During the June Candler County Board of Education Meeting, the board voted to accept and adopt the advertised FY 2022 Budget after advertising the budget for the required amount of time and holding three public meetings for community input. 

The board moved on to discuss the new student handbooks, each of which had minor revisions. 

Metter Elementary School most notably adjusted the grading criteria wording in the handbook.

“Metter Elementary was going through a standards-based grading system previously, but Monicca Bohannon, MES principal, wanted to align it more with the state descriptors for what level the student performs at, and looking at it, I think it’s more positive wording anyway,” said Dr. Bubba Longgrear, superintendent. 

“We just wanted the language of standard-based reporting for the parents to reflect what they would see when they received their child’s Milestones scores at the end of the grade, and then we also wanted to add in a way to track our students who are advancing beyond distinguished so that we can are sure we’re providing the services that those students need with particular standards throughout the school year in their unit of study,” said Bohannon. 

Bohannon went on to say, “So we added in ‘Distinguished’ if they were beyond the expectations of the standards being assessed at that particular point of grading within the school year, ‘Proficient,’ ‘Developing,’ ‘Beginning,’ and ‘Not Assessed at this Time,’ going from descriptors like ‘Mastery,’ ‘In Progress,’ ‘Did Not Meet’ and ‘Not Assessed.’

In the Metter Middle School handbook, some discipline verbiage was adjusted to reflect the standards of Learning from Home option.

“The biggest thing is that if students this past year attempted to learn from home but just show that they didn’t have the study habits, skills, internet access -- or whatever reason weren’t successful, then we feel strongly enough about student learning -- we’re not willing to let that go on another year,” said Will Thigpen, MMS principal. 

Thigpen went on to say, “Basically, we will have an application process, and if you haven’t been successful with it in the past, it’s not going to be an option for you this year, and if you do try and you start falling off -- a week, we’re going to be making contact; two weeks, we’re going to have you back in school.”

Dr. Longgrear added, “If there is a student that lives in this community that feels that virtual is the option for them and there’s some misalignment about where their capabilities lie and where their parents feel their capabilities lie, there’re other options. There’s Georgia Cyber Academy. There’s Georgia Virtual Schools. We’ll try and facilitate that as much as possible. 

“That being said, for students thriving in 6-12th when learning from home, we want to continue to provide that service. Some districts are not, but I think it’s still a captive audience of students that we need to continue to serve if they’re capable and it fits their learning style,” Dr. Longgrear continued. 

There will be no Learning from Home option for K-5th grade. The middle and high school will have to meet the same strict criteria to continue learning from home. 

The Metter High School handbook reflected the same Learn from Home changes that the MMS received, but they also had another revision. 

Dr. Robbie Dollar, CTAE director, explained, “This is the graduation year which we will no longer have distinguishing gowns upon graduation … Everybody will wear the same color gown. The distinction will come in the stoles and regalia that they earn. They will still be recognized in the appropriate way, but there just won’t be a color distinction.”

Dr. Longgrear added, “This came about when the School Governance Team of the high school, several years ago, deemed that maybe in some people’s eyes it was a little bit divisive or too much of a distinction between an honor graduate or not.”

John Jordan, special education director, said, “One of the main points from that School Governance Team during that process was really to align it more with colleges and universities when you look at their graduation. For the vast majority across the country, there’s one gown color, and as Dr. Dollar said correctly, it’s the regalia that really distinguishes the extras.”

The decision comes after some push back against the change a few years ago. The change was planned for last year, but due to COVID-19, it was pushed back to be implemented in this upcoming graduation ceremony. 


In other news … 

• Board minutes for the month of May were approved.

•All fundraisers were approved.

•The General Fund and School Nutrition Financial Reports were approved. 

•The following classified personnel were considered for employment for FY 2021: Karina Escalona, MES daycare assistant; Rhonda Forman, Kristina Gunn, Victoria Kennedy and Erica Smith, MES paraprofessionals.

•The following certified personnel were considered for employment for FY 2022: Tiffini Hendrix, Jane’t Lloyd and Jordan Lowery, MMS teachers; Kristen Champion, MHS teacher.

•The following personnel resignations/terminations/retirements were accepted: Stacey Cordova, SFS assistant; Tamara Hutson, BOE administrative assistant; Lake Ashley and Jasmine Sandifer-Lee, MES paraprofessionals.

•The following personnel actions were recommended: Rescind the resignation of Wes Edenfield that was approved in the general board meeting in April 2021; Transfer Mary Kate Brett from a MES classified position as a paraprofessional to an MES certified position as a teacher.

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