I think your opinion about the school calendar might be a little out of touch with the parents and employees of the Columbia County school system. I have not found one parent who received the choices for a start date for the school year. Attendance is a part of Adequate Yearly Progress; therefore, parents no longer have the luxury of taking their children out of school for a family event without being sent to Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan for excessive absences. It doesn’t matter if the child is doing well in school, just that they have unexcused absences. So it might matter to the parents when the school year starts.
While most households consist of two parents working outside the home, it would be nice if the educational system does not lose sight that the family unit is the strong foundation that is given to the students who attend their schools. Without downtime, it can become stressful on the family unit.
Back to instruction time. I believe your piece could have been more productive on the subject of increased class sizes and the reduction in teachers and paraprofessionals in the system. In a March 22 article in The Augusta Chronicle about schools performing poorly, Columbia County had two out of the seven schools listed. Last year we had to wait for summer school graduates to see if Evans High School was a passing or a failing school. All the signs are there that we still keep going in the same direction. We keep administrative costs high while chipping away at our classrooms and our teachers. I found it appalling that, according to the Web site that lists school system employees’ salaries, our superintendent has gone up in pay every year from 2008-11, even in years when teachers and school employees were furloughed.
If you are so concerned with the educational value of our school system, why don’t you do an investigative piece on administrative costs of our county and see where the money is? I can assure you, it is not with the teachers or the students.
As Superintendent Charles Nagle said at one of the board meetings concerning increased class sizes, “This is getting the most bang for the buck.” He also stated “that our county pays less than any other county in the state per student for education.” What am I missing? Aren’t we in the business of educating children?
Why isn’t anyone asking if we are getting the most bang for our buck at the top level? If there is no money for books, why is our superintendent making $190,000 a year plus travel? Do you realize that the deputy superintendent and the associate/assistant superintendents make a combined income of $472,000. That is more than half a million dollars for five employees. Throw in the county controller, who also makes more than $100,000, and you have almost $1 million for six people. Why aren’t you writing about that?
This is why I hope the citizens of Columbia County vote for charter schools in November. This will give the parents, teachers and business leaders a voice in the schools their children attend, without being bullied by a school system that does not get involved with micromanaging the employees, the parents or the students. If charter schools are not what you want, then please vote for board members who do some information-gathering so they are able to make informed decisions instead of decisions based on what is spoon-fed to them by the administrative staff of the school system.
As Gaudi stated, “Courage, endurance, fearlessness, and above all self-sacrifice are the qualities required of a true leader.” Where is the self-sacrifice of our leaders? Why are the school employees, teachers, students and parents doing all the sacrificing? We should ask this question when we vote for the people who will represent us at the federal, state and local levels. If they put themselves before us, they don’t deserve our vote.