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BOE approves legislative priorities
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COVINGTON, Ga. - With the Georgia General Assembly’s next session set to begin January 8, the Newton County School System (NCSS) Board of Education (BOE) last night approved a list of legislative priorities. Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent, drafted the legislative priorities and presented them to the BOE for review, revision, and approval.

This edition of The Covington News includes the BOE’s list of legislative priorities verbatim as readers may be interested in the policies and positions which the BOE believes would improve opportunities for Newton County’s public school children and for which it will be advocating. 

In other action the BOE approved: purchase of a digital media platform and associated products for $29,961 from Safari Montage, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania; a contract valued at $1.18 million for roof repair and replacement at Clements Middle School with Tecta America, Cumming, Georgia; renewal of a contract valued at $160,000 for plumbing services with Royal Flush Plumbing, Inc., Lilburn, Georgia; purchase of playground equipment to be located at the 15 schools where elementary students are enrolled from GameTime, Longwood, Florida for $287,894 and from Kompan, Inc., Pflugerville, Texas for $236,767; renewal of a contract valued at $180,000 for print management services with Ricoh USA, Inc., Malvern, Pennsylvania; renewal of a contract valued at $600,000 for use of a fuel card system by the pupil transportation department with McPherson Companies, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia; and disposal of surplus property.

During discussion of the contract for roof repair and replacement at Clements Middle School, Eddie Johnson, District 2 representative, and BOE vice-chair, expressed concern that the NCSS does not use local contractors often enough.

In the case of roofing contractors, the NCSS solicits bids from companies which have been pre-qualified by the National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance (National IPA). The discussion led to a general consensus by the Board as well as the NCSS administration that the school system should do what it can to help local contractors become pre-qualified by National IPA or otherwise positioned to bid on NCSS projects.

Johnson also requested that contractors who are awarded bids be made aware of local companies which could serve as sub-contractors for portions of the work.

Finally, the BOE approved the hiring of three teachers, six paraprofessionals, and five staff members as well as seven transfers, two retirements, fourteen resignations, one separation, and three terminations.

Newton County Board of Education’s Legislative Priorities 2018

Advocate for public education

The Newton County School System’s Board of Education supports The Georgia Vision Project as the vehicle to raise awareness, address issues, and enhance public education in the state of Georgia.

Local board authority

The board supports the authority of local boards of education to manage and control the operation of local public schools, opposing any legislation that attempts to override the constitutional authority of locally-elected boards to make educational decisions for their communities.

Program funding

The State of Georgia has not yet fully funded public education. The board supports ceasing state austerity reductions and restoring full funding to public education.  Since 2003, austerity reductions have resulted in a loss of earned funds totaling approximately $110,000,000.

The board opposes using public funds for private education in the form of vouchers, tax credits, and all other legislation that seeks to reduce state funding of public schools. The diverting of funds from public schools results in shortened calendars for students and staff, increased class sizes, a reduction in staff, and fewer programs and material resources for our public schools.

The board supports the funding of the state’s employee health benefits program so as to provide state employees with flexible plan options. Since January 2011, insurance costs have increased more than 359 percent for classified (non-teaching) employees. 

The board supports the continuation of full funding for the mid-term adjustment given to school districts experiencing student growth. The board further supports a fair and equitable state funding formula for public education in which the unique needs of each district are recognized.

Policy and impact

The board supports requiring a clear, timely, and complete description of the potential impact of state education legislation on the fiscal budget, operations, and programs of local schools and school districts. For education legislation that creates new mandates or programs for school systems, the board supports a delay implementation of such legislation for a minimum of one year thereby allowing school systems enough time to adjust budgets, implement programs, and reduce costs. 

Federal legislation

The board urges Congress to eliminate unnecessary mandates and regulations on schools. The board also supports requiring a clear and complete description of the potential impact of education legislation on the fiscal budget, operations, and programs of local schools and school districts. The board also supports a fair and equitable distribution of federal funds that supports a well-rounded education, a comprehensive safe and healthy student program, and the effective use of technology.

Teaching and learning

The board supports a fair and equitable system of teacher and leader evaluation. When evaluations are used for merit pay, certificate renewal, and/or other personnel decisions, the board supports the use of valid and reliable growth measures for all educators. The board supports the flexibility provided in Senate Bill 364 which reduces the number of state-required assessments, the requirement of online testing, and allows for the development of a pilot model of assessment. The board supports the use of Iowa Assessments for pre and post-test measures in lieu of the Georgia Milestones End-of-Grade Assessments (in grades three-eight.)
The board supports a fair and consistent accountability system that utilizes a growth/progress model for student achievement using multiple measures for student and teacher performance. The accountability system must recognize the uniqueness of each school system (i.e. special populations, socioeconomics).
The board continues to support the stabilization of curricula. Constant changes in curricula require additional training of staff, procurement of new resources, and create gaps in students’ learning.  The board supports rigorous standards and assessments that can be compared nationally and internationally. The board supports additional support and professional development for mandated curricular changes as well as additional funding to support changes in learning resources required for mandated changes.
The board supports the advancement of technology for schools and students.  Funding must be provided for instructional technology equipment, infrastructure, and individual student devices. Additionally, funding must be provided to support the integration of technology in every classroom.