SCCPSS preps for new year: E-learning academy, Chromebooks, relaxed dress code

Education

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – School board members are preparing for the possibility that some form of distance learning will be needed for Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) students this year.

During a Zoom meeting Wednesday, the SCCPSS Academic Affairs Department presented a report on virtual learning options, including the Savannah-Chatham E-Learning Academy (SCELA), a “stand-alone school.”

SCELA would serve 900 students in grades 3 through 12. Though online instruction would be the focus, “if needed,” there would be days for face-to-face lab participation.

Officials say more information will be made available as details are finalized but a summary of the report can be viewed here.

The board has also approved spending $3,284,260 of ESPLOST III funds to buy 14,000 Chromebooks that would “move the District in the direction of a 1:1 student to technology ratio mode.”

District officials estimate 20,000 devices are needed to get the 1:1 ratio.

Each SCELA student would receive a Chromebook. The board is looking at the possibility of buying iPads for younger students as the devices are more kid-friendly. 

Student dress code requirements will also be relaxed this next year as families undergo COVID-19 hardships. Students will have the option to follow the dress code for non-uniform school days instead.

In addition, the board voted to keep the millage rate the same, though they are still waiting for a budget from the state and public hearings will still be held.

One board member voted against passing the same rate because he wanted a rollback given the economic hardships from the pandemic. Other members said the families suffering the most need this investment in their students’ education.

The board also approved a resolution to give the superintendent power to keep spending a small portion of the projected budget as they await a state budget to, in turn, be able to adopt a local budget.

Funds from the new Title 1 SIG Digital Learning grant will be used at 11 SCCPSS schools following the board’s approval.

More than $1 million will go to Williams, Butler, Hodge, Low and Shuman elementary schools; Derenne, Hubert, Mercer and Myers middle schools; the School of Liberal Studies at Savannah High School and Susie King Taylor Community School.

Meanwhile, the board says the Islands High School Athletic Complex is near completion. Construction on the new Jenkins High School is underway and will be ready for the 2022 school year.

For more on the district’s possible plans for reopening, visit here.

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