OUR VIEW: Considering where it started, TCSS finishing up pretty ‘normal’ year a good thing

Published 10:30 am Saturday, May 14, 2022

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It’s often said that the days are long but the years are short. With that saying in mind, somehow, it’s already mid-May, meaning school is about to be out for the year once again. We’ve been working on our graduation section, set to publish on Wednesday, May 18. It lists every graduate in the county and is one of the many special sections we are proud to produce each and every year.

With those ceremonies upcoming, and given where we are on the calendar, now feels like a good time to reflect on the school year. The schedule of the Troup County School System, which has approximately 12,000 students, impacts just about all of our 70,000 residents in some way. Whether it’s planning vacations, school field trips, weather days, athletic events, testing — if you have a child or grandchild in the public school system, you probably plan your daily schedule around the school schedule, so the importance it plays in this community cannot be overstated.

The school year started with a packed board meeting in August and an hour-long debate over whether students should be wearing masks to begin the school year. We’re guessing some of you don’t remember that, and think it must’ve been in 2020. But no, that’s how the 2021 school year started.

(We’ll also note that we wish we could get one-tenth of the people in the room that day in August to regularly attend school board meetings.)

A few schools were closed for a couple of days toward the beginning of the year as cases spiked.  Masks eventually came and went, with TCSS adopting a policy based on the number of cases in a school.

COVID, while far from eliminated, is no longer the focal point of any meetings in our community, including school board, as cases dwindled. Considering where we were two years ago — even one year — that’s a win for everyone.

Outside of COVID, unless we’re just forgetting one, we don’t think there was a single bad weather day where TCSS closed schools all year long, which is also a rare but significant win. You could argue that superintendent’s public approval ratings teeter like the president’s, except for superintendents they’re based mostly on how school is handled when severe weather is forecasted. Although we’re obviously kidding, it’s late May and we’ve had little worry about weather impacting school, so we’re calling that a win for all involved.

In just a few short weeks, graduates will be walking across the field at Callaway Stadium, ending another year. We’ll write more on the graduates later, but we hope seniors are enjoying the last few days in high school. You’ll never get these days back, and there’s nothing like high school. Once it’s over, it’s over.

Things at TCSS aren’t perfect. We aren’t trying to say they are. There are plenty of issues that need to be addressed. The budget has to be finalized for the upcoming fiscal year. Positions have to be filled. Test scores need to be higher. Reading scores at the elementary level remain a concern. The list goes on and on, as it does for every school system in the state (and nation.)

But given that we’re a few weeks from the end of school, COVID-19 is not at the forefront of every discussion, and our kids had a fairly “normal” year, we think it’s been a successful year for TCSS. There wasn’t a dramatic jump back and forth between kids in school in-person and virtually. There weren’t major swings in absences for most of the year.

It mostly felt normal.

And normal was a very good thing.