School Board Chairman the Rev. James Bush, left, and Superintendent Joshua Murfree conduct Dougherty County Board of Education Governance Team Advance Tuesday at the Dougherty County School System's building on Pine Avenue.
ALBANY — The Dougherty County School Board opened a two-day advance and training session Tuesday with the assembled board members kicking off the day by voicing their hopes and concerns for the system.
Carol Tharin suggested the board could work on its hiring practices and place more emphasis on reading at the elementary school level.
“I’d like to see us improve our hiring practices and procedures,” Tharin said. “We need to give every qualified applicant a fair chance at getting a job. I’m talking about expanding the equal opportunity laws and advertising outside of the system and find the most qualified people possible.”
She then issued a challenge to her fellow board members.
“Looking at test scores over the past several years. I am shocked how little improvement has been made in meeting expectations in regard to reading,” Tharin said. “Studies show that if a child has not mastered reading by the third grade, they are likely lost and lost forever. I want us to take a hard look at reading at the early elementary level.”
Milton “June Bug” Griffin said he figures the board could solve many of its problems by putting prayer back to the monthly board meetings.
“Ever since we took prayer and the ministers out of our meetings, we’ve been having problems,” Griffin said. “We need to bring them back.”
Board Chairman James Bush, himself an ordained minister, then pointed out that prayer during board meetings was against the law.
Anita Williams-Brown suggested the board learn to work better together to solve its problems.
“We have two or three members that every time we have a problem they go see a lawyer, and the next thing you know I’m getting a letter,” Williams-Brown said. “That bothers me.”
Darrell Ealum then urged the members to embrace technology and unveiled a five-year plan to get one-to-one computing into the system’s schools.
“By 2012, we want to place laptop computers into a third-, sixth- and eighth-grade class as a pilot program for totally paperless classrooms,” Ealum said. “We intend to build a program from the ground up and we’re really excited about it.”
The board members launched into training sessions covering team roles and responsibilities, and implementing the chain of command.
This morning the board members plan to review day one and complete a self-assessment and superintendent evaluation.
Later, the members will learn about SACS Accreditation, board standards, and the board’s role with staff before setting goals for 2012.