School panels to consider attendance policy, staff cuts

Potential policy changes involving student attendance and work-force reductions will come up at Richmond County school board committee meetings Tuesday.

Board members will hear a plan to have schools use staff and other resources to intervene in the lives of students who have had attendance problems. The idea is to cut down on truancy cases that head to juvenile court by working with students and parents earlier.

Previously, students with five or more unexcused absences were ordered to appear in court, where the cause of the problem was addressed.

The system's reduction-in-force policy, which was last revised in March, also is slated for discussion at today's committee meetings, which are set to start at 4 p.m. at the board's Broad Street office.

Board members are being asked to give the superintendent greater flexibility in factoring in a worker's effectiveness and overall job performance "as a key component of reduction-in-force decisions," according to a memo from board attorney Pete Fletcher to board members.

The current policy calls for work-force reductions in the following order: attrition, temporary employees, part-time employees, retired employees, non-tenured teachers and then those who are tenured.

Meanwhile, recent proposals for a four-day school week or longer school days in Richmond County will have to wait. School board member Alex Howard said Monday that with Superintendent Dana Bedden out of town today he'll hold off on the ideas for now.

Both proposals -- designed to cut operational costs -- would be considered for next school year.

Howard has said he prefers adding 20 to 25 minutes to the school day -- thus shortening the school year by a week or two -- to the four-day plan but would likely present both ideas either at the board's Feb. 16 meeting or at a meeting next month.