Just more than a month before an accreditation team visits Bibb County schools, school board members said there are strengths in the districts governance and leadership abilities, but they acknowledged there is plenty of room for improvement.
In a called meeting Monday, board members discussed an upcoming visit from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which determines whether the school district is meeting quality standards.
SACS officials will visit Bibb County from April 28 to May 1 as part of the accreditation process that takes place every five years. The team will interview staff, visit classrooms and review school system data before sharing its report on the district. However, the final decision on accreditation wont come until June.
Monday, board members reviewed the five broad standards the team will use in the assessment, focusing on governance and leadership. The board was asked to review the systems progress in several areas within the governance and leadership standard, giving scores between one and four.
Board members gave most areas an average of two points.
Some strengths board members named included legal representation with expertise in school law and board training sessions, while areas of improvement included reviewing outdated school board policies and attending more state and national training sessions.
The school board will meet Tuesday to review school board policies.
Board member Wanda West said she wants administrators to review accreditation standards annually, not just when there are accreditation visits.
It just puts all the board members on the same page, she said.
Board member Tom Hudson said board members could expand their horizons by attending more national training sessions and conferences.
I think it would help us think globally instead of locally and statewide, he said.
At the start of Mondays meeting, Jane Drennan, deputy superintendent of teaching and learning, said the accreditation process is not something to fear, but rather something board members and district leaders should embrace as a way to continuously improve.
Drennan has been leading a team of Bibb administrators in the accreditation process, for which system staff have been preparing more than a year.
What we learn through this process, we hope, will be of benefit to our students down the road, Drennan said.
Besides the quality assurance that a SACS review can provide, Georgia students must graduate with a 3.0 grade point average from a high school that has been accredited by SACS or one of several other organizations in order to be eligible for the HOPE scholarship. Without the accreditation, students have to meet additional academic requirements to qualify.
The SACS visit will come about two months after the school board bought out Superintendent Romain Dallemands contract for $350,000. The buyout deal also gives Dallemand his accrued pension benefits, health insurance for him and his family through July 2014 or when he finds a job that provides coverage. It also included a reference letter signed by four board members.
On Feb. 28, the board chose Susanne Griffin-Ziebart, one of Dallemands deputy superintendents, to serve as Bibbs acting chief for 30 days or until an interim superintendent is named.
In any case, the district will be without a permanent leader when the accreditation team arrives in the district next month to visit schools and interview board members, district leadership and parents, among others.
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.