Superintendent responds to parent’s criticism of proposed change to school times
A month after postponing its vote on the superintendent’s controversial recommendation that would change the times students start and end their school day, the Muscogee County School Board has reached a decision.
And it means a resolution will be delayed even longer.
In a unanimous vote during its monthly meeting Monday night, the board dropped from the agenda the action item that was Superintendent David Lewis’ revised proposal.
It would have extended the elementary school schedule by 15 minutes in the afternoon. It also would have made the middle school day 10 minutes longer, starting 5 minutes earlier and ending 5 minutes later. The high school day would have remained the same amount of time but would have shifted the start and end times 5 minutes later.
But now, the school bell schedules will stay the same for the 2019-20 school year, which begins Aug. 8.
Board chairwoman Pat Hugley Green of District 1 began Monday’s meeting by asking Lewis to pull his recommendation from the agenda. She said the delay will allow the administration more time for a more accurate survey of parents. She noted the survey allowed anyone to submit multiple responses.
“The surveys were put out at the end of the school year,” Green said, so conducting another survey at the beginning of next school year would allow more parents to participate.
“That’s my request to the superintendent,” Green said.
Lewis replied by reiterating the proposal was based on feedback from teachers, research and unanimous support from principals, but he agreed to pull his recommendation for now and come back with another one because “the long-term benefit of the proposal outweighs the expediency.”
Here’s how the proposed schedules compare to the current schedules:
▪ Current schedule: Doors open and breakfast is served at 7:15 a.m.; classes start at 8 a.m.; classes end at 2:30 p.m.
▪ Proposed schedule: Doors open and breakfast is served at 7:15 a.m.; classes start at 8 a.m.; classes end at 2:45 p.m.
▪ Current schedule: Doors open and breakfast is served at 8:30 a.m.; classes start at 8:50 a.m.; classes end at 3:55 p.m.
▪ Proposed schedule: Doors open and breakfast is served at 8:30 a.m.; classes start at 8:45 a.m.; classes end at 4 p.m.
▪ Current schedule: Doors open and breakfast is served at 7:45 a.m.; classes start at 8:10 a.m.; classes end at 3:25 p.m.
▪ Proposed schedule: Doors open and breakfast is served at 7:45 a.m.; classes start at 8:15 a.m.; classes end at 3:30 p.m.
The board unanimously approved the superintendent’s recommendation to promote two assistant principals to fill principal vacancies:
▪ Cheryl Hampel, the assistant principal at Reese Road Leadership Academy, will succeed the retired Renee Tharp as principal of Dawson Elementary School.
▪ Brenda Merritt, assistant principal at Rothschild Leadership Academy, will succeed Sonja Coaxum as principal of Fort Middle School. The L-E reported earlier this month Coaxum was promoted to MCSD’s executive director of special education. Jeanella Pendleton, retired principal of Reese Road, had been the interim director since JoAnn Redden left the position in January for what Lewis called “personal reasons related to family health obligations.”
The board unanimously approved an amended contract with Lewis.
Green said the salary will be $186,000, and the contract will run from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2022. Three years is the maximum length state law allows for a superintendent’s contract.
His last raise the Ledger-Enquirer reported was in December 2017, when the board voted 7-2 to increase his salary from $173,400 to $178,602.
The new contract wasn’t available to the public Monday, but the L-E has requested a copy.
After the meeting, Green explained to the Ledger-Enquirer why she thinks Lewis deserves this raise.
“The district has improved in all of the different metrics that we have set,” she said.