Officials close Peach BOE careers

FORT VALLEY — With little fanfare, Peach County Board of Education members Norma Givens and Wright Peavy ended their tenure Tuesday night.

Though their terms won’t expire until Dec. 31, Tuesday’s meeting was the last for the two-term members.

“It’s been an interesting eight years,” Peavy said at the close of the meeting. “I feel the county is in good hands, and you all will do a great job in the future.”“I never thought I would be in public office, and I am glad for the opportunity to serve the public,” Givens said. “Peach County will always be in my heart.”Givens further reminded the board “the children are dependent on you,” and said President-elect Barack Obama has a commitment to education.

“May the peace of the Lord be with you,” she said in closing.

“And also with you,” responded some in the audience and other board members.

Earlier, the board unanimously approved using “Robert’s Rules of Order” as its protocol for conducting meetings. Such a move was recommended by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement when it took the school district off probation in October.

The board also held a discussion on the two new elementary schools being built on U.S. 341 north of Fort Valley and off Kay Road south of Byron.

Board member Jamie Johnson said he attended a community meeting Monday and several issues about the schools were raised.

Superintendent Susan Clark said the schools are being built using the same architectural plans, both would be slightly more than 92,000 square feet and both would have a capacity of 998 students.

Clark also said the attendance zones for the schools were drawn using recommendations by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The school system still is under desegregation ordered by a federal court.“Once they were brought back into play we lost control of drawing those lines,” Clark said. “We drew the maps they told us to.”

The new school in Fort Valley will initially have 665 students, she said, with the Kay Road school having 496 students.

“Keep in mind that, contrary to popular wisdom, we are growing,” Clark said. “When you build schools you have to accommodate growth.”

Johnson replied he wanted to confirm some information he had, and that the state Department of Education and the Justice Department approve the efforts the district is making.

In another matter, the board approved the calendar for the coming school year.Clark said extra days off for students were given at the end of December 2009 and the beginning of January 2010 to help give teachers time to settle into the new schools.

“It’s our normal procedure to seek public input on the school calendar,” she said, “but because of the school openings we were locked in.”

To contact writer Jake Jacobs, call 923-6199, extension 305.