Big Changes Coming to Savannah Chatham Public School System

Big Changes Coming to Savannah Chatham Public School System (Image 1)

The Savannah Chatham County Public School District will look a little different in the coming years after a decision Wednesday night to implement a “Strategic Waiver School System.”

That means over the next year, the school district must start to create a contract to submit to the state that shows how they plan to improve over the next several years.

But many of the parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents of kids in our schools are not happy with the decision.

“I know our board has been put in a spot but they’re not listening to the people,” said Sandra Crewe.

Crewe is a full-time volunteer in the school district, her daughter is a teacher and she has grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are students in SCCPSS.

Wednesday’s decision comes after months of work and is the result of a Georgia Department of Education mandate that says every district must choose one of three “Flexibility Options.”

The first option was converting the district to a Charter System, which would require a separate governing body for every single school in the district.

The second, is the Strategic Waivers System, the one they chose; this system allows for schools to apply for flexibility in state laws, rules and policies (like class size) but if the schools don’t perform well in three out of five years, they could fall under government control.

Crewe, like a majority of the public, wanted the third option – a No Waivers System, otherwise known as the Status Quo or the Traditional System.

But Superintendent Dr. Thomas Lockamy says there’s nothing traditional about it.

“There is no district in the state that is ‘status quo,’ everybody had to go to one of those [other] two options,” said Lockamy. “Even though they say you’ve got choice, you had a choice but it’s going to cost you megabucks to do so.”

In fact, he says the government would take $17-million from the district and remove 275+ teachers had they picked the no waivers option.

But several members of the school district, including Lockamy, expressed their displeasure with feeling like the state board was backing them into a corner in this decision and forced them basically to ignore the people they serve.

Click here for a graphic showing the options.

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