship framework included in all CTAE courses now.  Quite a few CTAE Directors from districts were present and recognized for their work.

The Chairman's Report included remarks from State Auditor Greg Griffin on the attempts to get guidance from the US Department of Education on the use of COVID funds.  Griffin mentioned that some districts have charged entire salaries to ESSER funds, finding that not to be reasonable or necessary.  His Department is working with districts on this and other items to avoid issuing audit findings. There was also discussion around the deadline for using the funds.

Miranda Bradford, Governor Kemp's K-12 Education Policy Advisor, presented a legislative update on the Governor's initiatives.  

  • HB 385, the return to work bill for 30 year veterans, passed the House and is in Senate Retirement.   
  • The Parents' Bill of Rights is both HB 1178 and SB 449.  She indicated these bills were drafted with the input of educators, administrators, and parents. (Note: The House bill is scheduled to be heard in Subcommittee Wednesday morning.  The Senate bill was amended and voted out of Committee earlier this week, and is on the Senate calendar Tuesday for a floor vote.)
  • SB 514, opting out of mask mandates in schools, was done as parents are the best deciders on their children's health needs.

Mrs. Bradford said the Governor is supportive of other measures on obscene materials and divisive concepts but the legislature is taking the lead on them.

Fourteenth Congressional District State Board member Phenna Petty introduced Dale Alexander who gave remarks about the importance of starting to save young.

Board members were invited to make comments.  Vice-Chair Stan DeJarnett thanked the General Assembly and the Governor for the support for education in the amended and FY '23 budgets.

Chairman Downey announced he is forming an ad hoc Committee on Governmental Affairs to serve the remainder of the session.  They will be proactive, report back to the Board, poll Board members for reaction to legislation etc.  He did not announce members but based on the line headed to him after the meeting he has no shortage of volunteers.  He closed his remarks by emphasizing that they are a team -- the State Board, Department of Education, and the Governor's Office.

The meeting was adjourned.  Their next meeting is scheduled for March 23-24.  

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.