On Monday night, the Hall County school board approved paying:
- $6,000 to continue the McEver Elementary School violin program.
- $324,923 from its sales tax revenue fund for servers and technology at various schools.
- $97,025 from its sales tax revenue fund for renovations at Davis Middle, Chestatee High, West Hall High, Flowery Branch High, East Hall High and White Sulphur Elementary.
The Hall County school board unanimously approved the wording for nearly 2,000 teacher contracts that guarantee teachers’ pay according to the state’s minimum salary schedule but does not define the system’s local salary supplement.
Hall County schools Superintendent Will Schofield said Monday the contracts ensure the system’s nearly 2,000 teachers will be paid the state minimum, but he is hopeful the system will be able to pay teachers a local supplement. According to this school year’s teacher contract, the local supplement equals 10 percent of teacher salaries.
Schofield said to absorb lagging state and local revenues, the local supplement may carry a 2 percent to 3 percent pay cut for teachers and all system employees for the 2009-10 school year.
"We fully anticipate giving a local supplement," he said. "And if we had to guess now, we’d guess that’s between 7 and 10 percent."
Schofield said the renewed contracts will be sent to teachers after the school board’s April 13 meeting. The state deadline for offering teachers renewed contracts is April 15.
Richard Hill, assistant superintendent for Hall County schools, said teachers will have 30 days to consider the contracts. In past years, the superintendent has allowed teachers only 10 days to consider a renewed contract, Hill said.
"We thought it was only right that in these uncertain times that we extend that," Schofield said.
Earlier this month, 100 Hall County teachers learned they would not be offered contracts for next school year.
Before the school board hammered out the financial details of running 34 schools, numerous Hall County teachers informed the board on how they are developing academic programs to help students learn.
Eloise Barron, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for Hall County schools, said five schools continue to explore charter status. Barron said Martin, McEver, Spout Springs and Wauka Mountain Elementary are ready to send letters of intent to the state Department of Education stating they plan to operate as charter schools in the 2010-11 school year. Schofield said several other schools, including Sardis Elementary School, Chestatee and South Hall middle schools and Johnson High School, are researching their charter school possibilities.
Sally Krisel, rigor specialist for Hall County schools who oversees gifted programs, also presented a new art and science program to the school board Monday.
Krisel said the da Vinci School pilot program will open in August at South Hall Middle School. The building will be largely vacant next school year when building renovations mean South Hall Middle students must relocate to Davis Middle. Krisel said da Vinci students likely will be housed in the new wing of South Hall Middle.
The program will instruct 120 students using six teachers certified in multiple middle school subjects. Only sixth- and seventh-graders will be eligible to participate in the da Vinci School this August.
Krisel said the program will teach students the state curriculum standards through the lenses of art and science. She said students will also study Spanish and Mandarin Chinese at the school.
Technology will also play a big role at the school where all students will have their own laptop.
"The time is so right on this because folks are looking for something unique, especially in science and math," she said.
Schofield said it will take about 40 percent less money per student to operate the da Vinci School compared to a typical middle school.
Krisel said the school will not offer traditional cafeteria, media center or English language learner services to cut down on costs. She said students will be asked to bring their own lunches, but lunches will be provided for low-income students.
Four informational meetings for parents and students will be held on April 20-22. Krisel said high-performing sixth- and seventh-graders district wide who are creative and independent learners will be considered for the school.