David Waller, a spokesperson for Clayton County Public Schools, said the forums, which were held simultaneously Aug. 14 at all nine Clayton County high schools, included the parents of students attending that high school as well as parents of elementary and middle school students attending “feeder” schools to that high school.
Waller added the public forums were well attended, cordial and informative.
The minimum day scheduling program would dismiss students early each Wednesday afternoon during the school year. The proposal calls for elementary school students to be dismissed an hour earlier than a normal school day while middle school students would be dismissed 75 minutes early and high school students 90 minutes early.
“However, teachers would work a full day,” Waller said. “They would use this extra time in the day for professional learning, meetings, conferences and additional training.”
He said, however, school officials realize parents have expressed legitimate concerns about the program.
“The parents of our children are so important in the education process and, as such, their opinions will be of significant value when the school board discusses this issue as part of its work session next Monday,” Waller said.
He emphasized, however, that the minimum day scheduling program is not a “done deal.”
Larry O’Keeffe, a Clayton County education advocate who attended the public forum at Morrow High School, said his issue is basically one of communications.
“From my perception, there has been a marked decrease in our school administration’s active engagement of parents, the community and the board of education in the decision-making process,” he said.
As to the minimum day scheduling program, O’Keeffe said that, after listening to the discussions, he supports the need for training in the common core curriculum.
“However, my concern is that the instructional time lost with students be applied to additional instructor training in the common core and not to previously required activities, such as faculty meetings,” he said.
The discussions at each high school were recorded, Waller said, which will give time for Clayton County School Superintendent Edmond P. Heatley to review all of the forums before making his recommendation to the board on this issue.
“While we feel most parents support the objective of minimum day scheduling, which is the continued training and education of our educators, they do have concerns as how would the school children would get home on Wednesday if the parent is either unable to pick them up at school or the school bus stop,” Waller said.