Dr. Lorilyn Harrell said she had been reading petitions sent to the state by other school systems to see what they proposed for their Education and Governance Committees under Charter System status.
“We compared several school systems, such as Calhoun, Fulton, Gainsville, Dublin and Morgan, to see what their systems looked like before and after the charter changes. A lot of the biggest differences were in their school governance councils. Some were elected, some were appointed. The responsibilities of the governing boards were quite varied. They also had different timelines for training their governing councils and what they were going to train them in.”
Harrell said looking at these systems’ petitions gave Haralson County petition writers some good ideas about what could or could not work for its own school system. Harrell also looked at the education section of these petitions and said she noticed most were focusing on middle school and high school programs.
“Most of these school systems aren’t planning on implementing a lot of innovations at the lesser grade levels, so we’ll really need to do some research to see what kind of innovations we implement for primary and middle schoolers,” she said. “I was really pleased to see that a lot of the middle school and high school innovations other schools are just now planning to implement, we have already started them here at our schools.”
According to Harrell, as planning and writing for the Charter System application continues, she and others will be looking at what kind of innovations will be appropriate for Haralson County School System, what waivers they will require, how much school-based information they will require, what they will base their choices on and who they will consult regarding timelines and plausibility.
In other work session business, the council heard from Dr. Janet Goodman and Annette Johnson on the high school graduation rate, the calculation standard for which will be changing in the upcoming school year.
Currently, Georgia’s state graduation rate is set at 80.9 percent; however, under the new calculation, called the “adjusted cohort rate,” the states average will drop to 67.4 percent. Likewise, Haralson County’s graduation rate of 66.6 percent will drop to 57.09 percent.
Currently, systems can count several students as graduating even if they don’t necessarily graduate on time (in four years). Goodman says that some students will receive a certificate of attendance or an employable skills diploma. These students can be counted as graduating, even if they have to come back later to finish up. Also, under the current system, staff must classify students in several different categories as their reason for leaving, such as “to get GED,” “expelled,” “incarcerated,” “lack of attendance,” or “financial hardship.”
However, under the new calculation, anyone who doesn’t graduate with their class, in four years, will not be included in the count. This new calculation will be implemented by all states, as mandated by the fed.
Haralson County Schools Superintendent Brett Stanton stated that issues that affect the graduation rate begin well before high school. Goodman and Johnson agreed, saying that truancy has been an issue even in lower grades, but that their numbers had seen improvements over the past few years.
During their regular meeting, May 3, the council approved several items on the consent agenda, including a resolution on Section 504, regarding the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; policy IFCB, regarding Field Trips and Excursions; policy IFBGA, regarding Electronic Communications; and policy IFBG, regarding Internet Acceptable Use; policy KG, regarding Use of School Facilities; policy KI, regarding Free Materials Distribution in Schools; policy LDAJA, regarding Interrogations and Investigations; and policy LEBA, regarding Parental Involvement in Education.
Policies GANA/JGCC and GBRK were tabled. All policies can be viewed on the school system’s website at www.haralson.k12.ga.us.
Purchasing new buses was also discussed with Transportation Director Sue Thompson.
“This year, we’re allotted funds to replace two buses,” said Thompson during the work session. “I recommend we replace the special needs buses because they have the most mileage on them.”
The board approved the package to replace two school buses and include air conditioning on the buses for the special needs students. The board tabled discussion of retro-fitting existing buses with air conditioning until a later date.
Parking arrangements for Haralson County High School graduation were also discussed at the regular meeting. It was decided that Buchanan traffic will park in the lower field, while Tallapoosa traffic will park in the main parking lot and the fine arts lot.
The next Haralson County Schools work session will be June 5, the regular meeting will be June 7.