The McDuffie County school system looks forward to 2012 with much anticipation. The system will face its five-year review by the SACS CASI National accreditation system. This District Accreditation process is a means by which SACS sends a review team to visit our schools and determines what positive efforts have been made to improve our schools and possibly provide insight into recommendations for future initiatives.
Our system and school leaders will also be involved in the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement. This training helps to facilitate the process of systemic school improvement and has been a catalyst for school-based Continuous Improvement teams and implementation of proven best practices. Future GLISI teams will consist of assistant principals as well as teacher leaders.
While state revenues increased last year, there is still no sign of relief for local school systems. Continued cuts are anticipated as school systems struggle to find ways to balance their bottom line. More systems are facing layoffs, reduced work forces, additional furloughs, elimination of programs and increasing local millage rates.
Board of education members and superintendents across the state continue to try to convince state legislators to place public education as a high priority deserving of financial support. Rising health care expenses passed on to local school systems continue to skyrocket.
The greatest increase has occurred for the noncertified school employees. The employer’s cost to insure our noncertified employees has risen several hundred thousand dollars over the past year, and further increases are anticipated. This challenge, combined with the continued reductions in state funding, poses newer and greater obstacles for local systems.
Fortunately, the fine citizens of McDuffie County voted to continue the collection of a 1-cent education local option sales tax for the purpose of proceeding with key capital outlay projects. This decision will save the property owner significant dollars over the next five years.
One of the projects paid for by ESPLOST will be Phase Two of the Brickyard renovation. Phase Two construction will initiate early in 2012 and be completed by August. The new R.L. Norris Elementary School is also being planned and will be completed during the ESPLOST V cycle.
Administrators and teachers have been working hard completing specified assessment training modules as well as training on the newest round of state-mandated curriculum changes, including Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS). This latest curriculum implementation is designed to ensure increased rigor and relevance for the subject matter our students are exposed to during their K-12 school careers.
And, finally, I am pleased to announce that the McDuffie County schools will enter into a collaborative effort with the Family Y to provide an enhanced after-school program for all elementary and middle school students. The program will provide after-school instruction and supervision for our students. The cost will vary depending upon family income. For many, the program will be free. Each school will be hosting an After School registration in January 2012. We expect the program to begin in February 2012.