State Board Reports

06/16 - June State Board Report and Other Happenings

June State Board Report and Other Happenings
by Angela Palm on 6/16/2017

This was a busy week for the State Board and the Department of Education.

What's the Plan? 

draft of the state plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was posted yesterday afternoon for public comment.  I encourage districts to have at least one person read the plan and think through any implications for your flexibility contract and any other impact on your district.  The plan was written to try to get our various improvement and accountability efforts working together to support student achievement.  That's not the easiest thing to do when they were all created separately. 

For those unfamiliar with the process, the U.S. Department of Education provided a template with questions that each state had to answer and that is what you will see in the plan.  That, however, is not all we will be doing to continue to strengthen our education system.  The plan was also written to try to leave as much flexibility for future decisions as possible. One person's flexibility is another person's vagueness, however, so FYI.

There is also a link to an index so you can find specific topics and a video is coming June 27th.  An online survey is available to provide feedback.  

Turnaround Bill Being Implemented 

Implementation of HB 338, the First Priority Act or "Plan B," has begun. The State Board created a First Priority Act Committee, chaired by Barbara Hampton.  The Committee reviewed the legislation and discussed its responsibilities. They plan to meet each month and will interview the CTO candidates.  

In its meeting, the State Board authorized the chair (Mike Royal) to receive information and determine a suitable vendor for the national search for a Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO). The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) has offered to do the search.  As a membership organization, they will charge less than an executive search firm.  There is no hard deadline set for hiring the CTO but they would like to do it as soon as possible.  The turnaround process will be in place for the 2018-19 school year. 

The Education Turnaround Advisory Council, created in HB 338, held its first meeting yesterday afternoon.  See lines 326-364 of the bill for the members and duties of the Council.  Dr. Jimmy Stokes, executive director of GAEL, was named chairman by the Council members.  The Council recommended that Mike Royal pursue having NASBE do the search.  The next meeting will be a conference call on July 14th.

State Board Meeting 

The State Board held its two days of meetings June 14-15.  Committee meetings were held on day one while the Committee of the Whole and official State Board meeting were held on day two.

Yesterday's Board meeting was mostly handled by a consent agenda. 

Separate action items included:

  • The State Board adopted portions of the 2018 budget: "the budgeted personal services amount for all programs and one-twelfth of all remaining program appropriations.  All state-funded grant programs such as the Quality Basic Education program are adopted in their entirety.  Individual exceptions to this resolution may be approved at the discretion of the Budget Committee."  They are reviewing all budget items and have not completed their review.
  • They adopted the amended Virtual School rule.
  • After a report from General Counsel on the public notice given on the GNETS rules, the Board voted to repeal the existing rule and adopt the new one.
  • They reversed local board decision 2017-36. 

Committee of the Whole 

Prior to the State Board meeting they met as a Committee of the Whole.  Pratt & Whitney was recognized for their partnerships with Muscogee, Chattahoochee, and Harris counties plus the Columbus Technical College.  Their focus is the certified manufacturing specialist program.  10% of their workforce, with an average pay of $24 per hour, came from this program.  

A public hearing was held on amending the Virtual School rule, repealing the existing GNETS rule, and adopting a new GNETS rule.  Four people spoke against the GNETS rule, apparently liking neither of them. Three opposed the GNETS program and PBIS (positive behavior intervention services).  The last speaker recognized a need for a system but wanted the state to run it and make sure there is a therapeutic component.  Two speakers complained about a technical glitch in the posting of the rules and claimed the state failed to meet the requirements for public notice.

Superintendent's Report 

The 2018 Teacher of the Year is John Tibbetts, an economics teacher from Worth County High School.

There was an update from Dr. Barbara Wall on the Employability Skills Task Force.  Ellen Cushing from the American Institute of Research also spoke.

There was a report on the Georgia Insights Initiative to put data into context.  Stephen Owens showed the School Climate Dashboard which will be on the website by the end of the month.  There is no new data or expense -- they are just trying to make the data they have more useful and available.

