The Richmond County Board of Education’s decision to use a Saturday in March as one of three make-up days for school lost to last month’s ice storm sparked predictions of record low attendance for students.
But the empty chairs could be behind the teachers’ desks as well.
More than 300 Richmond County teachers are registered to attend all-day training at Georgia Regents University on March 22, the Saturday make-up day, according to Judi Wilson, GRU associate professor in the department of teacher education. Of those educators, there are 175 first-year teachers and 75 mentors being required by the district to attend, Wilson said.
On the same day, Augusta Technical College will also host its annual early childhood education conference for about 400 educators from across the state. Andrew Jefferson, Augusta Tech director of continuing education, said the conference was booked a year in advance, but declined to say how many educators from Richmond County are signed up.
Board attorney Pete Fletcher said a discussion about the conflicts will be added to the agenda for Tuesday’s committee meetings. After losing six instruction days to this year’s ice storms, the board on Monday voted to make up three of the days on March 17, a furlough day, March 22, a Saturday, and April 18, Good Friday.
Superintendent Frank Roberson said Monday it was his goal to give students an opportunity to make up as much instruction time as possible before testing for the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests begins April 17.
Roberson originally proposed two Saturdays and a Monday as make up days – March 15, 17 and 22. Noting the trouble of enforcing school on two weekends, the board then voted to use April 18, Good Friday, instead of March 15.
President Venus Cain said the board had few options to work with before testing was scheduled to begin April 17. March 17 was the only furlough day available and April 18 was the only holiday remaining before testing.
The State Board of Education last month approved a resolution that gave school districts the option to make up snow days and stray from the 180-day student calendar.
With five instruction days already lost to furloughs though, Cain said the board aimed at making up as much time as possible.
Fletcher said he will also clarify on Tuesday what the implications are for employee pay. State law would require employees to make up the days in order to get paid, but Fletcher said new information from the Department of Audits might show otherwise.