Residents question school hiring, SACS response
Aug 14, 2012 | 2973 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two residents addressed the Bartow County Board of Education Monday, one questioning the system’s process for hiring a high school teacher and baseball coach and the other requesting the board make further inquiry toward the issues addressed in a recent complaint to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Allison Guyton referenced a job description made available in May, which said applicants are required to possess a teaching certificate and have experience coaching, but did not necessarily have to possess teaching experience, but it was preferred. She cited an email she previously sent to the board.

“It was quite obvious the system was looking to hire a high school baseball coach first and foremost, with the hopes they could also teach,” she read during the board’s regular work session. “… This is disgusting, absurd, ridiculous and demeaning to the true professionals that are in the system.”

One area described in the job posting included teaching in a special education classroom.

“[The special education] sector of our county school system has enough issues with lack of performance, there is no need to add fuel to that fire,” Guyton said. “I assure you that concerned and involved parents know who the passionate, professional teachers are and who the warm bodies are.”

Fred Warner cited documentation from SACS, including Superintendent John Harper’s responses to the allegations made to the organization. These include the use of school facilities by other organizations as well as the operation of a February board retreat in Rome.

Harper reiterated during the meeting the response from SACS, which stated, “After reviewing your response and accompanying statements regarding possible violations, AdvancED/ SACS/CASI can find no cause to result in further action.”

Warner said he wanted further transparency regarding the SACS complaint, including investigation of documents presented at a previous board meeting, which also were provided to news media. The documents, for example, include contracts between the county and partners who have used school system facilities.

“As taxpayers we’re asking for a thorough investigation into these incidents, where no document is … passed over,” Warner said. “… I request this board look at all the documents, whether they are text messages, emails, audio, video — whatever documents need to be turned over and reviewed. All we are asking as taxpayers is we want answers.”

In other school news, Chief Financial Advisor Todd Hooper addressed the ongoing cost issues related to insurance for non-certified employees.

“We continue to review health insurance options as they are provided by the state as they continue to pass on premium increases and therefore anticipate these increases are fairly well borne by the local board of education and local taxpayers,” Hooper said. “A recent Georgia Budget and Policy Institute [document] stated that the state of Georgia did not supplement the budget for any insurance premiums for non-certified employee insurance. These insurance premiums for non-certified employee’s have typically been paid for by the state.”

Hooper clarified by saying these premiums previously have not been present on local school boards’ budget allotment sheets. He said the GPBI stated in May that in FY 2013 that local school boards will not receive supplemental state funding for non-certified employee healthcare costs.

“They have now found a way to cut education further by not funding the employees’ health insurance benefits … so to speak,” Hooper said.

The board will meet Monday, Aug. 20, at 6 p.m. in the central office boardroom for its regular business session.