At Thursday evening’s Chattooga BOE meeting, Supt. Jimmy Lenderman and board member John Agnew disagreed over the effectiveness of the four-day school week following an oral argument against the schedule by Agnew.

Mr. Agnew’s oral argument primarily consisted of citing statistics that suggest that the four-day week has not been effective at making Chattooga County’s school district regionally competitive in commonly used metrics of student learning.

Agnew cited statistics showing that since the four day schedule has been implemented, Chattooga County scores the lowest in Northwest Georgia on multiple metrics, including the graduation rate and CCRPI (College and Career Readiness Performance Index).

Lenderman countered Agnew with the fact that although Chattooga County School System’s graduation rates were regionally the lowest, they have been steadily improving in recent years and are the highest in the school district’s history. However, Lenderman had no response to the claim that CCRPI scores have declined in the district since 2012.

Agnew also expressed concern that the school system was generally ambivalent toward promoting students to their next grade level when the state had labeled them ‘beginning’ or ‘developing learners’. According to the state Dept. of Education website, these labels indicate that a student is not adequately prepared to move on to his or her next grade level.

Agnew also mentioned that absenteeism has steadily increased since the four day schedule was implemented. Lenderman’s counterargument was that though students may miss more individual days under the four week schedule, teachers miss fewer days on average and contribute to a higher amount of net teaching hours. He also mentioned that state requirements have recently become much stricter regarding absenteeism, noting that students can now miss much fewer days before the district’s metrics are penalized.

Lenderman added that the county is in a hard place with enforcing truancy laws because it could aggravate the jail housing situation the county is facing. He expressed an interest in developing more penalties for the guardians of students who are habitually absent.

Boardman Larry Weesner commented after the discussion that per capita incomes in the region may play an important role in absenteeism and overall parent involvement in their students’ academic lives. He also noted that Chattoogans make considerably less per capita than residents in surrounding school districts with superior metrics.

Asst. Supt. Jared Hosmer followed the discussion with a presentation on impact data related to the schedule. Details from Hosmer’s presentation will be available in tomorrow’s news.