During Friday’s board meeting, the board also set a May 19 date for a public forum on the topic of building an auditorium at Marietta High School and made a number of high-level personnel changes.
Board Chairwoman Irene Berens said the GSBA and GSA are asking school boards across the state to adopt a vision statement that includes such guidelines as electing board members in a nonpartisan election and adopting a “K-3 non-graded integrated education model,” also known as standards-based grading.
Berens said the GSBA and GSA came up with the vision in response to criticism from Georgia legislators who accuse the groups of constantly opposing lawmakers’ proposals for education.
“So they wanted to come forward with something everyone could get behind,” Berens said.
Marietta school board members said they support most of the points in the vision statement, such as having nonpartisan elections.
“I don’t think you need a partisan school board,” Berens said. “I think you have enough issues without bringing in Republican and Democrat issues. In the 10 years I’ve served, I can see a difference in the fact that we don’t have those issues.”
Elections for Marietta school board members are nonpartisan, unlike those for the Cobb school board.
Board member Jill Mutimer said Marietta parents want their children to receive letter grades.
“It’s more tangible,” she said.
Marietta assigns letter grades to students in all grades except kindergarten, where the student receives a “satisfactory,” “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory” rating, said Dr. Debra Pickett, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
Board member Randy Weiner said parents want letter grades in addition to the “standards-based” progress reports.
“Parents should have an overall score per subject in addition to a list of standards students have to achieve, not in place of them,” Weiner said. “They expect a letter grade because that will give you the overall accomplishment for the subject.”
Berens asked Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck to write a resolution adopting the vision statement with the caveat that it is not endorsing the clause eliminating grading in K-3 grades for the board’s Tuesday meeting.
In 2009, the Cobb school board, despite public objection, approved the implementation of 3-2-1 standards-based report cards. The Cobb district already used standards-based report cards in kindergarten through second grade. That means it uses numbers in place of traditional letter grades: "1" means the student does not meet standards; "2" indicates progress toward standards; and "3" indicates standards are met.
In other business, the board set a date of May 19 at a yet to be determined time and location for a public forum on whether they should move forward with building a 900-seat theater at Marietta High School. Marietta High is the only high school in Cobb without a theater, Berens said.
A concrete slab was poured for a theater when the school was being built in 2000, but the project was killed when the cost of the new school ran $20 million over budget, Weiner said.
Danny Smith, director of maintenance and support, estimates the theater would cost $8.6 million.
The board also promoted Marietta Sixth Grade Academy Principal Dayton Hibbs to assistant superintendent for operations, technology and assessment effective June 1, replacing Preston Howard, who is retiring. Hibbs salary will be raised from $85,102 to $93,031.
In addition, the board hired Cindy Culver, who currently works as a nutrition supervisor for the Cobb School District, as its new director of food service at a salary of $82,879. Culver replaces Sandy Laffan, who is retiring.
The board also accepted the resignation of West Side Elementary School Principal Jennifer Lawson. Mutimer said Lawson has served as principal for three years, and was leaving to accept a job at an unknown location.