Donna Graves got her wish.
At the last Columbia County Board of Education meeting, she had asked school officials to organize a meeting of children whose parents have been deployed in the war in Iraq.
The request was granted. The meeting is set for April 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Evans Middle School and is open to all children and their parents.
Graves said a one-time meeting would allow children to see that there were others in their same situation and would allow them to exchange telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.
She got the idea for the meeting when her 14-year-old son, an eighth grader at Evans Middle School, said he did not know of any others at his school whose fathers had been deployed.
Also at the board meeting:
The board approved a waiver from health and physical education course requirements for students earning three Carnegie units in Junior ROTC.
"You would not be awarding any Carnegie credit for those courses, but you would be waiving the requirement that they take these courses," School Superintendent Tommy Price told the board when the proposal was presented.
The board will have to petitioning the state Board of Education to waive the requirement for graduation.
Price said by not requiring these students to take these health/PE units, they could be free to take other electives. Students would be required to enlist in Junior ROTC for three years.
"This would affect a limited number of students, around 30-40 kids in each high school," Price said.
The new waiver would begin with the incoming freshman class next year.
The board also approved a policy that would allow pupils to change school attendance zones if a desired school offered a concentrated course of study not offered at the home school. Parents would be responsible for their child's transportation if they attend another school out of their zone.
"This will allow students to enroll in a vocational career program of study not offered at their school," Price said. "But it's not just for one class offered at one site and not another. If you really wanted to go into a designated field, we want to make that available to you."
Examples of programs that would fall under this ruling include Evans High School's metal working program and the nursing program offered at Lakeside and Greenbrier high schools.
The school system is looking at a new way to buy computers. Under a new proposal, computer purchases would be made through the Georgia Technology Authority and Western States Contracting Alliance, which have negotiated contracts with four "tier one" vendors - HP/Compaq, Dell, Gateway and IBM.
Technology Director Michael Kent said years of buying generic computers has created a problem with having to stock parts and repair the different units. Buying from a major name-brand company would provide consistency, he said.
The board received a petition with 95 signatures from residents of the Glenwood Subdivision asking the board not to grant a waiver of distance requirements to the owners of Rhinehart's Oyster Bar. The restaurant's owners have purchased property across from Bel Air Elementary School and plan to build a restaurant that would serve alcohol. Though the board gave tentative approval of the waiver at the last meeting, they delayed a final decision to allow more public input at the next meeting.
Board members are studying a proposed reorganization of central office management. The draft presented to board members Tuesday proposes adding another assistant superintendent to the school-system hierarchy.
The chart also proposes using retiring administrators Jonnie Ghetti and Nettie Engels in a 49 percent role, where they would work slightly less than half time, while receiving one pay grade less than they are making now with about half the benefits.
Board member Lee Muns is opposed to many of the proposed changes, saying he feels the proposal is too top-heavy and does not allow younger employees to advance.
The board will meet for a budget study session on April 29, at 8 a.m. in the Appling central office.
Retiring employees will be honored at a reception May 8 at West Lake Country Club.
The next meeting of the Task Force Committee to study the issue of having an at-large board chairman is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the department of curriculum services office in Grovetown.
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