Bibb school board votes to end summer school

It’s official.

No Bibb County elementary or middle school students will have to attend summer school this year.

The Bibb County school board voted unanimously Thursday to end their traditional summer opportunity program to save $700,000 and use what they say is a better remediation program.

“In summer school it was about who volunteered to come,” said Appling Middle School Principal Robert Stevenson. “I think this will provide an opportunity to enrich and remediate all of our students with the teachers who know the children best.”

School officials will remediate struggling students now during the last four weeks of the school year using “Closing the Achievement Gap an 8-step Process” curriculum model, which they say is more aggressive.

Students will be grouped according to their skill levels for math and reading courses during the school day.

Until now students who failed the state Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in the spring would be referred to summer school for three weeks in June, but school officials said not all students attended and needs weren’t being met.

“Our parents were very excited about (the change),” said Diana Rodger’s, Bibb’s deputy superintendent of teaching and learning.

As a result of Thursday’s vote, CRCT testing is moving up a week to April 14-23 to get results earlier.

The board also voted Thursday during its January board meeting to start all elementary schools at 8:45 a.m. and dismiss at 3:15 p.m. It will change bell times for 12 schools this fall.

In lieu of expected additional state cuts this year, the board also approved $1.2 million in budget operation cuts. System officials adjusted fuel expenses to allow for the drop in fuel prices, eliminated buying two vehicles, reduced electricity expenses and reduced supplies and travel in various departments.

In addition, $495,672 in cuts to salaries and benefits also were approved by the board Thursday as part of a 2009 budget amendment.

Both cuts were made to help the school system end the school year with a higher general fund reserve of about $9 million.

Some of the salary cuts were freezing positions, such as one full-time and one part-time Program for Exceptional Teaching position at Central High and Rutland High and chief of police position after Russell Bentely retired after serving 15 years. He was honored with a plaque Thursday. There also were reductions in employee overtime and substitutes.

To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.