Bartow to extend school days
by Mark Andrews
Feb 27, 2014 | 2883 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bartow County Board of Education during a special called meeting on Wednesday voted 4-1 to extend school days by 27 minutes beginning March 3 for the remainder of the school year in an effort to make up four of the 7 1/2 days lost to recent inclement weather. The result will be elementary school days lasting from 7:55 a.m. to 3 p.m., and middle and high school days lasting from 8:20 a.m. to 4:10 p.m.

Superintendent John Harper explained his meeting with county educators regarding the proposal, saying elementary, middle and high school principals spoke on their ideas for how to make up the days.

“The information came from [principals] with our staff to help make sure we were doing what was appropriate within the guidelines that we knew about ...,” Harper said. “... It wasn’t me telling them what we were going to do.”

Board member Matt Shultz voted against the measure, citing the Cobb County School District’s plans to compensate for the missed days. According to a press release on www.cobbk12.org, the district will not make up the weather days, as allowed by the Georgia Department of Education, but instead will “address the snow days by utilizing all available resources to maximize remaining instructional time.”

“It seems to me like that would give our building principals and teachers the most flexibility,” Shultz said. “Even at this [board] table when we were talking about the calendar before there were arguments made that just adding minutes to the end of the day is not really usable time, so I think it’s a little bit interesting that’s the way we’re choosing to handle it.

“... It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is going to push our elementary school kids into an usually long day for them and I have concerns about a lot of the

downstream impacts of adding this time ...”

Board Chair Davis Nelson said he didn’t feel providing compensation to school system employees not working any additional days would be a good reflection of the community in regard to the use of taxpayer dollars.

“I don’t see how we can just say we’re going to pay $2.8 million to the staff. I believe I remember last fall [board member Fred] Kittle was concerned about expending $800,000 [for an expanded calender] and now we’re talking about $2.8 million and to me, that same concern should be there,” Nelson said. “We’ve got a great staff and they work hard, but we have to be responsible also to the people who pay the bill ...”

The board also approved to have the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests moved to May 9 and for the CRCT for students with Individualized Education Plans to be moved to April 25. Beyond the CRCT changes, middle school and high school testing will remain the same.

School system staff as well as transportation and school nutrition employees will make up seven days. The system’s 231-day employees will make up five days.

Following the meeting and executive session, Shultz addressed the media with concerns over the recorded minutes for the evening’s executive session.

“Mr. Kittle and I have been asking for information in a particular legal matter up until and including tonight. The remaining members of the board have refused to disclose that information to us. It is my personal view that the minutes that were presented for the executive session don’t accurately reflect the situation that occurred there this evening,” Shultz said. “I’ve done everything I can within my legal authority to try and get the information that I feel like is necessary to exercise my responsibilities on this board. To date, that hasn’t occurred and I don’t know what else to do at this point but just make the community aware of this and say we’ve done our best to make [the board] uphold their responsibilities and I have serious views at this point as to whether that has happened.”