COVINGTON -- Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews is asking the school board to spend nearly $100,000 in federal funding to bring an educational strategist to speak to staff again next school year.
During the Newton County Board of Education's monthly work session on Tuesday, Mathews asked the board to approve a contract for $95,800 with Educators for Academic Excellence Consulting LLC for 24 days of professional learning time with Dr. Dan Mulligan for NCSS staff during the 2011-12 school year. Already NCSS used Mulligan more than a dozen times this school year for $44,480 paid for through federal Title I and federal Title IIA that are earmarked for professional development, Mathews said Friday.
"This training needs to continue in order to improve the quality of instruction in classrooms, one of the main non-negotiable goals for the district," Mathews said in a memo to board members.
Mathews, who worked with Mulligan during his most recent time in Virginia as a superintendent, and other NCSS staff often reference him and his instructional materials, "Classroom Instruction That Works" and "Building Background Knowledge" by Robert Marzano. Mulligan also provides training to Gwinnett County Public Schools and other systems around the state.
"Mulligan is one of the top instructional strategists in the U.S. at this time," Mathews said. "His excellent explanations of research-based instructional strategies and background knowledge, coupled with his modeling of the same for teachers and principals, have proven to make a difference in the results achieved by students."
Mathews said he provides useful templates for teachers to use when implementing strategies in their classrooms.
"It seems that the more we adults learn and practice that which works, the more our children learn," Mathews said.
The contract includes $3,200 in training fees per day, or $76,800 total, plus $19,000 in travel and other expenses. Expenses include $7,000 for airfare, $3,600 for hotel, $7,200 for car rental and $1,200 for meals.
Board member Jeff Meadors wondered if car rental fees and hotel fees, at least, could be reduced since they seemed a bit high. Board members also asked that Mulligan stay in a local hotel, instead of a Conyers hotel as he has his year.
"My concern is that we watch every penny," Meadors said. "There are still dollars that could be used for other things."
NCSS has received more than $3.4 million in Title I and Title IIA so far this school year.
"NCSS may very well have federal funds amounting to over a half million dollars in the coming school year for professional development," Mathews said Friday. "Such an expenditure does not impact our General Fund, which is fueled by local and state dollars."
Mathews said it is possible he would renegotiate the contract by NCSS looking at local hotel prices and offering to pick him up at the airport to avoid car rental fees. He anticipated working out a new price with Mulligan's business manager and bringing a new proposal back to the school board before the members vote on the contract next week.
The school board plans to vote on the item at its regular session monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the board room at the Newton County BOE building at 2109 Newton Drive NE in Covington.