The Columbia County school board and system officials shared concerns with state lawmakers at a Tuesday meeting.
Superintendent Charles Nagle and members of the school board met with Sen. Bill Jackson and Reps. Ben Harbin and Lee Anderson at the annual meeting. Nagle said current state mandates have caused some budget constraints and potential changes could cause more problems.
"We're in serious times," Jackson said. "We don't know what the spring is going to bring."
School officials also hoped for more autonomous operation of individual school systems. In particular, Nagle said he hoped the lawmakers would not support a state-wide school calendar.
Some officials of school systems in coastal counties are requesting that school not start until after Labor Day, so as not to conflict with tourist season.
Nagle said an earlier August start date allows Columbia County pupils to finish the first semester before the Christmas holidays, allows time for preparation for the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in the spring, and is in line with the University System of Georgia for joint-enrolled high school students.
"I think it is an issue of the people who actually own the system, who actually use the system, whatever works for them," school board member Mike Sleeper said.
Nagle also expressed concern over the cost and aggravation of the math curriculum, which requires all math teachers to include several math disciplines in each grade level that get more difficult each year. That requires lots of professional development training, which isn't readily available, for teachers.
Also, the system paid to have custom math books written to accommodate the curriculum.
Nagle also wants an alternative to the One Diploma. He said fulfilling the college preparation requirements often prevents pupils interested in vocational training from taking those classes. He would like to see some flexibility in the criteria, giving students more choices in fulfilling the graduation requirements.
"There's just no room in the criteria (for vocational /technical classes)," Nagle said. "We're going to lose children in education if we don't give them the opportunity to study what they want to study."
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