Two significant items for any school system are the topic of a called Rome City Schools board meeting — the budget and when classes will start back for the upcoming school year.

The special called meeting will take place Friday at 3:30 p.m. and will be streamed on the Rome City Schools website.

Discussions about the plan to return to school began at the regular school board meeting in early June, but the board wished to have more teacher and parent input before making any decisions.

“Right now the plan is to start back up in August,” said Superintendent Lou Byars. They will discuss an updated plan in the Friday called meeting.

In the June 9 meeting, Byars had planned to recommend a flexible instruction premise — allowing students to either attend classes in person or participate in virtual learning from home.

That plan included several requirements for students and teachers to follow that promote health and safety during the time of COVID-19, including guidance on wearing masks, social distancing and hygiene.

The instruction option favored by Byars gives parents the option to keep their child at home and have them log into class through their school-issued Chromebook, where they would be able to see their teacher instructing their regular class.

Just as importantly, the school board will discuss the proposed budget.

“We’ll hopefully give them a good update on where we are on the budget,” Byars said.

The legislature still had not approved the state’s budget when Byars spoke Thursday afternoon, but Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, said there was word late Thursday that House and Senate negotiators reached a compromise with cuts of 10%.

Gov. Brian Kemp initially asked for 14% cuts to all state agencies but later lowered it. The compromise budget softens the cuts to education, but it was unclear Thursday night how each school system would be affected.

The Rome City school board earlier approved three unpaid, nonwork days for all employees as a part of the 2020-21 school year — potentially saving the system about $660,000.

The days will be the employee’s first two days they are scheduled to return to work and their last day of the school year. For teachers, that means two of those days would be at the beginning of the five-day preplanning period at the end of July, with the third one on the last day of post-planning in May 2021.

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