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Schools deserved fair shake from state

There are days when even the good news is tinged with bad.

POLL
Should McDuffie County schools receive the same amount of money as schools with similar demographics in the state?
Yes
No
The Georgia Department of Education last week doled out more than $3 million in awards to schools that had made Adequate Yearly Progress.

In McDuffie County -- one of nine counties in Georgia to have all of its elementary schools achieve the AYP goals -- that meant Maxwell Elementary, Norris Elementary and Thomson Elementary each got checks for more than $10,000 that will help further education at each of the schools. Dearing Elementary will be eligible for a check if they meet AYP one more year.

That was the good news.

You can thank the Georgia Department of Education for the bad news.

While McDuffie County schools did receive nice checks as a reward for their performance, other schools across the state received even bigger checks -- some more than three times larger.

Why? Because McDuffie County didn't have enough students that qualified for free or reduced lunch. In some cases, like Thomson Elementary and Norris Elementary, the schools were just a handful of students short.

That's right, one, two, maybe three students meant the difference between Thomson Elementary getting a $15,615 check or a $50,700 check. And at Norris, where the school was .22 percent -- again, one or two students -- short of the state's magic number, it meant a $12,492 check instead of $40,560.

McDuffie County school officials were rightly upset over the disparity -- tens of thousands of dollars can go a long way in our schools. It's a shame state bureaucracy has to punish successful schools by saying they aren't poor enough.

The students' success is the same. The checks should be comparable too.



Web posted on Thursday, November 18, 2004


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