Chair's Report 

We will soon have a "One Stop Shop for Teachers."  It is an effort to combine the Georgia standards site with the teacher resources.  Designed by teachers, it will roll out in July.  It started with K-5 and other grades will be added.

Congratulations to all -- 2.9 million assessments were administered, 85% of them online.  95% of the end-of-grade assessments were held without interruption; 97% of the end-of-course tests were.  The preparedness of districts was noted.

There was an update on the consolidated funds pilot.  Fourteen districts will participate next year.

The next meeting of the State Board will be July 19-20.   

05/04 - May State Board Report

May State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 5/4/2017

The State Board of Education held its regular meetings May 3-4.  On May 3rd, several Committees of the Board met.  Agendas and other documents are available here.  Here is information from some of the Committees.

The Audit Committee met with representatives from Randolph County to discuss their financial issues and their next steps.  They received an update from State Auditor Greg Griffin on the status of financial documents from the Dublin school district and discussed other matters. If your district's financial house is not in order, better get started on it or you too may be meeting with this Committee. 

The Rules Committee discussed changes to the GNETS rules, energy systems courses, arts standards, and other items.  We have over 400 courses in the arts areas now and have our first two STEAM certified schools.  Staff gave an update on ESSA efforts in assessment and accountability.  In discussing assessment requirements, they noted that we have an increasing number of middle schoolers taking high school courses.  The largest number is in math, then science, and third is literature.  Changes to the CCRPI were also discussed.  All this is in preparation for the state plan to implement ESSA.

The District Flexibility Committee had Superintendents from Muscogee, Bibb, Clayton, and Cobb come to do accountability discussions with them.  All the districts had schools that beat the odds for five or more years and schools that scored below 60 for three or more years.  The Committee wanted to know what they were doing to replicate the success of the higher performing schools at the lower performing ones and how they were using their flexibility contracts to improve student achievement.

The State Board met as a Committee of the Whole on today then went into their regular meeting.  No one spoke at the public hearing on the adoption of changes to  State Board rule on the Identification and Reporting of Schools.  They then set the consent agenda for the Board meeting.

The Superintendent's Report included a presentation on Tobacco Free Schools, notice that it is Star Wars Day, Teacher Appreciation Month, and National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day.  State Board members received an update on the work of all committees working on the state ESSA plan.  They recognized the work of Matt Cardoza as he moves from the Department of Education to the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

The Chair's Report was brief. Teacher of the Year Casey Bethel spoke in recognition of its being Teacher Appreciation Month.  Now that HB 338, the First Priority Act, has been signed, a Subcommittee of the State Board will be named to work on the implementation.  It will be chaired by 6th District State Board member Barbara Hampton.  Other members will be named later.  The first meeting of the Education Turnaround Advisory Council has been tentatively set for June 15th at 1:30.  Next month the Board will have a presentation by Dr. Melissa Fincher on a study that has been done on the validity and reliability of the MileStones assessments.

In the State Board meeting, they had eight separate votes and everything else was put on the consent agenda.  One item was added to the agenda.

  1. The State Board adopted the state salary schedule which now reflects the 2% raise included in the FY '18 budget.  There was acknowledgment that not all certified personnel will receive a 2% raise in total as most salaries include a local supplement that may not be raised by that amount.  The flexibility contracts that give districts discretion in deciding compensation were also mentioned.
  2. State Board rule 160-5-1-.03 Identification and Reporting of Schools was adopted.
  3. Current State Board rule 160-4-7-.15 on GNETS was repealed.
  4. State Board rule 160-4-7-.15 on GNETS was initiated for review and public comment.  For those wondering why they repealed it instead of changing it, their practice is that if it has more red than black with the changes, they repeal it and start over.  State Board Chair Mike Royal highlighted all the work that has been done by staff for the students in the GNETS program.
  5. They reversed local board decision 2017-19.
  6. They reversed in part local board decision 2017-21 and confirmed it in part.
  7. They reversed local board decision 2017-23.
  8. The State Board approved an MOA between the Department of Community Health and the Department of Education to disburse Medicaid allocations to school districts to enhance school nursing services at a cost of $0.00.  They made clear that this is not an expansion of Medicaid.  It will allow Medicaid funds to be pulled down for school nurses and help particularly in the rural areas, resulting in nearly $50 million more for school nurses.  This item had been pulled from the February agenda but was added to this month.  In February, a PowerPoint and board item explained this plan more. Presumably the details are still the same but we offer no guarantee on that.

