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School board votes to close three South Fulton schools
by Savannah Weeks
February 22, 2013 02:09 PM | 5179 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At its meeting Thursday night at Dunwoody Springs Elementary School, the Fulton County Schools Board of Education voted 6-0 for the redistricting and closing of Mount Olive, Harriet Tubman and Oak Knoll elementary schools.

The schools will not close until the end of the 2013-14 and 2015-16 school years, but the order in which they will close has not yet been determined.

The district has hosted three community forums from October through December to gain input on redistricting for the schools.

Two new elementary schools will be built to accommodate the students in the three that closed, using SPLOST funds.

The board also approved the redistricting of seven South Fulton middle schools: Bear Creek, Camp Creek, McNair, Paul D. West, Renaissance, Sandtown and Woodland.

District 4 board member Linda Bryant, who represents part of South Fulton, said parents at her community meeting wished the school system had done more to notify them about the redistricting plans.

“One of the things they said was if there was bad weather, they were notified by email, text messages, phone messages — they said it was a wonderful way; everyone was notified. Now they’re saying, why can’t we use the same notification process when we are doing redistricting.”

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In other news, Wayne Bellcross, the district’s executive director for accountability, presented an update to the College and Career Readiness Performance Index to board members at its monthly meeting.

The index was designed by the state as an accountability tool and alternative to the federal No Child Left Behind Act in 2011. Schools are now ranked on a 100-point scale, rather than pass or fail. Schools receive 70 points for achievement, 15 points for progress and 15 points for achievement gap closure.

“All accountability for No Child Left Behind rested on one test [the CRCT],” said Bellcross. “States began submitting waivers saying we would like to be released from some of the things in No Child Left Behind. The CCRPI is based on multiple measures.”

District 2 board member Katie Reeves said she thought the index was a mistake.

“It reminds me a little of when I sold TV advertising,” she said. “I studied the Nielsen books, and I could find a good or bad story about anything. I can’t imagine trying to explain this to a parent. I appreciate what you did, but I think everyone is making a huge mistake with this.”

Superintendent Robert Avossa said the school district had no choice in the matter.

“Whether we like it or not, this is the deal the state has made with the feds,” he said.

One other topic of discussion at the board meeting was lease agreements with Georgia Perimeter College. The college currently teaches classes at six of the county’s high schools. However, all the high schools are in North Fulton.

Bryant said parents wanted to know why classes weren’t offered on campus at their children’s high schools. She believes if a few schools have that opportunity, all of them should.

The lease agreement waives the college of paying any fees to host classes at the high schools.

This discussion brought up the issue of principals and high school counselors being dis-incentivized to bring college courses to the school because they will lose full-time equivalency state funding for students who are not considered full-time anymore.

“All high school principals have been financially dis-incentivized from encouraging students to take college courses,” said Reeves. “Some of the counselors say the college classes are too easy. Well, I have parents with students on the bubble, who say, ‘Easy is ok.’”

District 3 board member Gail Dean wanted to clarify the issue with Avossa.

“So, we are incentivizing Georgia Perimeter College by discounting any lease payments they would make, but losing money in [full-time equivalency] when they teach a course and we don’t?” she said.

Avossa responded that he did not have the answer to that question at this time.

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