Teachers are excused on inauguration day

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Richmond County Superintendent Dana Bedden is making a special exception for teachers and staff members wanting to take off Jan. 20 to participate in activities for the presidential inauguration.

Students will be out because the school calendar set that Tuesday aside as a professional development day. The day before is a federal holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dr. Bedden developed a special exception for educators wanting to be excused from work on inauguration day.

"We figured for a unique historical event we wanted to create flexibility," he said Tuesday.

Immediately after the election, requests began coming in for time off Jan. 20, Dr. Bedden said. Some principals granted the requests, and some did not. There was no consistency, so he stepped in, allowing principals to permit as much as 5 percent of teaching staffs to take the day off for the inauguration.

There's a catch, however. Teachers must submit the request in advance and present a plan for how they will incorporate the experience into the classroom when they return.

"We expected a pretty sharp uptick (in requests for time off)," Human Resources Director Norman Hill said, but by the close of business Monday only 22 requests had been made.

That's about 1 percent of the system's teaching staff, Mr. Hill said.

Dr. Bedden recalled times while teaching in Washington, D.C., that schools made similar accommodations for significant historic events, but this is the first time he has seen this outside of the nation's capital.

Richmond County spends about $22 million a month on personnel, which comes to about $1 million a day, the superintendent said.

The inaugural day flexibility extends only to Tuesday. Anyone stretching the time off to Wednesday risks losing a day's pay.

"We wanted to be supportive, but also we wanted to be accountable," Dr. Bedden said.

On Jan. 20, the staff development day might also schedule a break coinciding with the inauguration, he said.

Jeff Hubbard, the president of the Georgia Association of Educators, applauded the flexibility of Dr. Bedden and the school system.

"We've had a number of school systems that are being extremely inflexible," he said. "We've had people put in for personal leave months ago, and they've been told if they miss that day they'll be docked pay and it will be put in their personnel file."

Regardless of whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican, a presidential inauguration can provide dramatic teaching moments for students, he said. If school systems can allow time off for class reunions and football games, then they should certainly allow time for such a historic event, Mr. Hubbard said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

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beenaroundtheworld
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beenaroundtheworld 01/08/09 - 05:47 am
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It was clearly printed in the

It was clearly printed in the article that so far only 22 individuals have requested to be off. The fact that Dr. Bedden is allowing the flexibility is awesome. The school calendar for this year was planned over a year ago and at that time nobody knew who was going to be President. Some of you sound as though you would rather times return back to the "Jim Crow Era". Guess what OBAMA will be the president let the anger go. I am sure some of you have high blood pressure and not sure why. Let it be known that anger will cause the BP to rise. If this was clearly a white black vote, Obama would not be president, he truly represents everyone in this country that's why it was a landslide. The Good Ole Boy System has slowly brought this country down. How about admit and understand the mess we are in has been in the making for years. He is truly going into the biggest mess ever and it will take years to recover. The fact that teachers want to be a part of this experience along with the millions of others is just wonderful. All of you who are hating on Dr. Beddens decision need to pray. The world has embraced Obama, because he is what the US needs at this point in time.

1941
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1941 01/08/09 - 08:01 am
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You people need to listen to

You people need to listen to yourselfs! You bet it is a historical day, and if this country had not been so racist, in the past forty-three, presidents just mabe, this would not have been such a big deal. But he is the first african american president this country have ever had, It is a big deal not just for the united states but the world. So stop worring about your tax dollars, you dont pay enough in taxes to even speak on the matter, take away what little you pay and it wont even be missed. Just like your vote, it did not matter either!!!

2tired2argueanymore
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2tired2argueanymore 01/08/09 - 08:49 am
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You guys keep yelling racism

You guys keep yelling racism and we just had an election that backed a candidate with no experience becuase he was black. 95% of the black voters voted for him and a majority of them could not even tell the difference between his platform and the opposing candidate. The VP elect went to the movies and wasn't even recognized because the people that voted him in don't know who he is. Racism? Yes it is alive and well in the black population and they are willing to do anything that helps someone of their race regardless of the consequences. Thank God that some of them or smarter than that.

Talkatoast
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Talkatoast 01/08/09 - 09:39 am
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Yeah...give it to Columbia

Yeah...give it to Columbia County as well. We don't have it!

dale88fan
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dale88fan 01/08/09 - 10:14 am
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can we please get saddams

can we please get saddams birthday off --- at least we can celebrate two muslims at the same time -- our so called president to be and saddam!

Lorraine
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Lorraine 01/08/09 - 10:43 am
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dale88fan, I am 90% sure that

dale88fan, I am 90% sure that you are not an educator. Thus, keep your idiotic comments to yourself. On second thought it would be a good idea to have January 20th be given as a holiday every year which celebrates the day the infamous George W. Bush left office and a honorable man by the name of Barack Hussein Obama stepped in.

hossiv
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hossiv 01/08/09 - 10:54 am
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Umm Mimsy, I do pay taxes and

Umm Mimsy,
I do pay taxes and sorry if I dont like future President Obama's tax cut plan that literally gives a check to people that DIDNT EVEN PAY A CENT IN TAXES OR FILE. At least President Bush's tax cuts went to people that were actually tax payers. I'm all about helping people who cant help themselves, but there maybe, just maybe a few million people that are cheating the system.

Jillian
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Jillian 01/08/09 - 12:38 pm
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Wonder where they will

Wonder where they will congregate to have sex that day? lol

ya-ya
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ya-ya 01/08/09 - 01:14 pm
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Tuesday January 20th was

Tuesday January 20th was already scheduled as a Professional Learning Day in Richmond County BEFORE the election. I hate this site because everything, no matter what the story is about, turns into race or hate and it is ridiculous. 2tired...people voted based on what they believed and what they wanted in their next President or the fact that what we have had for the past 8 years needed change. Why do you all believe that only Black people voted for Obama and they only voted for him because he is Black? You should know that if ALL the Black people in this country voted for him he would NOT have won the election! So stop hating and just accept the fact that he is elected and will do the best with what he has been left with.

DMac_357
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DMac_357 01/08/09 - 04:06 pm
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BEBBE - You were wondering

BEBBE - You were wondering whether any whites would be in the 5% number allowed to be off for the inauguration. Since only 22 teachers in the whole RC school system have submitted requests to be off, the potential for whites, blacks, asians, hispanics, etc., to be off is great. All they have to do is request it. I don't think all the principals in RC are black so you by your thinking, whites have a chance to get their requests approved. Remember that Bedden isn't the one approving the requests, it's the school principal who's charged to make sure only 5% of the school's teachers are allowed to be off. Once again, this isn't a race issue but you want to make it out to be one.

DMac_357
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DMac_357 01/08/09 - 04:13 pm
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Wow LORRAINE - that's really

Wow LORRAINE - that's really a good idea. I think we should celebrate the exodus of GW almost as much as we celebrate Barack being sworn in.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 01/09/09 - 01:32 am
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Someone opened the can of

Someone opened the can of worms again. A little too early for Robins. Well, if the Robins come, next it will be some Cats, who will get the robins that are looking for worms. Always some predator around. Whoa. Who let the dogs out???

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