The State Board will next meet June 14-15. 

04/04 - March State Board Report

March State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 4/4/2017

The State Board of Education held its regular meetings March 29th and 30th.  Board members brought recommendations from their Wednesday Committee meetings to the Committee of the Whole on Thursday.

As part of Superintendent Richard Woods' Report, Chief of Staff Matt Jones did a presentation on the Department's "Comprehensive Approach to Supporting All Schools." In addition to the work the Department is doing, he highlighted the data resources available from Family Connections including county profiles and finding comparable counties.

Chairman Mike Royal's Report included an update from Hall County on the new reading and math courses.  There is a lot of interest in this as 70 districts have contacted them for information.  Martha Ann Todd, Executive Director of the Office of Student Achievement, reported on the "Real Teachers. Real Voices." campaign.  One of the recommendations from the Reform Commission involved a marketing campaign to promote the teaching profession.  The Teachers' Advisory Committee formed later recommended that the campaign use actual teachers speaking about their work rather than hiring a professional marketing group.  You can access the one minute videos here.  More will be made, but take a minute or three to listen to some.

Dr. Todd also reported on the Teacher and Leader Workforce Report released in January.  They pulled information from several sources to try to put it all in one place.  Highlights from the report are available here.  The full report is here. A couple of the interesting findings:  almost half the teachers had ten or less years' experience; about 10% of the teachers and 10% of the leaders had changed schools from the previous year.  She also demonstrated use of the "Schools Like Mine" website.  Users  can select  a school and two student characteristics, then the six closest matches will come up to compare data.

The National State Boards of Education (NASBE) is tracking what is trending on State Board agendas across the U.S. and provides other information here. The Chairman said the organization is starting to play a larger role.

The State Board held public hearings for all five rule changes up for adoption then adopted the consent agenda and the rule changes.  They reversed a local board decision based on procedural issues.  The Board also authorized the Chair to enter into a consent agreement to continue the hearing on the Hancock Board of Education until August.  AdvancEd requested they delay until the review team makes their May visit so those findings could be included in the hearing.

The next meeting of the State Board will be May 3-4. 

02/27 - February State Board Report

February State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 2/27/2017

The State Board of Education held its regular meetings on February 22-23.  

Committees met on Wednesday, February 22nd; both the meeting of the Committee of the Whole and the meeting of the State Board were held the following day. Click on the link to see the Consent Agenda.  Nothing was pulled out for separate action.

First Lady Sandra Deal and four-year-old Daliyah Arana provided the inspiration as the Board celebrated Daliyah's reading 2200 books.  She showed off her reading skills, and her parents talked about how they helped her learn to read. 

Changes to the charter rules have been initiated.  The proposals and process for commenting can be found here.

Avis King, Deputy Superintendent of the Office of School Improvement, did a presentation on the Department's work with academically challenged schools and districts. The System of Continuous Improvement defines an effective school and provides a single framework for all schools.  Over 80 low-performing schools do not meet the federal guidelines to receive services, but the Department offered professional development funds that a third of the districts did not take.  There was also a discussion of HB 338 which would allow the State Board to hire a Chief Turnaround Officer among other things.  State Board Chair Mike Royal said, "if the system does nothing, the State Board will."

Martha Ann Todd, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, reported on the 2016 Answer Change Analysis -- formerly known as the Erasure Change Analysis.

The State Board voted to hold a hearing on the Hancock County School Board due to its accreditation status on May 4th at 1 PM.

