Hundreds of Bibb County school jobs would be cut and up to 12 schools would close under school Superintendent Romain Dallemand’s strategic plan.
Those moves would save the system about $23 million, he said.
The plan also would structure schools differently. Elementary schools would have students in kindergarten through third grade. Middle schools would have grades 4-7, and high schools would have grades 8 through 12.
The plan also calls for longer school days.
Dallemand is announcing details of the plan this afternoon to school board members, and the session drew a large audience. He said there are more than 100 action steps involved in implementing the plan.
There are now 1,179 teachers in Bibb County’s public schools, excluding special education teachers, according to the plan. Under a reconfigured system, the schools would need only 856 teachers, with leveled class sizes and with fewer facilities open.
Cutting 300 positions would save the system $19 million between 2013 and 2018, officials say. The plan would allow the staff reductions through attrition. It also projects a savings of about $4.5 million by closing up to 12 facilities.
Dallemand says his goal is for every Bibb County student to graduate by 2023. He also announced ambitious plans to increase SAT performance, as well as the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses and dual enrollment offerings.
During the presentation, board member Gary Bechtel asked Dallemand what part of the plan addressed school safety, alluding to the report of a rape at Northeast High School last month.
Dallemand also said that all students will learn Mandarin Chinese, beginning in kindergarten, and all students will get free Internet access at home. Through the work of local organizations, he said, low-income students will get home personal computers.
The Mandarin Chinese instruction could begin as early as this fall. Language instruction will be phased in at the elementary schools, and the goal is to have the programs in place by fall, though delays could be expected as teachers come from China and might have to deal with visa issues, said Jane Drennan, deputy superintendent of teaching and learning.
Middle schools would begin teaching Chinese in 2013-2014, and high schools would begin teaching it the following year.
Once a student goes from pre-K through 12 years of Chinese instruction, “they should be pretty proficient,” Drennan said.
As for teachers, Dallemand discussed new initiatives for education and training for teachers, including an “educators academy.” He also stressed that teachers also need to be more proficient in technology and called for a “comprehensive technology development plan.”
Dallemand also talked about switching to a year-round school calendar in the future.
Last month, Dallemand said he planned to meet with school board members in small groups, in private sessions, to unveil his proposals. Doing so would have kept the public from hearing the plan since there would have been no quorum of the full board on hand.
After questions about that plan from the state attorney general’s office, however, Dallemand changed course and set up Friday’s called meeting.
Dallemand’s plan, which he has dubbed the “Macon Miracle,” has been a year in the making. During the first few months of his tenure, he met extensively with members of the public, community leaders and school employees to gather their ideas and input. Those sessions included two gatherings at the Macon Coliseum.
Dallemand has said that his plan will boost achievement in the public school system. He has said he wants students to be able to pick what school they attend based on the area of study they’re interested in, and he also wants students to become more proficient in technology.
Dallemand is scheduled to present the plan to the public at another Coliseum gathering Feb. 10. Schools will close early that day.