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CCS after-school program sees good response

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Chilton County Schools has seen a good response to its new after-school program.

An update was given to the Chilton County Board of Education during a meeting on Aug. 17.

Clanton Elementary has the largest attendance at 609, and Jemison Elementary has 360. However, students from every school are participating at the various locations.

The number of students attending prompted the approval of additional staff for the program at the meeting. Board member Keith Moore abstained, and Lori Patterson was absent.

While most attend the program at their school or the closest elementary school, students from Maplesville are attending the program at Isabella High. Board President Pam Price said there are now new teachers at MHS that would be interested in working the program at their school.

Chilton County Schools Superintendent Jason Griffin said this was something that could be looked into.

A vote to create a coordinator of literacy to oversee programs required by the Alabama Literacy Act failed.

Price, Moore, Sullivan and Diane Calloway voted against. Brad Carter and Chris Smith voted in favor.

Price said an outside firm the school system hired to evaluate the various central office departments had recommended the Department of Teaching and Learning, which the position would be a part of, should be looked at for dividing responsibilities in different ways.

“This is not a department that they recommended us puting another position in,” Price said.

Griffin said creating the position was the recommendation of himself and Department of Teaching and Learning director Ashlie Harrison.

He said those in the department are already doing the work of multiple people, as were many others at the Central Office. Griffin said the report did say that the Teaching and Learning director position had too many responsibilities.

Chief School Financial Officer Alisa Benson explained that the Literacy Act requirements came into effect after the firm had done its evaluation.

Sullivan asked what else the director of the department oversaw. Benson explained that in addition to things needed for teaching and learning, Harrison also handled the federal programs, which most school systems have as a separate position.

“It’s a lot,” Benson said.

Literacy Act requirements include after-school literacy learning opportunities and a summer program. Benson stressed that these programs would have to happen with or without a literacy coordinator. The act was passed in 2019, but school systems were given some time to fully implement it. However, the act did not secure funding to meet the requirements, according to Griffin.

Applying for federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds was recommended as a way for paying for the position for three years. Griffin said this was needed whether the school system received the funding or not.

The position would qualify for the funding because it deals with helping with literacy loss from time when students were not in class because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Price asked if the funds could be used to hire a teacher to reduce class room size for those that may have 25 to 30 students.

Also during the meeting, the board approved:

  • The resignation of a teacher assistant at Maplesville High School.
  • Hiring a part-time teaching assistant for Jemison High School and two teachers for Isabella High School. One of the Isabella positions was hired on an emergency certification, meaning they will be working on their teaching certification while they are teaching.
  • Allowing up to five days of vacation time to rollover for 12-month employees for one year. The board had previously approved having this policy be under review.
  • Memorandums of Understanding for law enforcement in the schools to be considered by local governments of Clanton, Jemison, Maplesville and Thorsby as well as the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office.