The next meeting of the State Board will be March 29-30. 

01/12 - January State Board Report

January State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 1/12/2017

The State Board of Education held its January meetings on Wednesday and Thursday.  The agenda for the Committee of the Whole is here.  The FY '17 School Improvement Grant was pulled for a separate vote, but everything else moved to the consent agenda.

Two new Board members were welcomed.  Outgoing State Board member Brian Burdette gave the inspiration.

Reports and Presentations 

Department of Education staff made presentations to the Board on Building K-5 Foundations Skills and Algebraic Thinking, a K-5 support package on numeracy, and career coaching as part of Superintendent Richard Woods' report.  

Mike Royal's Chair Report included a discussion on supporting academically challenged schools and districts, how the School Improvement division is working with them, and why some are not improving.  Reasons given included incoherence, lack of ownership, low expectations, ineffective use of staff time, and poor quality staff.  To improve, the staff said the schools and districts need coherence, limited goals and initiatives, stable leadership, quality teaching, adults owning all the students, and they need to use the "Systems Framework for Continuous Improvement."

State Board member Barbara Hampton said education groups should be included in the school improvement process and be held accountable. A Solutions Summit is being planned by the Department of Education and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education to address some of these issues.

Hancock County

The school board of Hancock County was put on the status of Accredited Under Review and granted a continuance last year.  The State Board discussed their next steps in the case and decided to await further information from the district before moving forward.

NOTE:  All school board members should make sure they know and remain aware of the AdvancEd Standards for Quality, especially Standard 2 on Governance and Leadership.  It is the perceived failure to meet these standards that will trigger a hearing before the State Board and possibly removal from office.

The next meetings of the State Board will be held February 22-23. 

12/13 - State Action December 2016

State Action December 2016
by Angela Palm on 12/13/2016

The State Board of Education had a light load this month and were probably glad for a breather.  A one-day meeting was held Thursday, December 8th.

The State Board adopted the amended Rule 160-5-1-.28 Student Enrollment and Withdrawal. They also adopted the standards for three courses, set their 2017 calendar, and elected officers for 2017.  Congratulations to returning Chair Mike Royal, Vice-Chair Scott Johnson, and Vice-Chair for Appeals Kevin Boyd.

The complete agenda is available here

The next meeting of the State Board will be January 11-12, 2017.

Information Resources 

The Georgia Department of Education has a great communications resource on their website, Educating Georgia's Future 2016.  Did you know almost 59% of Georgia's public school students rely on school-provided transportation?  That over 15,000 Microsoft certifications were earned by our teachers and students in 2016?  That we received an "A" in teaching financial literacy?  That students who complete a CTAE career pathway have a 95% graduation rate?  Or that over 21,000 students completed a Fine Arts Pathway in 2016?

If you don't know much about the State Schools for the Blind and Deaf, the Department has a great video overview. 

State Action December 2016
by Angela Palm on 12/13/2016

The State Board of Education had a light load this month and were probably glad for a breather.  A one-day meeting was held Thursday, December 8th.

The State Board adopted the amended Rule 160-5-1-.28 Student Enrollment and Withdrawal. They also adopted the standards for three courses, set their 2017 calendar, and elected officers for 2017.  Congratulations to returning Chair Mike Royal, Vice-Chair Scott Johnson, and Vice-Chair for Appeals Kevin Boyd.

The complete agenda is available here

The next meeting of the State Board will be January 11-12, 2017.

Information Resources 

The Georgia Department of Education has a great communications resource on their website, Educating Georgia's Future 2016.  Did you know almost 59% of Georgia's public school students rely on school-provided transportation?  That over 15,000 Microsoft certifications were earned by our teachers and students in 2016?  That we received an "A" in teaching financial literacy?  That students who complete a CTAE career pathway have a 95% graduation rate?  Or that over 21,000 students completed a Fine Arts Pathway in 2016?

