BOE seeks chief for its new police department

The Grady County Board of Education held a retreat Monday evening at the VanLandingham Center and discussed a variety of topics.
The board moved forward with the adoption of a new weapons policy that was introduced last week to permit school system employees hired as officers with the new Grady County School System Police Department to be armed and carry weapons on school campuses.
The board discussed moving forward with the advertising for a police chief and additional school resource officers.
“We will begin advertising this week,” school superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard said Monday night.
“The sooner the better,” board member Jeff Worsham responded.
According to the superintendent, his plan is to first hire a chief and then utilize the chief to coordinate the hiring of the additional officers for the system’s new police force.
Some minor changes to the job description presented by Gilliard were suggested.
“The successful officer will be someone who likes interacting with kids. Someone students are comfortable going to and talking to,” Worsham said.
“Almost like a social worker more than a police officer,” board chairman John White commented.
Board member Laura Register said that she prefers to have an officer at school board meetings even when controversial topics are not on the agenda.
Gilliard said he is hopeful he can have the chief and officers hired by the end of December.
Other topics discussed were school system report cards and evaluations as well as program offerings of the College and Career Academy at Cairo High School.
With regards to grades assigned to local schools by the state, Dr. Gilliard noted that every year the criteria changes which makes it impossible to compare year to year results. He said the same is true in many cases for test scores.
The discussion prompted some board members to ask if the superintendent could not develop a local report card.
Gilliard said that questions regarding accountability need to be addressed all the way to the top in Atlanta. The superintendent said it is a bad situation when the state’s governor and legislature do not support the state school superintendent.
“We have the state superintendent saying we are going to reduce mandated testing, but the governor and legislature are supporting additional testing,” Dr. Gilliard said.
Board members were presented information on the pathways offered through the College and Career Academy as well as information on where Cairo High School students were involved in work-based learning. Currently, there are 43 students working in 33 different businesses.
School system officials admit too many of those are working in fast food establishments and board members expressed their desire to see students involved in more meaningful work.
“I don’t want another employer to complain to me that they don’t receive any applications from students from Cairo High School,” board member Teresa Gee Harris said Monday evening.
Chairman White said the College and Career Academy is not just for the high school and students, but for the benefit of the community and local employers.
Harris said she wanted to see more graduates of CHS, who do not decide to further their education, have skills and training so that they can go to work with local employers such as Koyo.

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