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School officials say hello to new super

Special to SEGAZINE

1 BOETeachers and several other school system employees will be adding a planning day to the end of the year to help make up hours lost during February’s flooding which forced the system to close school for two days.

The board approved an adjusted work schedule at Monday night’s regular meeting that will allow teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, book keepers, custodians and administrators to make up one day as a planning period on May 30.  The additional day will be made up using documented time working while out of the office doing jobs such as tutoring children.

Meanwhile department directors will be given leeway to set up their own plans for employees who need to make up days and don’t fall under the other category.

Students, on the other hand, will not have to make up the two days.

However, board member David Herrin voted against the schedule explaining that he would rather see teachers working in the classroom instead of adding a  planning day.

Herrin cited a $16,000 deficit by which he said the school system was “in the red” last year as part of the reason he was cautious of leaving the pay for the two days in the schedule.  Herrin said the two days alone would cost the county about $220,000 and that he was concerned about taxpayer money.

“We gave up two instructional days where we actually taught kids and I asked Thursday for it to be considered that we hold onto these two days and maybe have two less furlough days next year where we actually have kids in the classroom,” Herrin said.

School officials countered that if they were to cut those two days out of the remaining school year, it would have an extremely detrimental effect on their paychecks and on overall employee moral after having already dealt with and worked through several budget cuts.

Teachers in the audience also said that that staffing cuts have forced them to cover classrooms during their existing planning periods and that the additional planning day is needed – especially considering major curriculum changes.

In addition to modifying the existing calendar, the school board also approved the calendar for the 2014 school year which already has five furlough days in place, though assistant superintendent Greg Jacobs said that more or fewer days could be needed depending on the financial situation of the school system in the coming year.

The furlough days will be split and distributed throughout the calendar with two days being on Dec. 19 and 20 and two more being held on Feb. 18 and 19. The remaining day will be placed after graduation on a planning day on May 29.

The calendar also has students starting back to school on Aug. 7 and returning from Christmas break on Jan. 8, 2014 after a 20 day hiatus.

The meeting also served as an introduction to two officials who were involved in their first meeting that night.

Both Superintendent Anthony Smith and new school board attorney Tracy Altman were recognized at the start of the night by chairwoman Dot Hickox who also thanked Read Carter for holding the interim superintendent’s post for several months in addition to his regular duties.

In other business, the board:

•  Approved the carpet cleaning bid of 5,435.80 from ServPro.

*  Approved the carpet and tile bid from Nahunta business Ashley Floors for $6,349 to carpet and tile the new band room at BCHS.

•  Approved the purchase of AV Rover 3-D projectors for BCHS Healthcare to be paid out of a healthcare capital equipment grant awarded to BCHS in 2012

•  Approved the cost of $5,790 from the Apple Store for 10 ipads for special education classes.

•  $1,215 from SchoolTech Suppliers to purchase five computers for the alternative school.

*  Approved the BCHS fundraiser list with one addition.

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