Houston BOE discusses policy changes at work session

PERRY -- The Houston County school board will vote on three changes to district policies at Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting, the last before students return to school in early August.

The first, if applied to the county’s grading policy, would mainly affect students in honors and Advanced Placement courses. Those courses have weighted grade point averages, but according to current policy, the final grade is capped at 100 points.

Because of that, students might not get the full advantage when the final grade is factored into their overall GPAs. Michelle Masters, assistant superintendent for school operations, said the proposed change would alleviate that.

“It’s to allow a student’s transcript to accurately reflect the grades they earned,” she said at Monday’s work session.

A student’s raw grade before weighting would still be capped at 100, she added.

The other two policy revisions were intended to align the district with recent legislative changes. One change, if approved, would clarify the language in the district’s weapons policy to state that all violations should be reported to the principal or assistant principal.

The third policy adjustment would add language to the district’s anti-bullying rules that is specific to “bullying through electronic communication.”

“And honestly, it’s something we’ve been doing,” Masters said.

Board Chairwoman Marianne Melnick said she wanted to make sure the district and board wouldn’t have the power to over-reach in anti-bullying efforts, though.

“The behavior that’s cyber-bullying, whatever’s occurring has to impact the school,” she said.

While those changes will be dealt with Tuesday, the board has more adjustments coming. Melnick and board member Skip Dawkins will vacate their posts at the end of July, with Melnick moving to a different district in Houston County and Dawkins moving to West Virginia to be closer to family.

To fill those empty seats, the board will take a majority vote for interim replacements until a March election.

“I’m confident the board will be able to choose somebody that will be able to step in and work hard for the students,” said Superintendent Mark Scott.

Vice Chairman Fred Wilson will assume duties as the chairman of the board.

The representatives chosen by the board vote will hold those seats until March, and whoever wins those elections would be in office for the remainder of that seat’s unexpired term. Melnick’s post won’t be due for re-election until 2018, but Dawkins’ term is up in 2016.

That means whoever picks up the victory for Dawkins’ vacant board seat will need to run again in May if he or she wants to stay on the board longer than a few months.

The new board members will also have big shoes to fill, Scott said, noting Melnick’s eight years on the board and Dawkins’ 19 years.

“That’s certainly going to have an impact, the institutional knowledge,” he said.

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331 or follow him on Twitter@MTJTimm.