Marietta school board to retreat to Stone Mountain, mull changes
by Hannah Morgan
February 27, 2014 04:00 AM | 2058 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A.L. Burruss Elementary School fourth-grader Tyler Cobb does some research on his classroom laptop for a project he is working on in Christina Updyke’s class in December. <br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
A.L. Burruss Elementary School fourth-grader Tyler Cobb does some research on his classroom laptop for a project he is working on in Christina Updyke’s class in December.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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MARIETTA — The Marietta Board of Education will escape to Stone Mountain for a retreat next week to discuss changes in the school system and the year ahead.

All seven board members, accompanied by Superintendent Emily Lembeck and members of the district’s central staff, are preparing for a two-day retreat at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Center at Stone Mountain on March 7 and 8.

The board’s 2013 retreat, also at Stone Mountain, cost the district $5,600, spokesman Thomas Algarin said. He expected this year’s retreat to cost about the same.

The nearly $6,000 covers the hotel rooms, conference space and meals for board and staff members.

Two new members joined the board in January, Jeriene Bonner-Grimes and Jason Waters, and need to be caught up on legalities and general information about the district, Algarin said.

Board members say the time away from Marietta gives them a chance to bond and make progress on planning for the coming year.

“It’s good for the board to get out of town, to work together as a group for two solid days and interact with one another and discuss,” said board Chairman Randy Weiner.

Weiner has been on the board for eight years and said the board has held a similar retreat each year he has been involved.

The official agenda for the retreat has yet to be posted. In the past, the board has discussed the coming year’s budget, changes in the curriculum and teacher compensation plans and certain legal issues.

The school board meets twice a year for mandatory board training, once in-house in the fall and once at a retreat nearby.

February break to be flexible

At a meeting Tuesday night, the board voted unanimously to approve amending next year’s scheduled February Break to potentially be used as snow day make-up days instead of as time off.

“In the past eight years, we have had two major snow events. We need to be better

prepared for the next one, if one comes up,” Weiner said.

February 17 to 20, 2015, is scheduled to be the district’s February break, but the four days after President’s Day may be converted to school days to catch up on lost classroom time if the district has to cancel school for inclement weather next year, Lembeck said.

There is no way of predicting what the weather may be a year from now, Lembeck stressed, and likely would not be able to determine if the district would use the four days as class time or as break time until shortly before the break itself. These four days will act as “insurance” for the board to use only if needed.

The board voted last week to extend 16 school days by one hour in March in order to make up for the nine days of missed instruction time because of the two snowstorms this year. Board members said they have heard from a lot of concerned parents, upset their students will have to stay in school longer.

Weiner said he hoped the flexible February days would eliminate the need for lengthened school days in years to come.

“It should keep us from having to extend school days,” Weiner said. “I’ve heard from a good many of kindergarten and first-grade parents that did not want the day extended,” this year.

Moving forward, Lembeck and Weiner said they hoped the district would schedule the February break as potential snow make-up days, so the district would always have an option other than lengthening school days to make up for lost time.

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