School Board holds forum

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Selma Times Journal

In the dimly lit auditorium of Selma High School, parents, grandparents, students and citizens gathered to voice their praises, concerns and criticisms to the Selma City School Board at a public forum Tuesday night.

Board chairman Benjamin Givan and superintendent James Carter welcomed the attendees and reminded them that the purpose of the forum was not to point fingers, but to achieve a &8220;world class school system&8221; in Selma.

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Tardiness and unexcused absences was a popular topic among parents. If a student receives an excessive amount of tardies or unexcused absences, parents or guardians are fined $500 and could face arrest and a one-year jail sentence under Alabama’s truancy law.

Parents said they are frustrated with having to pay these fines and suggested the school system implement after school detention or Saturday detention for tardy students.

Parents also inquired about where their fine money was going. Carter said the school board does not handle the fines and the monies go towards purchasing uniforms for children whose families may not be able to afford them. When parents asked for a full account of the funds, Carter replied that would not be a problem.

Throughout the forum, parents questioned the board about the &8220;ambiguous&8221; language of the No Child Left Behind Program, textbooks, the state of the science and math curriculums, and the certifications of special education teachers.

Another controversial issue among parents and students was the school system’s recent switch from a block schedule to a seven-period schedule.

Students from Selma High School addressed their concerns to the board, saying the new schedule does not allot them enough class time and thinks students should get a vote on what schedule works best for them since they are the ones experiencing the schedule change first hand. Students also commented on the &8220;uncaring attitude among administration and teachers.&8221;

Parents and citizens were not shy in giving the board suggestions. Parents said they would like to see the hiring of a part time counselor for parents and teachers with children with special needs as well as an assistant superintendent to assist Carter.

Carter said the board is currently looking for an assistant superintendent.

Parents also suggested implementing a laptop computer program for children who do not have computers in the home.

The forum was a first time event for the school board. As questions began to wind down, Givan requested a show of hands for those who would like to have a forum next year. Nearly everyone in the auditorium raised their hand.

Givan invited the audience to attend the next school board meeting.

One citizen thanked the school board for being forthright with the public.