Recap of the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System Board Meetings on August 9, 2017 (Savannah, GA)

On August 9, 2017 the SCCPSS School Board held our monthly meetings. During the meetings we discussed everything from the solar eclipse to classroom supplies. 

By now, I am sure everyone knows all schools in SCCPSS will be closed on Monday, August 21st due to the solar eclipse. The two main reasons for closure are: 1) safety concerns for the 38,000 students that are in our care every day and 2) dismissal logistics. 

  1. Regarding the safety of the students and staff in our schools, proper eye protection is needed and would need to be purchased for everyone in the schools in order to safely watch the solar eclipse. This is an expense that has not been budgeted nor could the district guarantee that everyone would wear the protective glasses to avoid being harmed.  
  2. The dismissal logistics is two-pronged. Operating a half day would not have worked because students would have to be home by 1:15 PM. The afternoon routes take about 3 hours to complete. This means that the first bus would have to depart from some schools at 10:15 AM which is not long after the normal school day begins. If we would have an extended day (the eclipse ends at approximately 4:09 PM), we would have some students home after 7:00 PM. This would also present issues with staffing, double backs, and coverage of routes for at least 20% of the drivers with other obligations. There were other factors that include: increased traffic (this will be during the afternoon rush hour), students that walk home, car-riders, staff with child care, etc., therefore the extended day was also not a viable option. Some parents and staff informed the district they were not going to be at the schools in order to travel to nearby locations to witness the event with 100% totality (Savannah will have 97%), thereby leaving schools short staffed. Superintendent’s office took all of these considerations into account when making the decision.  

One of the most exciting topics discussed was the Million Book Challenge! This initiative is aligned with the new Balanced Literacy program that SCCPSS rolled out this school year. The goal is to have at least 275 books in each kindergarten through 5th grade classroom throughout the district. If you want to donate, you can drop off new or gently used books to your child’s school, the Central Office (208 Bull Street), or contact me directly and I will make sure the books get to where they need to be (912-547-8453). 

Over the last month, many of the board members were contacted by parents asking to change the backpack policy. This topic was discussed during the informal meeting and the Superintendent agreed to conduct a review of the policy. Pending that review by a group comprised of district staff and parents, right now there is NO change to the policy. I will update everyone if the policy does change. 

During the Informal Meeting I brought up the need to see how we can increase classroom supply budgets. I do want to be clear about one thing, I do not think that we need to be a blank check to buy any and everything, however I do think that we need to do a better job putting more resources back into the classroom. As I mentioned at the meeting, while I was growing up I do not remember my mother having to buy anything but pencils, pens, folders and notebooks for me. She didn’t have to buy computer paper, binders, or sponges like Allison and I had to this year for our son’s Pre-K class. I will be working through the budget process to see what we can do to help the teachers and parents. 

We also updated the promotion and retention guidelines for the 2017-2018 school year. The Superintendent and staff worked to directly align local reading and math assessments with the Georgia Milestones. This will simplify assessments into one platform to better assess reading and math skills of our students. The previous Dibels, mClass Math, and the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) skills assessments have been eliminated. The annual proficiency targets for math and reading have been uploaded and posted to the district website. Click here to see the updated exhibit. 

So here are some important dates coming up: 

  • Thursday, August 17, 2017 – 9:00 AM – Capital Improvement Committee – Whitney Administrative Complex – Jessie Collier DeLoach Board Room (Building G) – 2 Laura Avenue
  • Monday, August 21, 2017 – NO SCHOOL – Solar Eclipse 
  • Wednesday, August, 23, 2017 – 10:00 AM – Transportation Committee – Whitney Administrative Complex – Jessie Collier DeLoach Board Room (Building G) – 2 Laura Avenue 
  • Wednesday, August 23, 2017 – 6:00 PM – Town Hall Meeting Hosted by District 7 School Board Representative Michael Johnson – West Chatham Middle School – 800 Pine Barren Road, Pooler, GA 31322 
  • Thursday, August 24, 2017 – 7:45 AM – Audit Committee – 208 Bull Street, Room 103 
  • Friday, August 25, 2017 – 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM – Governance Workshop – Oatland Island
  • Tuesday August 29, 2017 – 3:30 PM – Board Accountability Committee – 208 Bull Street, Room 103 
  • Wednesday, August 30, 2017 – 2:00 PM – Charter School Workshop – Whitney Administrative Complex – Jessie Collier DeLoach Board Room (Building G) – 2 Laura Avenue 
  • Monday, September 4, 2017 – NO SCHOOL – Labor Day Holiday for All 

Michael Johnson serves as the Savannah-Chatham County Public School 7th District School Board Member and Buyer Agent for The Johnson Team with Keller Williams Realty Coastal Area Partners.

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