By: Stuart Bennett | May 14, 2010, 12:56 pm

The May meeting of the Georgia State Board of Education returned to its customary format this month with the board committees and the committee of the whole on Wednesday and the board meeting on Thursday.  This month, most of the action items of interest to our readers, came out of the Rules committee as they addressed several significant rules this month as well as additional system waivers.

First, the actions on the state board rules, the board initiated a new Rule 160-5-4-.16 Educational Facility Site, Construction and Reimbursement a policy that changes the names of the rule from Design and Construction Standards and Construction Costs to Educational Facility Site, Construction, and Reimbursement, modifying the title of each guidelines to contain the word “guideline,” changing Guideline for Risk Hazard Assessment of Educational Facility Sites from a guidance document to a guideline that will address the process to receive reimbursement on state funded projects.  Clarity was added to guidelines in order for LEA business and facilities personnel to be better able to understand the requirements and procedures and to make sure LEAs do not loose state funding.

A good deal of their deliberations were centered around the repeal State Board of Education Rule 160-4-8-.12 ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROGRAMS and the subsequent adoption of a totally revamped State Board of Education Rule 160-4-8-.12 ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROGRAMS.  The proposed State Board defines instructional services local school districts must provide, references the Alternative Education Program Standards, and ensures alternative education program accountability. Significant changes to the rule include the following: • additional definitions for clarity • requirements for local school systems contracting with private vendors to provide alternative education programs • requirement that the alternative education program curriculum is aligned to the Georgia Performance Standards • requirement for all alternative education programs/schools to provide standardized testing as specified in SBOE Rule 160-3-1-.07 TESTING PROGRAMS STUDENT ASSESSMENT • requirement that all alternative education programs/schools operate in full compliance with federal and state laws and State Board Rules governing students with special needs • requirement that all alternative education programs/schools adhere to SBOE 160-4-2-.05 Middle School Program Rule Various internal and external stakeholders were included in the development and vetting of these revisions. The final action, with regard to state board rules, taken this month was to repeal Rule 160-1-3-.09 WAIVERS AND VARIANCES OF HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION and reinitiate a new rule (same name and code) that will students with additional assessments which can be used to show that they have demonstrated mastery of a subject when being considered for a variance.  This new rule should give the state board clearer guidelines to districts about their applications for these waivers to the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHGST).

The state board granted waivers this month to:

  • SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.08 Class Size for Chattahoochee County
  • hardship waivers provided in SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.29 Minimum Direct Classroom Expenditures ( 65%) for Camden and Tattnall Counties
  • SBOE Rule 160-4-5-.02 Language Assistance: Program for English Language Learners to Candler County.
  • SBOE Rule 160-4-8-.05 Guidance Counselors to Camden and Candler Counties
  • SBOE Rule 160-4-2-.14 Instructional Extension to Candler County
  • SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.22 Personnel Required to the Banks, Screven and Vidalia City systems
  • SBOE Rule 160-3-3-.04 Professional Learning to Brantley County
  • SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.01 SCHOOL YEAR to Whitfield County

Finally, the state board granted the State Board of Education exercise its authority under O.C.G.A. Section 20-2-168(c) (2) to recognize a continuing emergency and critical shortage in state revenue as documented below and authorize local boards of education for the 2010 - 2011 school year to depart from a strict interpretation of “school year” for certified staff as defined in State Board Rule 160-5-1-.01 and in other related rules.  Once again this year the state board granted a blanket waiver to their rule requiring treat local certified staff work 190 days.  Their action would allow a system to depart from the 190 days and reduce the staff days to 176 if they deem the current financial crisis serious enough to warrant this.

In other actions this month the state board:

  • Approved local facilities plans for Brooks, Columbia, Dalton, Effingham, Irwin, Jones, Screven and Webster counties but Tabled action on the facilities plan for Lincoln County.
  • Added ten private schools to the list for approved participation in the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program for FY 11.
  • Transferred two parcels of real estate in Florida owned by the Smoky Powell Center, to the Highlands Community Habitat for Humanity.

The board took action on the following budget and charter items:

  • Charter system status to Floyd County
  • A contract of $75,000.00 for fifty parents of students with disabilities to participate on Focus Monitoring teams that monitor special education services.
  • Award a grant to Richmond County, $341,843, to correct FTE errors for the operation of a residential care center.
  • A contract to Parent to Parent of Georgia in the amount of $152,000, for training of parents on IDEA.
  • Grants in the amount of $85,152 from Title I and Title IIIA, to Southwest Georgia RESA, as fiscal agent for funds for the Title III Statewide Consortium of school districts serving small populations of Limited English Proficient students.
  • Issued a contract to obtain services for 14 complaint investigators, $80,000 total, to conduct complaints related to special education services.
  • Grants, Redistribution of ARRA Allocation, $44,764 total, to qualifying school districts.
  • Award grants totaling $2,988,488.00 from special education services, to eligible school districts, for reimbursement of expenses of students whose direct instructional and related services exceed $27,000 in individual annual costs.


Finally this month  we want to specifically point out to our readers are  Math and Science Partnership Grants (Title IIB), to 25 eligible school districts in the total amount of $5,701,301 to improve the quality of math and science education.