If you don't know much about the State Schools for the Blind and Deaf, the Department has a great video overview. 

12/13 - State Action December 2016

State Action December 2016
by Angela Palm on 12/13/2016

The State Board of Education had a light load this month and were probably glad for a breather.  A one-day meeting was held Thursday, December 8th.

The State Board adopted the amended Rule 160-5-1-.28 Student Enrollment and Withdrawal. They also adopted the standards for three courses, set their 2017 calendar, and elected officers for 2017.  Congratulations to returning Chair Mike Royal, Vice-Chair Scott Johnson, and Vice-Chair for Appeals Kevin Boyd.

The complete agenda is available here

The next meeting of the State Board will be January 11-12, 2017.

Information Resources 

The Georgia Department of Education has a great communications resource on their website, Educating Georgia's Future 2016.  Did you know almost 59% of Georgia's public school students rely on school-provided transportation?  That over 15,000 Microsoft certifications were earned by our teachers and students in 2016?  That we received an "A" in teaching financial literacy?  That students who complete a CTAE career pathway have a 95% graduation rate?  Or that over 21,000 students completed a Fine Arts Pathway in 2016?

If you don't know much about the State Schools for the Blind and Deaf, the Department has a great video overview. 

State Action December 2016
by Angela Palm on 12/13/2016

The State Board of Education had a light load this month and were probably glad for a breather.  A one-day meeting was held Thursday, December 8th.

The State Board adopted the amended Rule 160-5-1-.28 Student Enrollment and Withdrawal. They also adopted the standards for three courses, set their 2017 calendar, and elected officers for 2017.  Congratulations to returning Chair Mike Royal, Vice-Chair Scott Johnson, and Vice-Chair for Appeals Kevin Boyd.

The complete agenda is available here

The next meeting of the State Board will be January 11-12, 2017.

Information Resources 

The Georgia Department of Education has a great communications resource on their website, Educating Georgia's Future 2016.  Did you know almost 59% of Georgia's public school students rely on school-provided transportation?  That over 15,000 Microsoft certifications were earned by our teachers and students in 2016?  That we received an "A" in teaching financial literacy?  That students who complete a CTAE career pathway have a 95% graduation rate?  Or that over 21,000 students completed a Fine Arts Pathway in 2016?

If you don't know much about the State Schools for the Blind and Deaf, the Department has a great video overview. 

11/04 - State Action November 2016

State Action November 2016
11/4/2016

It's time to catch up on several topics.  Sorry the last item is so long, but it's important.

State Board of Education 

The State Board of Education completed its two-day meeting yesterday. All items were moved to a consent agenda except for the following: 

  • Proposed changes to State Board rules 160-3-1-.07 Testing Programs - Student Assessment and 160-4-2-.34 Dual Enrollment -- Move On When Ready.  No one spoke to the proposed changes in the public hearing and the State Board voted to adopt both.
  • Amending State Board bylaws to allow meetings outside Atlanta -- this aligns the bylaws with a change made in statute a few years ago
  • Posting two new courses that will first be used in a pilot next semester in Hall County if approved next month.  Post Secondary Math and English would serve as course alternatives to current requirements.  They are not designed as a less rigorous choice or alternative pathway.  Students have to meet certain criteria to be included in the courses.  Standards for the courses are aligned with secondary and postsecondary courses to ensure the students could place in a postsecondary class.  
  • Reversing local board decision 2017-01

The State Board will next meet for a one day meeting on December 8th. Committee meetings will start at 10 AM; the Committee of the Whole at 1 PM.  

Following the State Board meeting, they convened to hold a hearing on the Dooly County Board of Education in accordance with 20-2-73(a).  For those unfamiliar with the process, state law requires the State Board to hold a hearing when a district or school "is placed on the level of accreditation immediately preceding loss of accreditation for school board governance related reasons by one or more accrediting agencies." The State Board voted unanimously to recommend to the Governor that he suspend all five members of the Dooly Board.  The Governor will render his decision and, if he removes them from office, name replacements that meet the qualifications for serving on the Board.

