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Board of Education Shares Priorities with Legislators for 2019

Submission Date: January 11, 2019

Release Date:  For Immediate Release

Contact: J.D. Hardin, 770-957-6601 ext. 161, john.hardin@henry.k12.ga.us

(Release # 0017-1-19)

Legislative Priorities 2019

Board of Education Shares Priorities with Legislators for 2019

 

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Each year ahead of the General Assembly convening in Atlanta, the Henry County Board of Education formally adopts a set of priorities they encourage the local delegation to keep in mind during their work as a part of the annual legislative session.

The local board took action during its November meeting to adopt a slate of four main priorities to share with the county’s 10 elected legislators – two senators and eight representatives. 

No one priority is weighted more than the others are, but they each have their own unique relevance around timely issues for the state and public education.

Of particular relevance to schools over the past few years is the issue of school security.  In Henry County Schools, the safety and security of our students and staff are of utmost importance.  To that end, our board is urging state legislators to support school security by partnering with local boards to devise a comprehensive strategy and attain the necessary training and resources to secure schools against a full range of risks. 

Another focus point for the board’s priorities includes support for teacher and leader recruitment and retention.  The need for highly qualified teachers is stronger than ever, which makes the fact that there are declining numbers of college students choosing teaching and education as a profession a tough challenge.  School districts, including Henry County Schools, work hard at recruiting and do a great job highlighting their districts to potential employees.  Staffing challenges are not from a lack of trying.  It is getting more difficult to hire and retain quality teachers when there are other options – industry-wise and school systems – with better wages and benefits to entice professionals away from an already thin workforce.  Attrition is something that will also continue to present difficulties to staffing our classrooms. 

Board members in Henry County are asking legislators to help reduce the critical shortage of teachers by permitting retired educators to return to teaching without penalty.  With such a stable retirement system, employees are more inclined to retire when they hit the 30-year mark.  However, many great teachers would still keep teaching beyond this threshold if restrictions were alleviated.  Additionally, there is a crucial need for legislators to allocate financial resources to ensure competitive salaries and benefits, while also establishing a service cancellable loan program for students graduating from a teacher education program of the University System of Georgia.

With an ever-increasing focus on student achievement, educators understand that reaching and supporting student learning at an early age ensures the greatest opportunity for success for all students.  Henry County Schools currently has nine Pre-K programs in the district, but the board is asking the state legislature to increase access to DECAL Pre-K programs.  There is also a need for support in district development of early Kindergarten and other birth-to-age five learning initiatives.  

Lastly, the board recognizes and values the local control it is afforded to ensure a high-performing district. 

During this legislative session, our local delegation is urged to safeguard the responsibility and authority of local school boards for the direction, advancement, and governance of the public schools.  There is also a desire to enable strategic waiver school districts to attain flexibility comparable to charter districts. 

Moreover, when it comes to accountability for schools and student performance, it is asked that the legislature establish a single public education accountability system that is clear and reliable.  Multiple accountability systems in existence often create confusion and a fracture for people when choosing how to measure their respective school district.

You can find out more about the Henry County Board of Education at www.henry.k12.ga.us.

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