By ASHLEY AMASON
The Walton County District School Board meeting on July 15, 2008, began with members accepting a Master Board award which signifies each individual’s level of skill and knowledge in their position, and recognizes the rigorous training members underwent to qualify for the award. Board members honored were Darrell Barnhill, Mark Davis, Bill Laird, Sharon Roberts, Mildred Wilkerson, and Superintendent Carlene Anderson.
As the order of business resumed, the Board unanimously approved the Student Progression Plan for the 2008-2009 school year. Significant changes from last year include procedures for transfer students with disciplinary issues. According to the new plan, students currently under suspension or expulsion from another state or district will not be allowed to enroll in Walton County schools until their suspension/expulsion term has passed.
Other notable changes in the Student Progression Plan implement 90 minutes of uninterrupted daily reading for elementary students, the Career Dual Enrollment Program for high school students, and home school participation in extracurricular activities provided the student has pending a 2.0 GPA. Also, the motion carried to approve Supplemental Education Services and the Student Handbook for the 2008-2009 school year.
Likewise, the Board unanimously approved an amendment to Board Policy No. 6.13 regarding years of service for administrative and instructional personnel. Under this amendment, beginning with school year 2008-2009, teachers will not be given credit for years of experience for which they are drawing retirement funds. The recommendation of this amendment arose after an evaluation of the 2006-2007 school year when twelve retired teachers were hired at a cost of $857,393.64 (salary and benefits) for an average cost of $71,449.47 each. In an effort to find cost-cutting measures, the Board determined for the cost of hiring twelve teachers with twenty-five years experience, twenty-one beginning teachers could have been hired. The implementation of this amendment is expected to save the District $250,000-$365,000 annually. This amendment will not affect current employees.
School construction concerns also made their way to the Board’s agenda. All School Board members approved the construction change orders from Dooley Mack Contractors for Walton High School, which includes a new scoreboard logo, in addition to approving the $33,350 test and balance proposal for Mossy Head School.
Mark Gardner updated the Board on various school improvement projects throughout Walton County. This year’s theme, Gardner stated, is “Linking Learning to Life.” The South Walton athletic fields are being developed, he said, as are the Walton High School baseball and softball fields which will receive turf and irrigation upgrades. The sixth-grade wing and athletic fields at Walton Middle School are undergoing renovation. The largest improvements, however, have been at Mossy Head School, which stands to be completed on July 31, 2008.