ESSA State Plan 

The Department of Education has all the information related to development of the new state plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) posted here.  They completed their public feedback sessions last night. The online survey is still available, and they would like to get as much feedback as possible.

On the right side of the ESSA page, the Committees are listed.  Clicking on the Committee name will take you to the information and summaries from their meetings.  Committee members are also online if you wish to contact them about a particular area.

Summaries of comments from two of the feedback sessions are also listed in the right hand menu under "Information and Resources."  The timeline for the work is at the bottom of the page.

Education Reform Commission Update 

You may recall that the Governor appointed a 90 member Teacher Advisory Committee to review the Education Reform Commission recommendations and give him feedback.  The Committee, chaired by Rep. Amy Carter, has submitted its final report. The Governor and his staff will consider these comments as they develop legislation for the next session.  If you can't find time to read the 13 page report, be sure to read the Executive Summary to get up to date with this process.

As you meet with your legislators before the session, let them know that there currently is no inflation factor proposed for the new formula.  If they move forward with having each district create its own teacher compensation time, ask them to ensure enough lead time for districts to carefully and thoughtfully create one before implementation.  This isn't one of those things that can be thrown together. 

The 3% Raise Controversy 

In recent news stories, it was reported that there is anger in some quarters that the local boards did not give a 3% raise to teachers "as they were supposed to do."  So let's do a bit of a review here. On January 13th, the Governor gave his State of the State Address and included this:  

Over the past five years, members of this General Assembly and I have shown our appreciation for our teachers by making public education a priority, and we will do so again this year by appropriating an additional $300 million for k-12 education, which is more than is required to give teachers a three percent pay raise. 

We will distribute this money to your local school system under the existing QBE formula, but it is our intention that your local school system pass the three percent pay raise along to you. If that does not happen, it will make it more difficult next year for the state to grant local systems more flexibility in the expenditure of state education dollars, as recommended by the Education Reform Commission. 

We have given local school systems large increases in funding for the past three years and given them the flexibility to decide how to spend it. Based on a survey by the State Department of Education, 94 percent of school systems used those funds to reduce or eliminate furlough days. With the additional funding this year, furloughs should be a thing of the past and teachers should receive that three percent pay raise. 

The FY '17 budget contained a $300 million appropriation to "Increase funds to offset the austerity reduction in order to provide local education authorities the flexibility to eliminate teacher furlough days, increase instructional days, and increase teacher salaries."  According to the 2017 Formula Adjustment Survey Results Summary, 71 districts (40%) reported giving a one-time salary supplement and 72 (40%) reported giving a salary increase. The others reduced or eliminated furloughs or provided step increases only.  That sounds like the local boards followed the budgetary language.

Surveys on the use of the funds added to the budget to reduce the austerity cut each of the last three years are available here. We would also point out that the funds were reducing the cut to the funding of the QBE formula. We are still making our way back to the state being able to fund its portion, but that is expected to happen in FY '18.  Back in the day, salary increases were appropriations in addition to the state portion of the QBE grant.  Those days may be gone, but it is still a formula.  

It is based on the FTE counts and a beginning teacher's salary (additional funds for experience and degrees are a separate calculation) and includes funding for guidance counselors at 1 per 450 FTEs, psychologists and social workers at 1 per 2,475 FTEs, media personnel and materials, and other costs.  The numbers are plugged in to get the total which is then split between the local five mill share from school districts and the state.  

Salary and benefits for teachers are by far the largest part of the total generated.  When the state can not pay its portion, the district must pay from local funds, increase class sizes to eliminate teachers, eliminate classes, or decrease the number of days in the work year.  In the aftermath of the economic collapse, all those things were done.  

Gov. Deal entered office with the state in a terrible place financially.  As we have said before, he stopped increasing the austerity cuts that Gov. Perdue instituted in 2003 and started filling in the hole as soon as the state revenue began to rise.  In FY '15, we asked that the austerity reduction be appropriated so that the districts could use it to do what they needed to do.  The first priority was to get the instructional time back for the students.  Adding days of work would also provide more income back to teachers.  Circumstances were different all across the state so flexibility in spending was necessary.  

