“We had a really good meeting and it was a great opportunity for us to see each other in a different framework [and] we had a chance to compare notes on some of the things we saw and heard,” board member Anna Sullivan said. “I chose to attend the best practices seminar, and in that [seminar] they highlighted different counties that are using technology and strategic planning and other elements to heighten the efficiency of the school board and central office in reporting, so it was exciting to hear what some of the places like Clarke County and Decatur [schools] were doing.
“We also heard an absolutely incredible closing presentation by the superintendent of the Joplin, Mo., schools ... and the biggest thing that he said that really struck me, being from Adairsville, is how critical it is that the schools have strong ties and strong links to their communities because when a disaster happens like that, those ties are the things where you have built that mutual trust and that mutual work over many, many years and many months in multiple ways to help support those children that attend our schools. If we can do that and solve some of those problems for our children, then we really are setting the standard for the coming generation.”
Other board members reported on issues from the conference, ranging from technology to policy and student safety.
Board member John Howard, for example, attended the policy workshop.
“We talked about in July of 2015, the state is requiring that school systems choose between Status Quo, IE2 and Charter School [status], and Charter School had some different options from the state that we’ll have to look at in the next year or two and make the decision on how we want our school system to progress,” Howard said. “We know we have the charter school at the [Bartow County] College and Career Academy, so that might be something that starts that progress for us.”
He added, “They went on to discuss, obviously, safety in our school systems over what has happened in the last year, and they talked about the most you can do is having plans. And I know [Bartow County Schools Chief of Police] Dan [Knowles] and the rest of the SROs have plans with our principals and we installed some panic buttons this year and I feel comfortable with our school system, but there’s always stuff we can probably look at ... and there might be some things we have to do as a board with policy changes as well.”
Howard also cited HB 35, which was prefiled by State Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, in January, that would allow school systems to decide whether to allow administrators to carry weapons on school campuses.
“If that does come to pass, there’s a lot that [Superintendent John] Harper and ourselves are going to have to come up with as far as guidelines and training and whatnot that they’re basically going to leave to the local level. Unfortunately, they’re going to make the local level pay for it as well,” he said.
In other school news, Harper reported the Georgia Association of School Personnel Administrators recently recognized the Bartow County School System for the Best in Class Platinum Award in the area of Employee Handbooks and Honorable Mention for Employee Retention and Recognition Programs. The board recognized Human Relations Executive Director Macy Defnall for her efforts in employee retention and recognition.