Teachers advise Bennett on Common Core, calendar
By Kathryn Schiliro
In providing feedback to Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett, a group of 21 of the county's teachers from all schools–the Superintendent's Teacher Advisory Board–weighed in on the struggle to implement state-mandated Common Core standards, the modified school calendar and got a preview of the fiscal year 2014 budget.
Work on the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS)–a revamp of curriculum required by the state Department of Education (DOE) that will bring Georgia in line with the majority of the country–was reported to be "a major stressor to teachers," according to Bennett's report, as the timeframe basically requires teacher revamp the curriculum as they go. According to the report, the advisory board shared concerns about teachers being pulled away from instructional time, lack of state guidance in developing the standards, the development of units without much turnaround time before the units are taught, lack of pre-planning time to work on implementing the CCGPS, lack of resources to support these newly developed, CCGPS-compliant units and the challenge of developing reliable assessments to evaluate students' progress.
Bennett, who shared the results of this meeting with the county Board of Education (BOE) at their meeting Sept. 10, said that he expects these pains will subside once the front-end work is complete.
The advisory board also addressed the modified work calendar, specifically the lack of planning time. For this school year, a total of 10 days were cut–two student days (around Thanksgiving), four pre-planning days, three post-planning days and teachers' January contract day.
According to Bennett, 10 days will have to again be cut from the 2013-2014 calendar, and teachers said they'd rather the teacher work calendar be cut by five days rather than eight (adding three planning days) and the student calendar be cut five days rather than two, which would make up for the three planning days.
Teachers shared ideas as to where the students days should be cut, and Bennett told them, according to the report, to expect to make a formal recommendation to the BOE later in the year.
The advisory board also got a preview of the FY14 budget and were able to compare it to the FY13 budget. Revenues this year–projected at more than $25.3 million–are expected to be more than $1.7 million less than expenditures–projected at $27 million. Moreover, system reserves "will be virtually exhausted at the start of next year," according to the report.
Employee salaries and benefits make up about 90 percent of the budget, the report states.
The advisory board will meet monthly to provide feedback for the superintendent and central office staff.
Printed in the September 20, 2012 edition