IN FY '17, 35 more districts were able to eliminate furloughs so we are down to ten districts with a shortened year.  A lot of hard decisions have had to be made by the Governor, legislature, superintendents, local boards, teachers, and other staff over the past several years.  As you meet with your legislators over the next couple of months, please be sure to talk with them about the budget decisions you made.

Only 65 days till the 2017 session of the General Assembly starts -- get ready y'all! 

  

08/24 - Developing A State Plan for ESSA

Developing A State Plan for ESSA
by Angela Palm on 8/24/2016

The Georgia Department of Education plans to submit its new state accountability plan aligned with the Every Student Succeeds Act in March 2017.  To get there, they have enlisted the help of more than 150 people to serve on committees and also have a plan to involve the public.  Their initiative, "A Plan for Georgians, By Georgians," includes eight public feedback sessions.  The first one is tonight in Columbia County.  Here is the full schedule:

All meetings will be held from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

August 24: Columbia County, Columbia County Board of Education, 4781 Hereford Farm Road, Evans, GA  30809

August 29: Habersham County, Piedmont College (Student Commons Building), 375 Georgia Street, Demorest, GA 30535

September 1: Dougherty County, Dougherty Comprehensive High School, 1800 Pearce Ave, Albany, GA 31705

September 14: Fulton County, North Learning Center, 450 Northridge Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30350

September 19: Muscogee County, Northside High School, 2002 American Way, Columbus, GA 31909

October 12: Laurens County, Old West Laurens (OWL) Training Center, 338 West Laurens School Road, Dublin, GA  31021

October 13: Chatham County, Pulaski Elementary School, 1001 Tibet Avenue, Savannah, GA 31419

October 17: Gordon County, Gordon County College & Career Academy, 305 Beamer Road, Calhoun, GA 30701​ 

The Department recommends reading a one page review prior to the meeting. Comments can also be emailed to essa@doe.k12.ga.us, and a survey is planned.  NSBA has a number of resources related to ESSA here, and the Education Commission of the States has released ESSA: Quick guides to top issues for those who would like to delve into it a bit more.

Speak up between now and the end of October or forever hold your peace.

Next Education Listening Session Set 

Lots of listening going on in the state education world these days.  The House Education Committee has sponsored three so far and has set the next one for September 13th in Dublin.  Complete details are in the announcement

Amendment Number 

You probably remember there will be an important constitutional amendment on the November ballot.  There will be four actually, but the one allowing the state to take over qualifying schools will be amendment one.  The preamble and question will be:

Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?

In spite of that lovely sounding concept, remember the actual change to the Constitution will be this (emphasis mine):

"Paragraph VIII. Opportunity School District. Notwithstanding the provisions of Paragraph II of this section, the General Assembly may provide by general law for the creation of an Opportunity School District and authorize the state to assume the supervision, management, and operation of public elementary and secondary schools which have been determined to be failing through any governance model allowed by law. Such authorization shall include the power to receive, control, and expend state, federal, and local funds appropriated for schools under the current or prior supervision, management, or operation of the Opportunity School District, all in the manner provided by and in accordance with general law."

Note that there is no definition of “failing,” no limit to the number of schools that can be taken over, no limit on how long they can be held by the state, nor any requirement that they be returned to the local district in the Constitutional amendment.

If passed, it will be effective in the 2017-18 school year. Our Communications department has developed a Toolkit for your use.

Remember that under 21-2-215(g) all high school principals and assistant principals and their designees (public and private) are deputy registrars for receiving voter registration applications from eligible students and employees of the district whether they reside in the county or not.  They are required to inform the students and employees of this availability. By the way, this also applies to presidents and their designees of colleges, universities, and technical institutes.  Annual training is supposed to be provided by the board of registrars of each county. 

