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Fulton school board debates nothing
by Noreen Lewis Cochran
ncochran@neighbornewspapers.com
September 20, 2012 09:09 PM | 2683 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Fulton County Board of Education approved 30 items without discussion via a consent agenda at its regular meeting Thursday at Dunwoody Springs Elementary School in Sandy Springs, making the vote the first in the sitting board’s history without items for separate discussion and subsequent adoption or denial.

Those items included 16 board policies — part of an ongoing housekeeping routine to bring regulations up to date or consistent with state requirements — Georgia Power easement rights behind Hopewell Middle School and Woodland Elementary School and a new cell tower lease at Westlake High School.

The consent agenda also included new information from the IRS regarding pension board overpayments.

More than $3 million in overpayments to 400 retirees were made in the 20 years between 1988 and 2008, averaging about $7,500 each.

The school board’s vote Thursday acknowledged an option to repay the pension fund on behalf of retirees, but took no action on making that payment, now $3.2 million with interest.

Recovery under the current Fulton County Schools System pension plan includes reducing future payments to retirees.

Barbara Ashley, a 30-year veteran of the system who retired in 2001, pleaded for clemency.

“The reimbursement will be difficult for all and nearly impossible for a few,” the Smyrna resident said. “I ask you to give very serious and compassionate attention to the retirees who are caught in a dilemma not of their own making.”

A second public speaker, Tony Caruso of Alpharetta, spoke about Alpharetta High School.

“The concept that’s being used in my son’s math class, which is one of the issues at hand, is seriously flawed, at least as it is being practiced by this particular teacher,” he said.

Math instruction and testing also concerned Wayne Bellcross, the Fulton County Schools System executive director of accountability, who reported on standardized tests.

“As a result of the shifting and changing in the math curriculum, we have students on different paths in terms of which [tests] count for graduation and a diploma,” he said.

In other reports, Superintendent Robert Avossa said the system’s five-year strategic plan will be “rolled out” Oct. 10 at the Fox Theatre in Midtown and the 2013-15 school calendars are open to public feedback.

Chief Strategy Officer Ken Zeff said the new charter system will begin holding elections for school governing councils beginning Oct. 26, and there will be four information sessions to acquaint parents with the procedure.

What’s next?

School governance information sessions:

 Sept. 24, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Autrey Mill Middle School, 4110 Old Alabama Road, Johns Creek

 Sept. 27, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Milton High School, 13025 Birmingham Hwy., Alpharetta

 Oct. 1, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Westlake High, 2400 Union Road, East Point

 Oct. 2, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Riverwood International Charter School, 5900 Raider Drive, Sandy Springs

Strategic plan debut:

 Oct. 10, 9 to 11 a.m., Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St., Midtown
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