Bibb County school Superintendent Romain Dallemand plans to meet with school board members in closed sessions a week before the school system unveils to the public its strategic improvement plan Feb. 10.
The superintendent will meet with board members in small groups on Feb. 3 throughout the day so they can have time to look over the plan’s specifics and provide their suggestions, Dallemand said during Bibb County’s school board meeting Thursday night.
“It will be a very bold plan,” Dallemand said. “It is designed to develop strength of character and (allow students to) become college-ready.”
The meetings will be closed to the public because there won’t be a quorum of members, Dallemand said after the meeting. That arrangement helps accommodate the busy schedules of board members, according to Alisha Allen-Carter, assistant to the superintendent.
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By state law, meetings with a quorum of members -- in this case, five or more of the eight Bibb school board members -- can only be closed to the public to discuss personnel, future acquisition of property or pending litigation.
Board President Tommy Barnes does not see the Feb. 3 meetings with board members as a violation of the spirit of open meetings laws, but rather an opportunity for board members to understand what school leaders are planning and provide feedback.
Under the strategic plan, students will be able to choose which schools they attend based on their academic interests, as opposed to where they live, Dallemand announced Wednesday. However, the superintendent is holding off on providing more details until Feb. 10.
Those who have applied to existing magnet programs, such as Alexander II Magnet School or Vineville Academy, will not be impacted by the plan in the 2012-13 school year, Allen-Carter also said.
In recent months, Dallemand has supported school choice for students, as well as them learning Mandarin Chinese and becoming more well-versed in technology. He also discussed the idea of year-round schooling, but that proposal will not be adopted for the 2012-13 school year.
In other business Thursday, athletic upgrades at Bibb County’s middle and high schools are set to be finished next month, while renovations at Williams and Union elementary schools are expected to be completed ahead of schedule, according to a report on the school system’s construction projects.
The athletic upgrades, budgeted at $13.4 million, began in May. Included in those upgrades are field houses for Northeast, Howard, Central and Southwest high schools. Originally projected for an October 2011 finish date, school leaders now say the construction will wrap up in February. Along with other upgrades, the schools also are getting fencing, sidewalks and batting cages.
Fall storms in Georgia and Alabama contributed to delays in finishing the projects, said Brenda Stokes, the district’s interim capital program director.
“They’ve been very good projects,” said Stokes. “It’s been a delight working with the athletic department and the coaches at the schools. I think it’s gone smoothly.”
On the other hand, renovations at Williams and Union are expected to wrap in up March, four months ahead of schedule. In addition to HVAC and roofing renovations, Williams also is getting a revamped media center, and Union is getting skylights and improvements to its cafeteria.
The school board also heard the results of an audit of the system’s financial statements for fiscal 2011. The financial statements received an unqualified, or clean, opinion, in a report from Miller Edwards of accounting firm Mauldin & Jenkins. That means the systems didn’t have any major red flags in its financial documents.
The system has $22 million in its fund balance, or reserve funds. That is up from about $17 million from the previous year, because of savings from employee furloughs and federal dollars.
The $22 million figure would sustain the school system for about a month, Edwards said.
“I’m not going to sit there and say you look fat and happy, but you’re not looking skinny and weak either,” he said. “Other (school systems) are not looking so good.”
While Edwards said that the system’s statements are fine, there were some issues in the audit, including delays in grant reimbursements that carried over into fiscal 2012 and issues related to school lunch reimbursement.
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.