Columbia County teachers soon will have planning time away from their classes to work with each other on new teaching techniques and curriculum.
The Columbia County Board of Education gave final approval at a Tuesday meeting to allow teachers to meet with each other and collaborate on how to implement the new Georgia Performance Standards, and to work on improving the quality of students' work.
"It's important that teachers have a way of doing some new planning and new curriculum," Board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said.
Columbia County Schools Superintendent Tommy Price said teachers will be allowed to meet twice a month without requiring the early release of students because substitute teachers and paraprofessionals will fill in.
"We're making sure schools aren't scheduling it on the same day to make sure we have an adequate number of substitutes," Price said, adding he hopes to implement the planning days immediately.
In other actions at Tuesday's Board session in Appling:
The board approved matching competitive grants obtained by individual schools up to $5,000 per year.
The board gave the go-ahead to form a 19-member committee to research the issue of the school calendar. The panel will conduct surveys to get community input and any suggestions for changes.
Price's suggestion, which was approved, was to have the committee comprised of five parents; a principal or assistant principal and a teacher from each school level; representatives from church, recreation and business communities; Karen Ribble, the school system's special projects coordinator; and the four high school student council presidents.
Board member Mike Sleeper said he would rather handle the "hot issue" of the school calendar locally than let state legislators dictate any changes.
"I think this is the right thing to do ... to approach it from the local level," board member Wayne Bridges said.
Price also presented changes to the school systems' Code of Ethics for Educators that mirrors that code of Georgia's Professional Standards Commission.
The changes, which the board approved, clarify procedures for school administrators, teachers and staff on how to handle and report crime on school grounds.
The board gave tentative approval to changes to the system's Student Welfare-Child Abuse policy. The changes bring the policy up to date with state and local law enforcement standards on how and when to report child abuse, including any form of sexual misconduct.
"It's all about protecting the children and the duty to report," Price said, adding that much of the additions were taken from the standards commission policy or from state or local laws. "We won't go wrong if we stay within the letter of the law."
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