Columbia County voters might soon get the chance to elect a school board chairman.
Columbia County School Board member Mike Sleeper said at a Tuesday board meeting that state Sen. Jim Whitehead, R-Evans, plans to introduce a bill to create an at-large elected school board chairman for Columbia County.
Sleeper told fellow board members that he spoke with Whitehead on the issue at a Tuesday meeting of the Georgia School Board Association with lawmakers in Atlanta.
"He is in the process of drafting legislation," Sleeper said.
"He said he needs to have the legal issues of the bill reviewed, but he does plan to introduce it during this session."
Whitehead's bill also will redraw the board's district lines to match the county commission's districts, Sleeper said.
In the November general election, 41,106 Columbia County voters approved a nonbinding referendum to create an at-large elected chairman.
Sleeper said Whitehead wants to hear from the board on the issue.
Also at the meeting, schools Superintendent Tommy Price dismissed rumors that the school board will soon vote on approving an early release program in county elementary schools.
"The whole thing is an idea from the strategic task force, and that's all it is," Price said. "It's an idea that's on the table."
A strategic planning task force was charged in 2002 with developing methods of improving pupil achievement in elementary schools. In November, the task force presented to the board a plan that would release pupils two hours early one day a week.
The goal of the program is to give elementary school teachers more time to collaborate on lesson plans, which would produce more dynamic lessons, according to the task force.
After speaking to administrators in each elementary school, Price told the board that they agreed to provide free after-school programs to children who could not leave when school lets out at 1:30 p.m. on early release days.
At Tuesday's meeting, the board also approved spending $639,680 to purchase 10 new air-conditioned school buses from Nally Motor Transportation.
The purchase will increase the school system's fleet of buses with extra storage for athletic trips from 10 to 20, Price said.
A combination of state funds and 1-cent sales tax revenues will be used to purchase the buses, Price said.
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