GSBA names Coweta BOE ‘Quality Board’
The Coweta County Board of Education has received a Quality Board designation by the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA).
Superintendent Steve Barker announced the designation at the board’s Nov. 10 regular meeting. School boards given the ‘Quality’ designation by GSBA meet all requirements of state Board of Education training accreditation, and have adopted and begun implementing a system strategic plan, among other criteria. Coweta’s school board has typically held the highest professional distinctions offered by GSBA.
Barker congratulated board members on the distinction.
“This is the highest ranking available for Boards of Education this year,” said Barker. “It means you hold to best practices and strive for improvement in an efficient, ethical cooperative manner”
Barker also took the occasion to thank board members for their dedication to education in Coweta County.
“I appreciate your approach, as a board, to your business,” he said. “You have accomplished an enormous amount in the last two years.”
Noting the impact of the economy on school systems throughout the state and nation in recent years, Barker cited several Coweta Board of Education actions or positions for which he commended members, including: •Maintaining a 180-day educational calendar for students.
“Although approximately two-thirds of the school systems in Georgia have reduced student school days below the 180-day standard because of state level budget cuts and declining local digests, you have not done so,” he said. “This has helped our students succeed and helped prevent reductions in pay for many employees.”
• Holding the local property tax millage rate at 18.59 mills since 2005.
“This has helped all citizens during these difficult times,” he said.
• Holding the number of reduced calendar days for employees working beyond the 180-day school calendar to three days for the past few years.
“With state-level budget cuts in education… many districts have five to 10 furlough days or reduced calendar days for employees. I know your goal is to restore these days as soon as possible, but you have held to a minimum number of reduced days and kept our employees’ needs in mind,” he said.
• Maintaining student course and program offerings in the performing and visual arts.
Even with state-level budget cuts and a declining tax digest, Coweta County students “continue to excel in music, visual arts and the performing arts. You have continued your financial support for the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts, making it a source of pride for the entire community,” said Barker.
Barker said that educational research indicates that artistic opportunities for students “are critical to their academic achievement, creativity, critical thinking and leadership development.”
• Remaining committed to the Central Educational Center College and Career Academy charter school, and to its mission of creating a viable 21st century workforce.
School board leadership, financial support and facility maintenance efforts have “helped make this community-wide effort possible,” and the board has expanded its support for CEC by approving and financially supporting the development of the eighth Grade College and Career Academy at CEC.
• Supporting a conservative budgetary approach that has resulted in lower operational costs while serving more students. As system revenue has declined in recent years, the board has reduced personnel costs through attrition and using system reserves conservatively, Barker said.
“This has brought stability to our community during turbulent times.”
• Remaining committed to school and student safety despite budgetary challenges.
“You have hired additional school resource officers and you have approved the purchase of safety equipment for schools,” he noted.
• Taking a conservative approach to facility planning with voter-approved ESPLOST collections.
“You have focused on renovations, modifications and additions that improve facilities, allow for student growth and hold down operational costs during uncertain economic times,” said Barker. “You have carefully tracked enrollment and taken a patient approach to new construction.”
• Supporting a learning service delivery model that provides students with many options.
The school board has promoted and encouraged dual-enrollment classes with college institutions for high school students, and more advanced course offerings for all students at all levels, said Barker.
“You have allowed early graduation for seniors who are ready to enter college or the military. You have supported virtual learning for students at home or at school through the Georgia Virtual School enabling more diverse course offerings and more scheduling options for students. You have supported student internships and student apprenticeship opportunities with business and industry.”
• Approving a technology plan with voter-approved ESPLOST funds that has increased broadband width and improved wireless capabilities at schools, placed more technology in the hands of students and provided improved workstations for teachers.
Barker thanked the board members for their commitment to those positions, and to the member’s “laser-like focus on our core business” of student achievement.
“With enormous responsibility and increasing demands of your time, you have always focused on what is best for students,” said Barker. “You have constantly asked me the question ‘What will the impact of this decision be on instruction?’”
“Unlike most school boards, you have done it without any pay,” Barker added.
Barker noted that the Coweta school system still faces many challenges, including ongoing budgetary concerns, the state’s implementation of the new CCRPI accountability system, and other challenges ranging from growth to curriculum changes.
“I know each of you will continue the tradition of placing student needs at the front of each decision,” said Barker.