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Floyd BOE hears update on promotion/retention policy

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The Floyd County Board of Education was provided an update on a revised promotion/retention policy that would have criteria, such as assessments, as the basis for schools deciding whether a student passes a grade or must repeat it.

At the end of last school year, the board had called for a change in the policy, to remove a degree of leeway principals and teachers have in making these decisions. The board felt it necessary for them to have more explicit direction on the matter, said Floyd County Schools Superintendent John Jackson.

This policy would establish criteria, such as Georgia Milestones scores, Lexile reading levels and benchmark assessments, within guidelines that would be the basis for deciding promotion or retention, Jackson said.

“We want to put more teeth in it so students know that these Milestones scores mean something,” he said.

The policy mainly concerns elementary and middle schools, since the number of credits high school students have is the determining factor in promotion or retention, Jackson said.

The system is aiming to implement the policy by the start of next school year. However, system officials are still working to finalize the revised policy, something they wish to have done by March, to ensure parents are aware of the change, Jackson said. They have sought the input of principals, and want to present it to the Local School Governance Teams as well.

Jennifer White, a system math specialist who presented on what has been done on the policy, said students in kindergarten to second grade would be on a more case-by-case basis, while decisions for third grade through eighth grade would be based on the guidelines.

In action items, the board approved a resolution to phase out Pepperell Middle School. The system essentially is indicating to the state Department of Education a new school will be built and it won’t ask for any funding for the current school again. This will set them up to maximize state capital outlay funding for a new school, as it creates a funding need, Jackson said.

A second resolution was approved concerning the declaring of election results from Nov. 7 that saw the passage of an extension of the education local option sales tax. The system can now move forward in the process of taking out bonds to get their projects going.

A revision to school properties disposal procedures also went before the board on first reading. The change in language allows the system to transfer property to a separate government entity, something it didn’t allow for before.

Revising the policy came from the Floyd County Coroner’s Office request to acquire the freezer at the closed Midway School and use it in the new morgue for storing bodies.

Before the meeting finished, board member Melinda Strickland made a motion to amend the system’s charter “to incorporate the elements/guidelines of the Fair Dismissal Act that gives the right of certified employees to appeal decisions from the local level to the Georgia Department of Education.”

No other board member seconded the motion. Strickland said it is her promise to teachers that as a board member she will push for it to be reinstated in the system. A lawsuit, which calls for its reinstatement, against the system was filed in February.