Richmond County schools will start the 1997-98 term with 23 new principals, another school using uniforms and a fully approved budget, trustees decided Tuesday.
The massive switching of principals and assistant principals, approved 9-0 with one abstention, highlighted the shortest school board meeting in two years, which lasted just 12 minutes. Trustees met in committees for 30 minutes beforehand.
"This is to strengthen the school system," Dr. Larke said. "Nobody is going to be receiving any kind of pay cut. ..This is not considered demotion."
Under Georgia law, a state employee has been demoted, legally, if he has a loss in pay, prestige and responsibilities, board attorney Pete Fletcher said. So, while some of the changes approved Tuesday moved people into jobs with lesser duties, they are considered transferred.
Dr. Larke also cut three jobs from the system, all consultants or coordinators for teachers assistants or social services, saying he needed to cut more administrative jobs to put more people in classrooms.
Trustee Jeff Annis abstained from voting on the lengthy list of principal changes but there were no questions or disagreements from the board. Among the surprise changes are:
A transfer for Curriculum Director Gale Sitton to assistant principal of Hephzibah High School. Ms. Sitton has been a visible member of the central office staff for more than three years. Virginia Bradshaw, assistant superintendent for instruction, is starting the search for a new curriculum director, Dr. Larke said.
Eliminating the visiting teachers coordinator job held by William Holmes and sending the former Lucy C. Laney principal back to a school. Mr. Holmes will be principal of Houghton Elementary.
A transfer of Westside High School Principal Gayle McGee to assistant principal at Academy of Richmond County High School. David H. Smith, principal at Langford Middle School, takes over Westside.
And transfer of Elizabeth Byus, teacher at A.R. Johnson Health, Science and Engineering High School, to assistant principal of that school. Ms. Byus had been on the verge of taking over Westside High School in 1995 when she and another assistant were disciplined for giving grades to their student aides. Instead, Ms. McGee got the Westside job two years ago.
"Her probation is up and that's why I'm bringing her back," Dr. Larke said of Ms. Byus.
Ms. McGee is being reassigned not long after a confrontation with school police chief Maj. Mike Farrell about a Westside student found at school with a gun. Dr. Larke insisted Tuesday, however, that incident played no role in his decision to move Ms. McGee.
"You don't look at one situation, you don't look at one date in time," he said. "I looked at the entire two year period at Westside High School and I felt a change was needed."
Trustees also approved 9-1 their $165.8 million budget for fiscal year 1998, having changed little about the mammoth document after several budget hearings. Trustee Barbara Padgett voted no.
Trustees voted 10-0 to change the way it buys textbooks, approving a policy introduced in May, and said yes to a request by C.T. Walker Elementary School, a magnet school, to join the school uniforms program this fall. Wearing uniforms is voluntary at the schools in the pilot program.
Pupils at Graham and Hephzibah Elementary schools in fall will have a shift in the school zone that determines which school they attend, trustees approved Tuesday. McBean Elementary School, a new school, will open in December, drawing children from the combined zone, which now stretches to Blythe and the Burke County line.
Children who live east of Peach Orchard Road will attend Graham Elementary in August, then move to McBean Elementary when it opens. Children who live west of Peach Orchard will attend Hephzibah Elementary. A new, larger zone for McBean Elementary will be drafted for the 1998-99 term.
Changes in school leaders approved Tuesday:
Richard Johnson retiring as T.W. Josey High principal
Charles Lamback retiring as Glenn Hills High principal
Gayle McGee, Westside High principal, to assistant principal at ARC
David H. Smith, Langford Middle principal, to Westside principal
Vivian Pennamon, Morgan Road principal, to T.W. Josey principal
Wilson Rice, principal at Houghton Elementary, to assistant principal at Glenn Hills High
Elizabeth Byus, teacher, to assistant principal at A.R. Johnson
Gale Sitton, curriculum director, to assistant principal at Hephzibah High
Quinton Motley, teacher, to assistant principal at Josey High
Elaine Shinn, teacher, to assistant principal/vocational education at Josey High
Henrietta Mason, teacher, to assistant principal/vocational education at Lucy C. Laney High
Lynn Warr, Southside Elementary principal, to principal of Langford Middle
Dorothy Gandy, Lamar Elementary principal, to principal at Morgan Road Middle
Sylvester Brown, Meadowbrook Elementary principal, to assistant principal at Langford Middle
James Thompson, A.R. Johnson assistant principal, to principal at Rollins Elementary
Mary Alice Taylor, Collins Elementary assistant principal, to principal at Garrett Elementary
Lisa Annis, Gracewood Elementary principal, to principal at Goshen Elementary
Marie Cooper-Draves, Langford Middle assistant principal, to principal at Gracewood Elementary
Ronnie Beard, Jenkins Elementary principal, to principal at Meadowbrook Elementary
Georgette Magwood, Sego Middle assistant principal, to principal at Jenkins Elementary
Jesse Chambers, Laney assistant principal, to principal at Jenkins Elementary
William Holmes, visiting teachers coordinator, to principal at Houghton Elementary
Frank Simmons, Rollins Elementary principal, to assistant principal at Collins Elementary
Nancy Cisick to principal at Southside Elementary
Calvin Hollands to principal at Glenn Hills High