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McDuffie elementary schools to be honored at state banquet

McDuffie County's elementary schools will be honored at the Georgia Department of Education annual Schools of Excellence Celebration. McDuffie Federal Programs Director Beth Newton said all four principals, assistant principals and county administrators will attend the banquet in Atlanta on Friday, Nov. 2.

"They're excited, and they'll have their picture made with (State Superintendent) Kathy Cox," Dr. Newton said.

The celebration is hosted by Ms. Cox, and honors schools which are Title I and have made adequate yearly progress for five or more consecutive years.

According to a press release from the local Board of Education, Maxwell and Thomson Elementary Schools are two of only 33 schools in Georgia to have seven consecutive years, Norris Elementary is one of 34 schools in the state to have five years consecutive years, and Dearing Elementary is one of 127 schools to have four consecutive years of Title I Distinguished Schools status.

"There are only seven systems in the state with all schools in the system that are Title I for more than four years," Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Barry O'Neill announced at the school board meeting.

Dr. O'Neill said that MES and TES have been Title I Distinguished Schools since the program's inception. The program was established as part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Schools that meet or exceed adequate yearly progress for three consecutive years, have made the greatest gains in closing achievement gaps between disaggregated student groups, and have not been on the Unsafe School Choice Option List are identified as Title I Distinguished schools.

In addition to recognition at the banquet, these schools also receive a certificate of recognition and a monetary award. The amount awarded varies each year, depending on the number of recipients and the percentage of children attending the school who are from low income families. Awarded monetary funds must be used for educational purposes only.

As the program continues to grow, the amount of awarded funds dwindles. In 2003, both Thomson and Maxwell Elementary received checks for more than $70,000. That amount plummeted the next year. Last year they received $10,000, and the amount continues to drop.

"We are receiving seven to 10 percent less this year," Dr. O'Neill said.

The decrease is due to the larger number of schools in the pot sharing the rewards. In 2004, there were 115 Title I Distinguished Schools in Georgia. This year, there are 805. As a result, the school systems are divided alphabetically, and two banquets will be held.

Web posted on Thursday, October 18, 2007

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