March 27, 2020
The State Board of Education (SBOE) met by telephone on Thursday, March 26. The meeting was available electronically via YouTube live. After participating in a public roll call, board members met privately in executive session. At the conclusion of executive session, the board built the Committee of the Whole Agenda and pulled several items for a separate vote. All agenda items were approved. 

The complete agenda is available HERE .
Waiver Package Intended to Address COVID-19  

The most notable item passed by the board was a package of waivers for all school districts, state schools, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Department of Corrections intended to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Notably, requirements regarding teacher evaluation, class size, teacher certification, expenditure controls, seat time, and student assessment can be waived. The waiver package gives schools the ability to waive the following statutes and SBOE rules for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Some school districts have already waived the requirements, but the package allows all districts to utilize the waivers without amending their flexibility contracts. The U.S. Department of Education has given Georgia preliminarily authorization to waive some federal requirements, and Gov. Brian Kemp has also signaled his support of the waivers.

  • Awarding Units of Credit and Acceptance of Transfer Credits/Grades: O.C.G.A. §20-2-159.3; O.C.G.A. §20-2-159.4 (c); SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.15(2)(d)(3) and (4), and (2)(h): Flexibility will allow districts greater ability to award credit based on district determination of student competency.
  • Career Education: SBOE Rule 160-4-8-.08: Flexibility will allow districts to revise their advisement schedules to meet student priority needs.
  • Categorical Allotment Requirements: O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-167, 20-2-184.1: Flexibility will allow districts to develop and manage their budgets based on district and school improvement plans or needs, without limitation based on state-required use of funds.
  • Certification: O.C.G.A. §§ 20‐2‐200, 20‐2‐201: Flexibility will allow districts and schools to select qualified applicants based on knowledge and expertise, particularly in regard to difficult-to-fill positions, without limitation based on certification requirements. (Does not apply to special education certification.)
  • Class Size and Reporting: O.C.G.A. § 20-2-182; SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.08: Flexibility will allow schools to better manage human resources to meet student needs and enable districts to better manage financial resources in support of school staffing needs.
  • Competencies / Prescribed Courses: O.C.G.A. §20-2-142: Flexibility will allow districts and schools to revise courses of study and sequencing of curriculum around locally developed competencies.
  • Comprehensive Health/Physical Education Program: O.C.G.A. §20-2-777(a)(1); SBOE Rule 160-4-2-.12(2)(b) and (g): Flexibility will allow the districts and schools the ability to adjust minimum contact hours and provide a waiver from annual assessment requirements.
  • Direct Classroom Expenditures and Expenditure Controls: O.C.G.A. § 20-2-171: Flexibility will allow districts to expend funds based on district and school needs, rather than state-required categories.
  • Educational Programs: O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-154(b), 20-2-154.1, 20-2-156 and SBOE Rule 160-4-2-.38, SBOE Rule 160-4-5-.01(2)(d): Flexibility will allow schools to be more nimble in devising delivery models that meet student needs in the areas of Remedial Education, English Language Learner, and/or Gifted services.
  • Georgia Virtual School Funding and Tuition: O.C.G.A §20-2-319.1(b)(2): Flexibility will allow districts to enroll a class of students in a moderated, asynchronous online course for the tuition rate of $250 per group of no more than 45 students (as long as there is a local staff member with whom the Georgia Virtual School member would coordinate).
  • Graduation Requirements and Seat Time: SBOE Rule 160-4-2-.48(6)(i): Flexibility will allow districts to award credit for course completion upon mastery of course standards at any time during the semester and waive the clock hour requirements for students to earn a Carnegie Unit of credit during the regular school year and for summer schools. Flexibility will also allow for the substitution of equivalent or higher-level requirements.
  • Organization of Schools / Middle School Programs / Scheduling: SBOE Rule 160-4-2-.05(2)(c), (d), (e), and (g): Flexibility will allow districts and schools to devise instructional and operational plans in response to student needs, without limitation based on state-determined organizational and time requirements.
  • Personnel Required: SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.22: Flexibility will allow districts to make personnel decisions and adjustments based on student and operational needs.
  • Promotion and Retention: O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-283, 20-2-284; SBOE Rule 160-4-2-.11: Flexibility will allow districts to waive, modify, or set promotion/retention criteria, as well as protocols for making placement decisions in a timely manner.
  • Scheduling for Instruction: O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-160 (except to the extent it relates to funding), 20-2-168(c)(1): Flexibility will allow districts and schools to schedule for instruction in ways that may better meet the needs of students, without the limitation of instructional time requirements set by the state.
  • School Day and School Year for Students and Employees: O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-151, 20-2-160(a), 20-2-168(c)(1); SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.02: Flexibility will allow districts to waive the allotted requirements of instruction time at each level to focus time on areas of priority for student achievement and course completion. Flexibility will waive the 180-day or the equivalent requirement.
  • Statewide Passing Score: SBOE Rule 160-4-2-.13(2)(d) and (f): Flexibility waives the requirement that the Georgia Milestones End-of-Course (EOC) assessment shall be used as the final exam in the courses assessed by a Georgia Milestones EOC and waives the requirement that the numeric score on the Georgia Milestones EOC shall count for 20% of the student’s final numeric grade in the course assessed by the Georgia Milestones EOC.
  • Student Assessments: O.C.G.A. §20-2-281; SBOE Rule 160-3-1-.07: Flexibility will waive the administration of, and related requirements for, state assessments scheduled for late Spring 2020 administration. 
Superintendent’s Report – Standards Review Paused
Matt Jones, chief of staff to Superintendent Woods, reported that the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) has put the math standards review on hold. The pause in the K-12 math standards review is intended to allow GaDOE staff to focus on supporting districts and schools in continuing distance learning opportunities and to allow Georgia math educators to focus on supporting students and colleagues. Woods, in conjunction with the governor’s office, will review and revise the standards review timeline and reconvene standards review committees in the future.
Kemp Announces Schools Closed Through At Least April 24
Shortly after the electronic meeting concluded, Gov. Kemp issued an executive order extending school closures through at least April 24 due to the COVID-19 crisis . The order cites limited exceptions to the closure including meal preparation and distribution, continuity of distance learning, and “other necessary functions” as determined by local school superintendents.

Margaret Ciccarelli
Director of Legislative Services; Staff Attorney