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Superintendent, BoE send wrong message on school attendance

I was going to write sooner; however, I wanted to see what really happened during the three “make-up” days instituted by the Fayette County School Board and the new superintendent, Dr. Bearden.

I did an informal poll of the middle and high school students in my neighborhood and their parents, and the consensus was that there was little new material taught and much of the school day non-value added.

I am disappointed that our school board and new superintendent took a middle of the road approach to the importance of class attendance.

In a letter to all parents explaining what was to happen during winter break, Dr. Bearden writes, “The board realizes that families and employees schedule family vacation around winter break and we will exercise flexibility in order to meet the needs of our community ... the rationales for rescheduling these days is to maximize instructional time for our students ... If your child will not attend school during any of the make-up days, be sure to send a signed written excuse to the principal of your school.”

The school board and Dr. Bearden were smart enough to anticipate the outrage they would hear from faculty and parents (with planned trips) if they did not allow the excuse. However, aren’t they smart enough to realize what a waste of time and money these three days were going to become?

When the message is: Attendance is not mandatory, do what you want, what do you think will happen?

I would be very interested to know what percentage of teachers (not substitutes) and students attended last week.

If attendance is really important and they wanted to really maximize instructional time, then they should have added three days to the end of the year. Simple as that.

However, they punted and went with a middle of the road decision to appease all factors.

The school board and new superintendent can dress up the decision as much as they like; however, the result was still ugly and they should have anticipated it.

What I learned is that the school board’s idea of maximizing instructional time for our students is way off. They really just wanted to check a box and say they met the state-required instructional time.

I expect better and have higher expectations of our Fayette School Board and Dr. Bearden. I will be curiously watching to see if there are any lessons learned if this were to happen again.

Michael Chrzanowski

Peachtree City, Ga.



They have learned one thing - look at the calendar for next year's winter break. It will be used if needed as make-up days. So, next year if you gamble and plan a vacation - the absence will not be excused.

I saw my neighbors around during the week and the joke was "they were skiing" ha ha. Kids were staying home, but had sent the note in. The way FCBOE handled it was a disappointing answer to the problem.

The Wedge's picture

I think that anyone who sent a note in and did not do what the note said was helping their child slide into moral bankruptcy. I feel the same way about those parents that allow their 10 year old to sign into facebook, state that they are 13 and then have a page. What behaviors are they reinforcing in their children?
Now the winter break classes were a joke. The administration of my kids' schools kept stating over and over again that there would be no new instruction and parents should take their kids and go somewhere. When we did go on vacation mid week, we were cheered. It was quite odd.
Next time, they need to have a plan for making it up before hand and stick to it. They also need to communicate it in next year's calendar and treat any makeup days like real school and real instruction. What happened this time was a bit laughable.

If citizens are truly interested in the attendance during the Winter Break week, those numbers are available- ask at your child's school. I only know the numbers for one elementary school, and they do not match the comments posted here. A VERY small percentage of students were absent, and only 2 teachers in the entire school were not present. The teachers were told that if they chose to go on vacation, they would be required to make up the time later and no substitutes would be hired. Their class would be divided amongst the remaining grade level teachers. In other words, go on vacation if you like, but extra work will be placed on your peers. Most teachers chose to cancel plans and attend those three days. HOWEVER, no one seems to mention that Dr. Bearden- the supposed leader of the school system- did go on his tropical vacation those three days. A case of "Do as I say...not as I do".

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