To accommodate scheduling changes, Muscogee County School District middle schools will start 10 minutes earlier and dismiss 13 minutes earlier each school day.
Middle schools will start at 8:50 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. and dismiss at 3:52 p.m. instead of 4:05 p.m., superintendent David Lewis announced during Monday evening's Muscogee County School Board called meeting and work session.
The new schedule incorporates more time for Professional Learning Communities (teacher planning and staff development) and a period called Increased Learning Time, when students can receive remediation, enrichment or make up missed work during the school day instead of before or after school. The earlier dismissal time also address concerns parents and guardians have expressed that middle schools were letting out students too late for after-school activities, the administration explained in the rationale for the agenda item.
District 4 representative Naomi Buckner asked Lewis why the board wasn't being asked to vote on the new times. Lewis said he isn't trying to circumvent the board but such an administrative decision doesn't require a vote.
District 2 representative John Wells also questioned Lewis' judgment when it came time to vote on approving the new principal for Eddy Middle School.
The board voted 8-1 to hire Shermaine Derrick, the assistant principal at Mooresville (N.C.) Intermediate School. Wells objected to Lewis recommending someone from outside Columbus.
"We have qualified people in town that I know can do this job," Wells said.
Lewis responded, "I did not say we didn't have qualified people. I was looking for people that I felt would make the best fit for specific jobs."
Wells: "What's the difference?"
Lewis: "Qualifications are the minimum requirement. I did not want to in any way, shape or form denigrate any of our employees internally, but you hired me to bring people into this system, either internally or externally, who will help us move the district forward. That is what I have done."
Buckner added, "I too believe we have people in the district who are qualified. However, I don't have all the information that y'all have, and so I'm just trusting that y'all are making the best decision."
Lewis: "Thank you for that. Please keep in mind also interviews are a very important part of that process. Everything you have on paper is one thing. It's also the interview where you ask those insightful questions and you drill down and find out things that are important for moving a specific school forward."
After the meeting, Lewis said two internal candidates were interviewed to fill the Eddy principal vacancy.
The board unanimously approved Lewis' other two recommended hires during the called meeting: Penny Bowen was promoted from assistant principal at Shaw High School to principal at Blackmon Road Middle School; LaChrista McQueen was promoted from instructional specialist with the Program for Exceptional Students to director of the Woodall Program, which provides emotional and behavioral support services.
The board conducted its monthly work session one week earlier than usual because of a scheduling conflict with the regular date, which is the second Monday of the month. The board will conduct this month's regular meeting on its usual date, which is the third Monday of the month. So the wait between this month's work session and the 6 p.m. July 21 meeting will be two weeks instead of the usual one week.
Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow Mark on Twitter@MarkRiceLE.