The Richmond County Board of Education voted Tuesday to scrap a decision requiring students and employees to make up three of the six school days lost to winter weather.
The board voted March 3 to use March 17, a furlough day; March 22, a Saturday; and April 18, Good Friday, as makeup days for instruction.
However, board members acted without realizing more than 300 Richmond County teachers were registered for an all-day training event at Georgia Regents University on March 22, the majority of whom were required by the district to attend.
Augusta Technical College is also holding its annual early childhood education conference for about 400 educators from across the state that day.
Because of the low attendance also projected for students and staff March 17 and April 18, the board voted to forgive the days without penalty.
Board member Jimmy Atkins scolded “the administration” for not being aware of the Saturday training before proposing the makeup dates and demanded the board never again be put in a position to reverse a decision made a week prior.
“I’m tired as an elected official of being made to look like a fool because administration did not do their homework,” Atkins said. “I cannot believe that at that time (March 3) somebody did not know about the conference going on at GRU and speak up.”
The State Board of Education last month approved a resolution that gave school districts the option of making up snow days and straying from the 180-day calendar.
However, with four instructional days and five employee work days already lost to furloughs, board member Helen Minchew said she feared forgiving the snow days could affect achievement.
“Our students will just have to hopefully be prepared to take their tests and hopefully pass,” she said.
Board attorney Pete Fletcher said the Department of Audits released informal guidance indicating school districts would not be penalized for paying employees for days they did not work because of inclement weather.
Georgia law has a provision against gratuities, or paying employees for time they did not work, but the unprecedented weather and missed days posed a remarkable situation, Fletcher said.
The board also had to adopt a policy amendment Tuesday stating any days missed because of school closings that were not required to be made up will be without financial penalty.
“It may be the only time we ever use this, but it needs to be passed,” Fletcher said.
Superintendent Frank Roberson said because some teachers were required to work Feb. 17, which was later forgiven by the state, principals will be advised on how to compensate them for their work.