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Bibb School Board Approves 'Miracle' Plan by 5-3 Vote | Education

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Bibb School Board Approves 'Miracle' Plan by 5-3 Vote

By a 5-3 vote, Bibb County's school board approved Supt. Romain Dallemand's 'Macon Miracle' strategic plan for improving the district's schools.

Chairman Tommy Barnes, Susan Middleton, Wanda West, Ella Carter and Tom Hudson supported the plan.

Gary Bechtel, Lynn Farmer and Susan Sipe voted "no," and asked to delay the decision

Board member Susan Middleton then made a motion asking that the board approve the plan. Her motion said each item in the plan should  eventually come back to the board for another vote, with a time line, budget and implementation plan. 

In the discussion before that final vote, Bechtel talked of unanswered questions about the program's cost.

Dallemand responded, "When it comes to the safety of our students, I don't think you can place a price tag."

He said he's provided all the cost information he can, but some costs just can't be measured yet. He also reminded the board that he can't spend any money until the board approves.

Lynn Farmer also questioned the costs in light of pending education cuts from the state.

Dallemand agreed that that's a concern, but said, "That's no reason not to dream big."

"If we can't afford something, we won't do it," he said.

If he has to set priorities based money available, he said, the first priority is student safety.

Sipe asked the board to put off a vote until after Dallemand presents his management plan, which he said he hopes to deliver to the board next month. 

Hudson said the board has been prudent : "We have been transparent and we have not given the superintendent a blank check."

That came after Dallemand's presentation on changes in the plan, which lasted nearly a half hour.

He began the meeting by passing out copies of his amended plan before tonight's school board meeting.

More than a dozen changes were highlighted, several of them involving school safety.

They include creating new procedures for handing dangerous students, putting mental health therapists at the district's alternative learning sites and a new system for reporting bullying.

About 120 people were at the meeting. They included former Mayor C. Jack Ellis and Macon city council woman Elaine Lucas, who both support the plan. Some in the audience wore 'Macon Miracle' T-shirts in support of Dallemand.

Dallemand first presented the 170-point plan in early February. Since then, dozens of people have spoke for and against the plan at public forums. The plan has also inspired protest marches and petitions.

Dallemand has dropped some of the plan's more controversial points, such as making the school week longer, closing schools and cutting about a quarter of the district's teaching jobs.

Check back with 13WMAZ.com for updates tonight.

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