October 11th is the last day to register to be eligible to vote in the November election. 

08/22 - Rules Adopted at August State Board Meeting

Rules Adopted at August State Board Meeting
by Angela Palm on 8/22/2016

The State Board of Education held its regular meetings August 17th and 18th.  Agendas are available online for the Committee meetings ; Committee of the Whole; and the State Board meeting. Below are a few items of note:

Budget 

Agency budgets are due to the Governor's office September 1st.  The Governor asked all agencies to prepare budgets maintaining the FY '17 spending levels, and that is what the Department prepared and the State Board approved.  Any changes, including additions, will come through the Governor's recommendations and the legislative process.  

With the state revenue increasing, many areas -- including education -- are hoping to see funding increases in FY '18.  The Governor is once again taking a conservative approach to the budget in view of the global tensions.  There are also a number of issues that will affect the budget such as rising medical costs, rising insurance costs, and satisfying federal directives on mental health programs among other things. No one should take this as a sign that funding will remain at this level.  This is just the first step of the process that will end next March or April.

GNETS 

State Board Chair Mike Royal acknowledged a newspaper article indicating a federal lawsuit had been filed against the state regarding the GNETS program.  Shortly after last month's State Board meeting nine GNETS facilities were ordered closed due to conditions considered unsafe by the state's inspectors.  The Chairman said they are continuing to review facilities and how the students are being served in the GNETS programs whether there is a lawsuit or not, so everybody should understand they are not through yet. 

Rule Changes 

As is their custom, most items were approved through a consent agenda. Amendments to two existing State Board rules were initiated:

  • 160-5-1-.36 Local School Board Governance
  • 160-5-1-.15 Awarding Units of Credit and Acceptance of Transfer Credit And/Or Grades 

The local board governance rule is being changed to reflect the statutory change made this year and to acknowledge a different climate than the one in 2010.

FYI for anybody with a school bus gas tank dilemma, the Rules Committee held a discussion on amending the requirements for school bus specifications to allow for a 25 gallon gas tank as smaller buses can't have the now-required 30 gallon tank.

Public hearings were offered for the eight rules up for adoption but no one spoke on them.  All eight were approved by the Board:

  • 160-4-9-.04 Charter Schools and Charter Systems Definitions  
  • 160-4-9-.05 Charter Schools Petition Process   
  • 160-4-9-.06 Charter Authorizers, Financing, Management, and Governance Training  
  • 160-4-9-.07 Charter Systems   
  • 160-5-1-.33 Strategic Waivers and Title 20/No Waivers School Systems  
  • 160-4-3-.11 Extended Day Grant Program   
  • 160-4-4-.10 Learning Resources Selection and Recommendation  
  • 160-4-4-.20 Learning Resources Advisory Committee
Resolutions Adopted

The State Board added two resolutions to the agenda on Thursday -- one related to 100% tobacco free schools and the other on the commitment to literacy and foundational skills.  The gist:

"The State Board of Education promotes and encourages all local school districts to adopt the 100% Tobacco Free Schools Policy." 

"The Georgia State Board of Education calls for a renewed commitment to literacy, numeracy and K-5 foundational skills, and encourages Georgia's schools to make these areas a primary focus of the curriculum."  This focus was illustrated by a lengthy presentation on the Literacy Task Force Report and recognition of the student who read the most books in the Summer Reading Program.   

Local Board Hearing Called 

It has been a while since the State Board held a hearing to determine whether they should recommend the Governor remove a local board due to its accreditation standing on governance issues, but the State Board voted unanimously to serve a notice to Dooly County that they will do so on September 22nd.  The district's accreditation status was first reported to the State Board last fall and two continuances have been granted.

Charter Terminated 

In a hearing after the State Board meeting, the Board voted to terminate the charter of the Macon Charter Academy effective August 31st.  The school had completed one year of operation amidst a good bit of turmoil and opened this year with only 150 students.

The next meeting of the State Board is scheduled for September 21-22.