The Rome City School Board met briefly Tuesday night before board members headed off to the Teacher of the Year Banquet, but before they left they discussed alternative discipline measures for elementary school students during their caucus.
“We have got to get disruption out of the classroom,” Superintendent Lou Byars said. “It may not be more than two or three students per school, but as we all know one student can disrupt an entire hallway.”
As an alternative to suspension, Byars is suggesting the system make elementary students who have serious behavior issues attend afternoon classes for a short time until they can become integrated back into the classroom. The students would be in school from 2:30-6 p.m. Byars said, meaning the system would have to pay teachers extra for staying after hours. To make up for this, the system is holding off on hiring a maintenance person.
Board Chair Faith Collins and board member Elaina Beeman both voiced doubts about this method. Collins is concerned the system may be rewarding bad behavior by allowing kids shorter school days. Beeman is worried that the schools are not doing what they can to get to the root of students’ behavior problems.
“The problem is they want to be suspended and go home,” Byars said. “They lose the privilege of having art and music if we do this.”
Board member Melissa Davis thanked Byars for trying to come up with a different solution than suspensions and Vice Chair Jill Fisher agreed. Before any student would be enrolled in the after-school program, they would first have to be recommended by their principal and approved by the superintendent. The board did not sign any resolution Tuesday night to put this program in place since Byars is still ironing out details.
Tuesday night the board did vote to approve several new hires and fundraising requests. Leslie Dixon, director of school improvement, shared how the system celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month and Wesley Styles, principal of East Central Elementary, shared the climate of his school. The board also decided to hold off on the vote to place red light traffic cameras in front of Rome High School during this month’s meeting.