U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said the Trump Administration plans to enforce federal standardized testing requirements this school year despite the pandemic.
Georgia school superintendent Richard Woods, a Republican, opposes that plan.
“It is disappointing, shows a complete disconnect with the realities of the classroom, and will be a detriment to public education,” said Woods.
Madison County School Superintendent Michael Williams said Tuesday that he agrees with Woods, saying such a measure is out of touch with the reality of the classrooms in this strange time.
“I’m in full agreement with him (Woods) in this situation,” said Williams at the Sept. 8 county school board meeting. “The feds — they need to come be a part of the school system. They need to come sit in the buildings and work with kids and deal with what we’re dealing with and understand that testing is not the most important thing right now.”
One audience member at Tuesday’s school board meeting asked how standardized testing will even be logistically possible with many potentially in quarantine at the time of tests.
“And you’re going to have to administer tests to those online to the virtual students as well,” added Williams.
The State of Georgia applied for a waiver for the 2020-21 testing cycle and the state has been waiting for a response from the federal government. Madison County assistant superintendent Jody Goodroe said the federal government has until Oct. 13 to give states the official word on waiver requests. But he said the message is pretty clear: you’re going to be tested.
Williams suggested writing a letter to President Trump about the matter.
“It’s a little bit too much in my opinion,” he said. “We could send a letter to the president. It can’t hurt.”
Goodroe gave an overview of current virtual school enrollment. There are 293 elementary school students enrolled in virtual classes. Goodroe noted that 68 students that were signed up for online classes opted to return to face-to-face learning before the deadline for changing passed. There are 187 middle school students enrolled in virtual classes, with 24 changing back to in-person before the deadline. A total of 201 high school students are enrolled in online courses, with 10 returning to in-person classes.
Madison County school leaders are planning to have a “MC Connected” night Sept. 22 to get a measure of how many students in Madison County have an issue with connecting to the Internet. Information will be sent home with students.
In other matters, the county school board agreed in principle to move forward with a renewal of a long-standing energy efficiency agreement with ABM.
Assistant superintendent Amanda Wommack reported that sales tax collections were $217,625 for July, down from $232,476, but she said this is still higher than average. Williams said anything over $200,000 is good.
Wommack said there are currently 6.5 driving positions that need to be filled, but routes are being covered. A commercial driver’s license class was held in late August with six potential drivers.
She said open enrollment for employee benefits will begin in mid October, with virtual meetings beginning Oct. 9.
The Broad River College and Career Academy is working with the Chamber of Commerce to provide a Job Shadow Day this Thursday, Sept. 10, with local businesses Georgia Metals, The Shupe Team/Coldwell Banker Realty, West Fleet Services, Jordan Air, Southland Process Group and Medlink Georgia participating.
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting, the school board took a tour of the Madison County bus shop that was built in 1956.
Board members approved the following personnel recommendations Tuesday:
•Colbert Elementary: approved additional duties with CampRaiders for Hannah Bordon, Samantha Chitwood and Morgan Hollinsworth.
•Danielsville Elementary: approved Kim Fortson as a long-term sub for Wendy Seagraves; hired Laura Maxey as a paraprofessional; approved additional duties as an after school worker for Natasha Walker.
•Hull-Sanford Elementary: hired Marisa Wilson as a bookkeeper, replacing Kori Minish.
•Ila Elementary: approved Debbie Morris as a long-term substitute for S. Black, between Sept. 21 and Dec. 28; hired Peggy Seay as an after school worker.
•Madison County High School: approved Amy Jordan as a long-term substitute for Brooke Cooper between Aug. 29 and Oct. 23.
•Other: Cindy Brown and Kinsley Nix resigned as after school workers at Ila. Linda Gentry was promoted from a call-in monitor to a full-time bus monitor. Loretta Phillips resigned as a full-time bus driver but will remain a call in substitute.
BOE chairman Robert Hooper held a moment of silence to honor those who lost their lives in Washington D.C., New York and Pennsylvania in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The moment of silence was also to honor Department of Natural Resources Captain Stan Elrod, who lost his life Sept. 3.
— See the Sept. 17 issue of The Journal for more coverage of Tuesday’s school board meeting.