A new joint effort between Carrollton City Schools and Carroll County Schools aimed at lowering drop-out rates will have a veteran of the juvenile justice system as its executive director.
Cynthia Langley, who started in the county's juvenile system 29 years ago, started work May 14 on the local affiliate of Communities in Schools, a national organization.
Work on the project started in early 2010, Langley said, and the superintendents and school boards have been working on having a local affiliate in the county who will be working with both school districts.
"Our goal is to lower drop-out rates and increase graduation rates of at-risk youth," Langley said. "We're going to be trying to identify kids who are having a difficult time learning in a normal classroom setting."
Langley said the city school system has separate grant money allotted for a Performance Learning Center to be housed at Carrollton Junior High School.
Aprill Jones-Byrd, who is currently a graduation coach at Carrollton High, will start work at the Performance Learning Center when it opens in August. While it will be housed at the junior high school, Langley said it will serve mostly high school students.
The schools will have site coordinators who are a point of contact working inside the school building to provide integrated student services, according to the organization's website.
"Site coordinators will be provided by Communities in Schools, and they will help to meet the needs of at-risk kids," Langley said.
The organization is in the process of hiring site coordinators now, and they will be trained during the summer.
Langley said they haven't identified a site coordinator for county schools, mainly because of the system's size.
"It's a little more challenging for the county schools because there's just so many of them," she said.
The county school system will not have a performance learning center, but will have a site coordinator working with the school to build up resources for at-risk youth, Langley said.
Langley's office is in the West Georgia Technical College office on Adamson Square. She said the provision of her office was an in-kind donation by the college.
"People who have an investment in graduation rates in school systems are eager to help us out," Langley said. "And West Georgia Tech obviously gets students who graduate from our high schools, so they're involved.
Before working with Communities in Schools, the Auburn University graduate worked for four years in juvenile wellness court, working with youth who have substance abuse and mental health problems.
The Alabama native said her role in the process is to work with the community.
"I am going to build a base with the community and an understanding of what Communities in Schools will do and what the benefit will be," she said, "figuring out how to build resources for youth in the school system and how it will build the community as a whole."