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New positions requested
OCS Chief Human Resources Officer Justin Cofer discussed projected new teaching positions for the 2024 to 2025 school year. Cofer projected needing one high school regular education teaching position and one general regular education position in FY25 for the 2024 to 2025 school year as a result of enrollment growth and keep the ratio of one teacher per every 22.5 students.
Cofer also projected needing one new English to Speakers of Other Languages teaching position in FY25, making a total of 10 ESOL teachers.
When budgeting for the projected positions, Cofer said they assume the average teacher has a masters degree and 15 to 16 years of experience, setting their salary at $68,562 for a total budget impact of $105,916 per teacher, including benefits and retirement payments.
Cofer also discussed special education staffing and said it was unique, as it depends on each child’s needs but he projected needing three new special education teaching positions for a total of eight teachers and three new special education paraprofessional positions in FY25. Cofer estimated the budget impact for the three teaching positions will be a total of $317,748, and the impact of the three paraprofessional positions will be $138,000.
BOE member Ryan Hammock asked about receiving government funding for the special education positions. Superintendent Jason Branch said state and federal funding are available with the amount, depending on what category each student falls under. Branch said flexibility would be added into the budget in case there are more teachers needed than currently projected.
OCS Chief Technology Officer Ryan White requested adding one Technology Support Technician II position with an estimated salary of $30,632 from the general fund for the 2024-2025 school year. OCS currently has two employees in the Technology Support Technician II role that White said are responsible for six schools each and the central office campuses.
“They’re unable to hit every school in a week,” White said.
The additional role would mean each TST II would have four schools to visit weekly and could provide services to the system offices with more flexibility, White said.
OCS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Susan Stancil discussed curriculum additions needed to meet requirements passed in the Georgia Literacy Act, also known as House Bill 538, and Georgia’s Dyslexia efforts in Senate Bill 48. All proposed additions or renewals would be implemented this summer.
Stancil said OCS needed a core reading program aligned with the science of reading, such as Fundations, which is already used for phonics. Stancil proposed Benchmark Workshop, a Kindergarten through third grade writing program with an estimated six-year total cost of $775,666 and estimated annual cost of $129,277 from the General Fund with a timeline of this summer.Stancil said Fundations and Benchmark Workshop combined would equal a core reading program, and if they pay upfront for six years, they’ll receive a better price.
Stancil said literacy is measured through reading and math assessments, end of grade tests, Milestones and end of course tests that have seen “major improvements.” Stancil said OCS gives the MAP assessment three times per year to kindergarten through eighth grade students to screen for dyslexia, and there is a need to add the MAP Fluency screener to meet bill requirements.
MAP Fluency is a kindergarten through third grade Universal Dyslexia Screener in which students speak into the computer. It has an estimated annual cost of $18,000 that will be funded in Fiscal Year 2025 by the Georgia Department of Education and funded in FY26 from the general fund.
Stancil said MAP Fluency would likely replace one of the MAP reading, language arts or math assessments once a year and has already been piloted in three classrooms at each elementary school. Stancil proposed renewing science and social studies curriculum in kindergarten through 12th grade that was approved by the BOE in 2018.
Stancil proposed renewing the kindergarten through fifth grade science curriculum, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for six years at an estimated total cost of $388,399 and estimated annual cost of $64,733 from the General Fund.
Next, Stancil proposed renewing the kindergarten through fifth grade social studies curriculum, Studies Weekly, that has new features for an estimated total five-year cost of $210,280 and estimated annual cost of $42,056 from the general fund.
The final proposed renewal was for sixth through 12th grade social studies and science curriculum from a combination of vendors McGraw Hill, Bedford, Freeman & Worth, Savvas, Cengage, ABC and DBQ Project.
Stancil said the proposed curriculum will encompass 19 courses ranging from grade level to advanced placement for a total estimated six year cost of $596,680 and estimated annual cost of $98,877 from the General Fund.
Branch said many things are now subscription-based and barring changes in state law, BOE members will receive similar presentations for renewals again in five to six years.
White discussed technology in need of renewal or replacement. White requested 111 teacher laptops from 2018 be replaced in the spring for an estimated cost of $106,000 from the Education Local Option Sales Tax. White said teacher laptops are on a six-year replacement cycle. A technology teacher advisory group tests laptops and shares feedback on speed, battery life and how they work overall, he said.
White presented the Disaster Recovery Solution with proposed new backup software and storage, fiber connections and three servers needing a one-year warranty. White proposed replacing copper connection with fiber while adding the new backup software and server warranties. The estimated cost is $115,000 from the general fund and ELOST with a timeline of this summer.
For cybersecurity, a bi-annual security assessment of the system’s network, penetration test and software engineering support will take place in the summer for an estimated cost of $20,500 from the general fund. For the penetration test, White said a third party will try to break into the network and report back. White said phishing is the biggest cybersecurity threat, and he sends out quarterly fake phishing emails to staff that have “dramatically” decreased in percentage of clicks.
Multi Factor authentication, which provides a code for login needed in addition to a username and password, was added to every system possible, telling them who’s behind the keyboard and what they’re doing, White said.
For all the expenditure requests brought to the school board, no action was taken at the retreat. Many of the requests will be voted on at the regular BOE meeting in February.