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IN SESSION: City Schools of Decatur welcome increased enrollment
by Sarah Anne Voyles
August 21, 2013 11:43 AM | 2524 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye / From left, Cesar Batlle, third-grade teacher at Clairemont Elementary School, gives Ben Jensen, 8, son of Elizabeth Sailers, a reading assignment.
Staff / Katherine Frye / From left, Cesar Batlle, third-grade teacher at Clairemont Elementary School, gives Ben Jensen, 8, son of Elizabeth Sailers, a reading assignment.
The pools are starting to close and school doors are opening for the City Schools of Decatur.

This year the school district welcomed more than 4,000 students into the classrooms and had an 11 percent growth in student enrollment.

“Enrollment is really growing here,” Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said. “We have over 4,000 students, which is double the number when I first started here 10 years ago.”

The school district put a strategic plan together in 2004 to increase academic standards for children. Edwards said this plan has helped in the growth of enrollment since parents are choosing to either move to the school district from out of state or to pull their children from private schools.

To accommodate the growth in the middle and high schools, Edwards said the school board developed a master plan for future development of the schools. If the city commissioners pass the plan, the citizens will vote on a ballot referendum in November.

The 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue is also expanding and Edwards said it plans to have everything finished by November.

For this year’s growth, the school district recently opened a new wing at Oakhurst Elementary School. This new wing is an addition of eight new classrooms. The school was one of 28 schools named as a 2012 Georgia School of Excellence in Student Achievement by the Georgia Department of Education.

“This is a tremendous honor for City Schools of Decatur,” Edwards said in a statement. “Oakhurst’s faculty, staff and students deserve this recognition for their continued gains in achievement and for their outstanding performance on the College and Career-Ready Performance Index.”

The school is recognized in the high performance category and is the fourth highest ranked school in the state. Also, the school’s special education program contributed to its successful ranking.

The school district also received four awards from the National School Public Relations Association. Legislative and community liaison Courtney Burnett said more than 900 schools entered and not every submission received an award or honorable mention.

Besides student enrollment growth, the school district unveiled its own school bus system. In previous years Decatur schools contracted buses through a neighboring school district.

With more enrollments and the addition of school buses, Edwards said the school district had its largest hiring with about 60 positions. There were 20 new positions added to the budget this year.

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