"We know that one-size-fits-all doesn't fit all of our students, we have over 600 home school students in our school system and as your superintendent I'm trying to work outside of the box a little for our students who attend our schools day-in and day-out as well as the students who don't attend for whatever reason that might be," Harper said during the board's regular work session.
Harper is requesting the board vote to approve a contract with K12 Aventa Learning, a virtual school provider, to provide services at the old CHS campus with an early emphasis on home school students.
"Certainly I recognize I wouldn't like to teach some of the high school courses to my senior, I believe there are parents out there who would like the same opportunity for us to provide a curriculum for them and we have the opportunity at the old Cass High School to utilize the facility," Harper said.
Harper said the school system will use the refresh program to incorporate older computers for use at the school to run the software purchased from K12 Aventa Learning at an approximate $299 per curriculum with a federal tax exemption of about $500 to offset the cost.
He said the academy also will target other non-traditional students, for example, those who have not been successful in their current high school setting or may face disciplinary problems delaying progress in school.
Harper said he also has been working on an agreement with Russ Moore, owner of Seamless Education Associates, to work with the county on a Georgia Projects and Career Grant to help set up the charter school at the old CHS.
"We've got a big facility, I know there are a lot of things we can do in there, [Chattahoochee Technical College Interim President Ron Newcomb] talked about, 'well, I don't believe the taxpayers want to give you that facility, but we can start small and have a class or two' which may not conflict with what's going on in some of our schools," Harper said.
Harper said specifically he and Moore are eyeing a $3.2 million grant for renovations at the old CHS and would place the charter school 'under the umbrella' of the authority of the school board.
In other school news the board heard reports on a policy revision for student medication use as well as student and staff tobacco use.
"With the [Georgia General Assembly] passing House Bill 277, it is now permissible for students to carry an auto-injectable Epinephrine shot," Harper said. " ... Prior to that passage, students had to have all those medications in the office for us to administer and often times a student is not around the office when they need that and the legislature felt it was important for them to have that."
He said the schools have been providing training for faculty members to administer the shot if the student is unable to do so.
All agenda items, including a "24/7" no-tobacco-use policy for students and faculty, will be voted on during the board's regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m.
"We have had a no tobacco policy since, I believe, around 2000, but we want to make that a 24/7 policy that no tobacco can be used on campus or at events seven days a week, 24 hours a day," Harper said.
Harper said he has been working with a representative from the Bartow County Health Department who will be responsible for providing the signs to alert students and visitors of the proposed policy change.
When asked why the ban on all tobacco use is being proposed at this juncture rather than in years past, Harper replied, "We're just trying to be a good steward for the county and the board of health to understand it's a very injurious thing to do, which is chew or dip or smoke or whatever you do, and to make that a more critical issue in this county."
He said the biggest problem comes from students and visitors using smokeless tobacco.