Tuesday, July 28, 2009

28 JUL 09: School Surprise

If you didn't know better, you might think the Georgia High School Association is starting a poker tour. School boards are looking at the schedules, then telling teachers: "We shuffle, you deal."

The Muscogee County School Board did its own shuffling of the calendar at a special meeting Monday. Three "in-service" days for teachers were moved, because of possible state-ordered furloughs. Countless students were left disappointed -- the ones who hoped the start of the school year would be moved back, beyond a week from Thursday.

The original Muscogee County school calendar included in-service days in late October, mid-February and mid-March. But the school board voted Monday to combine those three days at the start of winter break in December. It won't quite be the sales tax holiday, but Peachtree Mall could have some extra open parking spaces.

Muscogee County Superintendent says she expects the December in-service days to disappear completely today, when the Georgia Board of Education votes on mandatory furloughs. Governor Sonny Perdue has recommended three furlough days for teachers - instead of saving state money by following Sarah Palin's example and resigning his office early.

The Georgia Board of Education has to approve a change in state rules, which require teachers to work 190 days. Critics will say this rule already gives teachers 14 weeks off in a calendar year - but they should remember something. Furloughs would give teachers extra days to listen to right-wing radio talk shows.

The in-service shuffle will NOT change the calendar year for Muscogee County students. But even before the school board's special meeting Monday, our InBox had a different scheduling idea:

The Ledger Enquirer reported Peach County Schools are going to a 4 day school week..They plan to add time to each of those 4 days to make up for the time lost..The plan calls for a savings of $400,000 in utilities and transportation..

I wonder if the Muscogee County board has looked at this plan? State technical schools are using this short week now as part of the educational budget reduction.

I assume the third "off day" under this idea would be Monday. Thursday afternoon pep rallies before a Friday night football game simply wouldn't provide the same momentum.

The school board might well look at a four-day week before long -- as Superintendent Susan Andrews told reporters the state wants cuts in transportation spending as well. But there are other ways to save in this area. For instance, having high school students push their school bus would save fuel AND provide wholesome exercise.

One of the Columbus TV stations had an online poll Monday on switching to a four-day school week. If I heard correctly, most voters like the idea. But then again, maybe those votes came from drivers dreaming of fewer slow mornings in school zones.

If you ask me, the Muscogee County School Board missed a golden opportunity here. Shouldn't the teacher furlough days be scheduled for mid-September - so parents become so annoyed with having their children at home, they'll vote for the school sales tax?

The Muscogee County School Board happened to discuss furloughs as the district's new teachers began two days of orientation at Midland Middle School. The district web site says one goal of the orientation is to explain "the 'culture' of our system." Hint: you'll find it at Columbus High School and Wynnton Arts Academy.

By the way, Governor Sonny Perdue also wants Georgia public schools to cut their nursing budgets. This is the closest Perdue has come yet to accepting health care reform....

On the Alabama side, THE 5:00 p.m. news showed summer marching band practice at Smiths Station High School. Musicians are preparing for football games and parades - and I assume at some point, they train in the fine points of selling band candy.

Now let's ring the closing bell, and clear our desks of other Monday news....

+ Federal Judge Clay Land postponed the start of the Mark Shelnutt trial until the Monday after Election Day. State Senate candidates now will be busy at local libraries, searching for any newspaper picture they can find showing Shelnutt next to an opponent.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported former Columbus Councilor Nathan Suber has filed papers to run for office next year. But which office? Will Suber take on Jerry Barnes a second time? Might he run for mayor? And would Suber dare challenge State Senator Ed Harbison, without any help from Josh McKoon?

+ The Alabama Marine Police revealed 33 arrests were made during Saturday's "Aquapalooza" concert on Lake Martin. Several people were arrested for boating under the influence - which seems strange to me, since David BUI wasn't even on the program.

+ Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama ended the grandstanding suspense, by declaring he'll vote against Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. His announcement is likely to change as many Senate votes as a rejection by the hosts of "The View."

+ The Southeastern Conference announced a new agreement to keep the football championship game at Atlanta's Georgia Dome through 2015. So much for the idea of playing the game every other year in New Orleans - which I haven't heard Nick Saban mention since he stopped coaching a team near New Orleans.

+ The Indy Racing League announced it will hold a "Grand Prix of Alabama" race next year. The site will be a six-year-old track in suburban Birmingham - NOT in Talladega, where too many race fans would have trouble pronouncing Prix correctly.

+ WLTZ showed part of the Fort Benning Third Brigade's recent training program in California. One exercise includes hundreds of "role players" pretending to occupy an Iraqi town - and some of the actors are native Iraqis, who may be waiting for their "big break" in a Michael Moore movie about waterboarding.

+ Instant Message to WRBL's Ashley Ball: How did you get away with that? I mean, posting a Twitter message on your station's site saying you'd be watching Stephanie Tiso on WLTZ? Is there yet another media crossover coming -- or have you found a new job?

COMING SOON: A man asks for a form of baby food.... except his baby isn't born yet....

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