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District readies for accreditation process

BoE to tackle policy manuals, $53 million spending plan

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POSTED: July 25, 2013 12:00 p.m.

In the past, schools in Bryan County were accredited individually.
That’s about to change, Board of Education members were told at a Monday evening workshop in Black Creek. Now, the entire district will undergo accreditation at one time, according to Dr. Brad Anderson, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.
“After some discussion we felt it would be better for us to do it as a system,” Anderson said. “Instead of putting all the pressure on the individual schools, it puts a good deal of pressure on our system itself.”
The accreditation timeline is already under way and will continue through March 2014, when a team of 17 evaluators will spend three days visiting local schools.
Anderson said the accreditation process, which takes place every five years, is a good thing for the system.
“It gives us that external eye,” he said. “It’s always helpful to have someone from the outside come in and tell you what you’re doing well and what you need to improve on.”
While schools in Bryan County routinely rank among the highest in Georgia on test scores and the system is considered one of the best in southeast Georgia, it’s important to prepare for the accreditation and “do it right,” Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher told BoE members at the workshop.
“It’s going to take a huge deal of work. I promise you we’re not losing accreditation on my watch,” he said.
Accreditation, which in Georgia is done by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, or SACS, is important because without it credits won’t transfer to other schools — which could negatively impact the county’s large population of military dependents — and high school students might not get accepted into college or be eligible for the HOPE Scholarship.
Such instances rare, but it has happened. In 2008, the Clayton County school district reportedly lost SACS accreditation due to a dysfunctional school board, which included ethics complaints and violations of the open meetings law.
Chatham County schools were put on probation by SACS in 2004 over complaints about school board members. Miller County’s school system was also put on probation in 2011 and Dekalb County’s school system was put on probation in 2012, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Also at the workshop:
- The BoE began the process of updating its policy manuals. Brooksher told school board members he and his staff looked at 15 similar systems around the state for “best practices” in compiling recommendations for changes to policies.
- The BoE got a look at a tentative budget that includes a general fund of $53 million and more than $73 million when capital projects are included. The county is starting construction on two new elementary schools this year — the new Bryan County Elementary School in Pembroke and McAllister Elementary in South Bryan.
The BoE, which is not raising millage rates this year, is reportedly set to adopt the tentative budget Thursday. Its fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Final adoption will be Aug. 22.
Brooksher told BoE members they deserved a “round of applause” for their work on the budget.
“What you’ve been able to do is unheard of in today’s economy,” he said.

 

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