Suwannee Democrat

October 3, 2013

HamCo school board workshop highlights

Joyce Marie Taylor
Suwannee Democrat

Jasper — At a Sept. 23 Hamilton County School Board workshop, attendance procedures for student transfers, as well as supplemental coaching position requirements and out-of-state travel were discussed at length.

Attendance procedures for student transfers

Superintendent Tom Moffses said in a recent review of district procedures for incoming student transfers, it was noted that some changes needed to be made. All the district has now is a form for transfer students to fill out that releases them from one county so they can enroll in another county.

“Once we accept them, there are no requirements that are tied to that if we have complications with that student,” said Moffses.

Board members then reviewed a preliminary draft of a new form for transfer students. In the draft, some additional language will address minimum grade and attendance requirements, as well as discipline issues.

“All of these are items that can trigger them being returned back to their home county from here,” Moffses explained.

Although the draft is not in its final form yet, Moffses said he wanted the board to review it and come back at a later workshop with any questions, concerns or feedback before it is finalized and voted on.

“This is not something that would take effect for this current year, but it’s something we are working to have in place for next year,” he said.

Board members Johnny Bullard and Jeanie Daniels said they were in favor of it.

“Not all cases, but in some cases, we do receive some students who have had challenges in other districts, and that’s the reason they want to come here to school,” said Bullard.

It would be prudent, Bullard continued, for the guidance counselor to call the other district from which a student is transferring and ask questions as to why the student wants to transfer.

Moffses said, “We do want to accept students when we can and enhance our student population. We want to make sure there are some stipulations tied to that, so that it protects the district, if need be.”

Supplemental coaching position requirements

In an effort to cut costs, it was suggested that the district require supplemental athletic coaches to have a CDL driver’s license, so they are available to drive student athletes to and from games, rather than having someone from the transportation department having to hang around for the game to end so they can transport students back to the school.

Director of Administrative Services Philip Pinello said the district in the past has had that requirement and it did save money.

“We’re always in the business to save money anywhere that it can be cost-effective,” said Daniels.

Daniels noted that a lot of the coaches in the district already have CDL licenses. Bullard said he remembers in the past that the varsity coaches especially, said they had a lot to think about on the way to the games and that to be distracted from that by having to concentrate on driving the bus wasn’t something they wanted to do, even though they were given supplemental pay for it.

“I would like to see how much savings it would be to the district if we implemented it,” said Bullard.

For the athletic department, Moffses said one of their major costs is transportation and the district is looking at ways to help them cut costs so they can have more money for equipment.

“While I appreciate the comments that some of the coaches are tied up with other things, at the same time, the same coaches are saying we need other equipment, other funding sources, and they can actually help themselves by driving the buses,” Moffses said.

Costs involved for CDL training and certifications is something the district is looking into. Moffses said he would get the costs broken out and given to the board to review.

Out-of-state travel

It was not on the agenda, but Moffses shared some concerns with the board about out-of-state travel, specific to day-to-day operations, which must be approved in advance. He said there are a lot of available resources just across the border in Valdosta and anyone from the district who goes there must get advance approval. He suggested that some changes to current policy need to be implemented to address those concerns.

Since the board has to approve all out-of-state travel and since they only meet once a month, Moffses said a lot of times getting approval to travel to Valdosta, in order to save money on products or services, has not been possible and it wound up costing the district more money because they had to utilize local resources.

Moffses suggested they add specific language to the district’s policy to address the situation.