School Board Approves Voter Redistricting Map
The Douglas County Board of Education also learns how a committee is trying to address student achievement and a report on the district’s changing student demographics.
In one of several unanimous votes, the Douglas County Board of Education approved its new voter redistricting map at Monday night’s meeting in the boardroom of the Central Office Administrative Building.
During the 85-minute meeting, the board also approved through 5-0 votes:
- To spend $17,500 to use Jones, Cork & Miller for its underwriting counsel and spend $27,500 for its bond counsel to use Sutherland Asbill & Brennan in connection with refunding the Series 2005 General Obligation Bonds.
- Goals for Superintendent Gordon Pritz and the board for the 2011-12 school year. Both groups shared their first two goals, which related to improved community engagement and involvement in district initiatives and decision making, and improved district communication strategies and practices.
- Its three-item consent agenda, which included a $68,000 approved contract to use Learning Forward for its monitoring support in helping the district increase student learning. Federal Title I funds are being used for the project.
The board also was given a progress report on the school system’s initiative on Student Achievement & Leadership by several members of the 52-member group. The initiative featured four teachers from every grade level and content area for at least four days this summer.
“The collaboration was just amazing,” said Bill Arp Elementary School’s Sue Beck, a 25-year teacher.
The board was told that more than 400 elementary teachers participated in a professional leadership meeting Monday and a large group of high school teachers were set to meet Tuesday. Dana Green, the district’s math school improvement specialist, told the board that Monday’s meeting with elementary school personnel was “phenomenal.”
“I’d like to thank you all,” Factory Shoals Elementary art teacher Linda Handyside told the board of her appreciation for them allowing “teachers to write these assessments.”
Pritz and the board applauded the group’s efforts.
“Obviously a lot of people put in a lot of work into this and when you see your work pay off it’s rewarding,” Pritz told Patch after the meeting. “It’s about student achievement, that’s our core business. Sometimes when you have hard work to do, it takes everyone doing their part. We’re doing what’s right for kids.”
Associate Superintendent Suvess Ricks followed the Student Achievement & Leadership initiative presentation with a report on the district’s student demographics, a follow-up to the system’s personnel demographic report given in August. The report included these figures:
- In 1994-95, 85 percent of the district was “White/Non-Hispanic” and 15 percent was “Black/All Others”; in 2001-02, 66 percent were white/non-Hispanic and 34 percent black/all others; and in 2010-11, 35 percent were white/non-Hispanic and 65 percent were black/all others.
- Although district enrollment has increased by 148 students with 24,439 students in October 2010 and 24,587 in October 2011, new student enrollment decreased by 18 students during the same time period to 3,320 in 2011.
- Free and reduced lunch percentages have risen from 42.2 percent in the 2005-06 school year to 60.1 percent in 2010-11.
- Enrollment in vocational programs has jumped from 4,224 students in 2010-11 to 8,512 in October 2011, the K-12 gifted program has increased from 2,550 to 3,938 during the same time frame and English speakers of other languages as rose from 844 students in 2010-11 to 941 in October 2011.
- Homeschool enrollment has dropped from 832 in 2010-11 to 591 in October 2011 and homeless students have decreased from 613 in 2009-10 to 248 in 2010-11.
Board member Michael Miller of District 1 asked Ricks why she thought the number of homeless students had changed.
“Some of it is the economy and some of it is how we are reporting it,” Ricks said. “From our high school students, it’s very hard to find that information out. We’ve developed strategies to try to figure it out. We ask them where they spend their nights. It is very challenging.
“Our goal is to make sure they don’t lose any academic ground,” she added.
Pritz and Board Chair Jeff Morris of District 5 related to the board and audience how the district will sometimes transport students across county lines when a student wants to stay in the Douglas County School System but has been forced to move due to circumstances beyond their control.
“The staff has done a great job,” Morris said.
Prior to the evening meeting, the board had its second of four hour-long mini retreat sessions. The school system provided the board with district data for all its assessments and tests. These included Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT), the Georgia High School Graduation Test, the Georgia High School Writing Test, End of Course Tests, along with college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT.