By: Laura-Jane Hatcher (WRGA News)
Tuesday night marked Dr. Jeff Bearden’s first Rome City School Board meeting since his November hire as Superintendent.
In the fifth week of his new seat, Bearden shared with board members his positive first impressions of the city schools, citing in particular how efficiently staff and teachers reacted to the January 30th tornado warning. And, though Bearden had nothing but praise for the system so far, he did set clear goals for the future of the schools.
“I’m a huge proponent of technology and integrating technology into the classroom. We do have technology in Rome City Schools, but I think we need to look at how effectively we’re using it,” Bearden says.
“In my experience, when technology is used effectively, kids are more engaged; they find their learning to be more relevant. And, if they’re more engaged, and they find it to be more relevant, they typically achieve on a higher level. So, I’m really optimistic we can move further on that technology initiative.”
On that same vein of technology, Bearden says he’d like to introduce 21st century skills into the curriculum, while simultaneously reaching out into the community to utilize the abundant resources Rome has to offer.
And, with Floyd County School employees living in the shadow of imminent cut-backs, Bearden assures his staff that they’re not facing the same widespread layoffs.
He credits both his predecessor Gayland Cooper and the school board for their careful budgeting, which he says has allowed the city to dodge instruction cutbacks.
“Rome City has done a very good job in making reductions incrementally,” he says. “They’ve been reducing staff consistently for several years now, not doing it all at once, but a little bit at a time. We’re in a position where I don’t foresee us making huge, significant cuts for next year. We’re not in a good place; we’re not where we want to be. We might have as many as 8-10 furlough days in the next year, but we probably won’t have to make draconian cuts like you’re seeing in other school systems.”
Public schools all across the state are dealing with similar funding cuts, and though city staff aren’t facing the pink slip, shrinking revenues keep Rome students from attending school the recommended 180 days.
As for Floyd County employees, sources claim they could know who has a job for the 2014 school year as early as Friday.