Parents and community members are concerned about how Oconee County Schools assess student performance and see a need for greater support services in the schools to help with mental health, stress, and social skills issues.
That was one of the key findings of researchers for the Georgia School Boards Association, who examined responses to an online survey and input from a community engagement meeting last month.
The researchers also said parents and community members believe Oconee County Schools have high quality teachers, administrators, and staff and that there is a high level of parental involvement in the schools.
Claire Buck, chief academic officer for the schools, updated the Board of Education on Monday about work on the strategic planning process and released to the public for the first time the findings of the School Board Association researchers.
Buck also identified for the first time the 41 members of the 2018-2019 Strategic Planning Team, which, she said, met Nov. 1 and 2 at the North Oconee High School Field House to discuss the report of the researchers and move forward with the planning process.
The Strategic Planning Team, appointed by the School System, consists of two Board members, eight school administrators, four school principals or assistant principals, one teacher, one paraprofessional, six students, 11 parents, and eight members of the community.
Board Work Session
Buck’s update on the Strategic Planning Process was part of her report to the Board at its work session on Monday.
|Strategic Planning Team Photo Presented To School Board|
She said the sessions by the Strategic Planning Team on Nov. 1 and 2 had gone well and she and others present were impressed with the input from the six students.
Two were elementary school students, two were middle school students, and two were high school students.
Buck and School Superintendent Jason Branch are part of the Strategic Planning Team, as are Board Members Tim Burgess and Amy Parrish.
The membership of the Strategic Planning Team is available online.
Stanley DeJarnett, director of the Georgia Vision Project, assisted with the discussions at that session, Buck said. The Georgia Vision Project is a joint activity of the Georgia School Board Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association.
Input To Report
The School Board Association report, which is available online, is based on responses from the 267 Oconee County community members who participated in the volunteer, online survey and from the roughly 385 persons who attended the Community Engagement Meeting held by the school system on Sept. 18.
Of the survey respondents, the Georgia School Board Association researcher reported, nearly three-quarters were parents of Oconee County School students.
One in ten came were community members not associated with the schools and without children in the schools.
In the survey and during the Community Engagement Meeting, participants were asked to indicate what they believed were the strengths of Oconee County Schools, areas in need of improvement, opportunities for the schools in the future, and challenges facing the schools.
The Georgia School Board Association researchers said “several consistent themes emerged” in the responses to the four questions posed in the survey and at the Community Engagement Meeting.
“First, OCS community members recognize that the strength of their schools rests in high quality teachers, administrators, and staff, as well as with the high level of parental involvement already present,” the researchers wrote.
“Community members see opportunities ahead for OCS through finding new funding sources and using community resources such as institutions of higher education to increase offerings at the schools, including more CTAE options,” the report states. OCS stands for Oconee County Schools and CTAE refers to career, technical, and agricultural education.
Respondents to the survey and at the engagement meeting were “concerned about current methods of assessing student performance and see a need for greater support services to help with mental health, stress, and social skills issues,” the researchers wrote.
The final theme, according to the researchers, is that “There is also room for improvement in fine arts facilities and in technology infrastructure.”
The issue of student assessment was raised at the Board of Education’s Sept. 17 meeting, by Joyce Reifsteck, 1141 Thornwell Drive, north of Watkinsville, who said she was concerned about the burden placed on teachers by testing in the county’s schools.
Jake Grant, director of facilities, told the Board of Education at the Nov. 5 meeting that construction of the road work at the new Dove Creek Elementary School on Hog Mountain Road northwest of U.S. 78 is incomplete.
The county had said the work would be finalized by Oct. 26, but that work will not be completed until Thanksgiving, Grant said.
The realignment of V.M. Osborne will be the last part to be finished, Grant said.
Grant said that his new contact at the county’s Public Works Department is Adam Layfield.
Emil Beshara was terminated as Public Works director by Oconee County Administrator Justin Kirouac on Nov. 1. Kirouac did not explain the reason for the decision.
Grant reported that the construction at Oconee County High School has been completed ahead of schedule and the Certificate of Occupancy was issued on Nov. 1 for the remaining eight classrooms at the school.
Twelve classrooms were ready for use when school started in August.
The video below is of the meeting Nov. 5 meeting of the Board of Education.
Buck’s report is at 5:05 in the video.
Grant’s report is at 24:45.