Barrow BOE urged to hold off on Bible classes

WINDER - Barrow County schools should wait until fall 2009 before instituting Bible-based classes, assistant superintendent Claire Miller told Board of Education members Tuesday.

That would give the district at least a year to prepare for the classes and find qualified teachers, said Lisa Leighton, spokeswoman for the Barrow County School District.

Lynn Stevens, District 5 Board member, said she prefers not to get in a rush and to visit schools that already offer the courses.

The matter might not get to the voting stage until Dec. 2008, Superintendent Ron Saunders said.

Since June, a 10-member committee made up of teachers, students, parents and community members has reviewed curricula, textbooks, teacher qualifications and potential problems before making its recommendation to the board, which Miller relayed Tuesday. The committee will continue to meet.

Last February, district officials polled 3,216 students and 45 teachers at Apalachee and Winder-Barrow High Schools, and 47 percent of the students and 14 teachers expressed an interest in taking or teaching the classes.

Senate Bill 79 was passed in 2006 allowing Georgia public high schools to offer elective courses in Literature and History of the Old and New Testaments.

If the courses are incorporated in to the classroom, students will study literary style, structure of culture, customs, law, government, history, art, language and music of the Old and New Testaments.

Curriculums would have to abide by constitutional limitations that prohibit evangelism in the classroom and ensure classes are taught as academic pursuits.