Columbia County School Board trustees agreed that public meetings are needed before they approve new elementary curriculum guidelines.
"I sincerely regret the amount of turmoil this has caused," said school Superintendent Tommy Price. "Obviously, there's a good bit of misunderstanding and misinformation."
The proposed guidelines increase the amount of time pupils study core subjects, including English, math, science and social studies, and standardize the time devoted to enrichment classes such as physical education, music and art.
Another element is a funding formula for allocating enrichment teachers - roughly one for every eight classes. Strictly following this formula would cause enrichment cuts in at least four schools.
At an informal meeting Saturday, trustee Lee Muns met with more than 60 concerned parents, most from Euchee Creek and Evans elementary schools, where the proposal for allocating enrichment teachers threatens to cut a half-time teaching position. Many of the same parents were at the board meeting Tuesday.
But Price said the issue might ultimately be one of money. Local taxpayers are paying for more than double the number of enrichment teachers the state will support.
To comply with the governor's mandate for smaller class sizes, Columbia County will have to hire 23 more teachers over the next two years - adding $1 million to the payroll.
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