Schools say thanks to DCS board

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 16, 2006

They work to recruit new teachers, they are pressing leaders to help build a new home for the Tigers and they are responsible for what students learn.

They are the Demopolis City School Board of Education.

In order to show board members how much the state cares from them,

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educational leaders have the entire month of January dedicated to them as Alabama celebrates the 13th annual

School Board Month.

“They do an excellent job running our system and supporting us,” Westside principal Mary Glass said about the Demopolis School Board. “It’s a good staff and they do an ongoing good job.”

Demopolis City Schools superintendent Wesley Hill described this term’s board as “exceptional.”

“They are all very progressive and I am pleased to work with them,” Hill said. “As far as school planning goes, they have four big things going on now.”

Hill said the board is currently working on a new recruiting program to bring teachers to the area, possibly increasing the number of children in the preschool program, the dual enrollment program with Alabama Southern, and “upgrading the image of our football facility.”

More than 800 Alabama board members share the tasks of controlling the budget, creating school policies, approving the curriculum, maintaining facilities all while abiding by state and federal education laws.

Board members also attend hours of training and dedicate much personal time to study in attempts to increase their knowledge of taxation, budgeting and the legalities of running a school system.

“I really don’t have a main focus right now because there are so many new things coming about,” Demopolis board member Laura G. Foster said. “There’s the Highly Qualified Teacher issue, the No Child Left Behind Act and the new Open Meetings Law.”

Although she is currently in her second year on the board, Foster said she declined her first offer to be a board member.

“I was asked if my name could be submitted and I said no the first time, but then the second time they asked me, I said yes,” Foster said. “The reason I said yes was because I had done some substitute work and I observed the problems. I also heard the problems that other teachers were having.”

Foster said two of her concerns were providing funding for the teachers to purchase necessary learning supplies and the number of students per classroom.

“If this is public education, then the public needs to supply teachers with the tools needed to teach with,” she said. “And mainstreaming all the students creates problems for everybody.”

As the only former teacher on the board, Foster said mainstreaming, or placing students with special needs into classes with children on average learning levels,

not only makes the classes larger, but may move too fast for the students with special needs or too slow for the average student. This causes problems in the classroom.

But Foster hopes to soon resolve the problems and improve the city’s learning environments.

In the meantime, Foster, along with her fellow board members Braswell Braswell, Bobby Armstead, Gary Holeman,

and James Stanford, will be recognized for the work they have already done at Tuesday night’s scheduled meeting and throughout the month.

“Each school usually does its own thing for the board. They usually have some program for them or a gift to give them at the meeting,” Hill said. “Mrs. Hill usually does something for them too.”

“Community Education has calendars with pictures of the students doing different things that we are going to give them at the meeting and they are going to be invited to the schools for lunch,” Barbara Hill said. “We always have a good bit of stuff planned for them. I think they’re excellent.”

“We do have some special things planned for them,” Glass said. “We’re going to do things having to do with the growth of the school. We’ll show them how the things they do for us allows us to do the things we do.”