Central registration planned for Houston County schools

bpurser@macon.comSeptember 27, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Parents registering students in Houston County schools may find the process a little easier in January, school officials say.

The school system is moving to a central registration location at a building at the former Rumble Academy off South Davis Drive.

Parents who registered students for the 2012-13 school year had to register their children at each individual school.

If parents had children attending three different schools, for example, that meant a visit to each school and duplicate paperwork, said Linda Horne, assistant superintendent for school operations.

Horne briefed school board members about the change Thursday at their semi-annual board retreat at the Regin Center behind the Board of Education offices in Perry.

Starting in January, parents will register students at the central registration location, a building on the far back right of the former Rumble property. The building is across the street from McConnell-Talbert Stadium.

The move to a central registration also impacts students who transfer to a new school zone.

All new students will register at the central registration location for the 2013-14 school year. Students already registered and remaining in the same school zone do not need to re-register.

Bibb County moved to a central registration system this school year with mixed results. Some parents expressed frustration about long waits.

In an effort to make the most seamless transition possible, Houston County school administrators decided to make the move mid-year when fewer parents and students are impacted, Horne said.

Also, parents will have the opportunity to register students year-round and are encouraged not to wait until the week before school for the 2013-14 school year, Horne said.

In addition to being open year-round, extended hours are being considered, Horne said.

Some minor modifications are planned for the building itself to create a general area where parents may fill out forms either on paper or computers. Then parents will be taken to another room for one-on-one interaction with a staff member to answer individual questions and concerns and complete the registration process, Horne said.

The registration process may include adding some forms online that parents can fill out ahead of time, said Robin Hines, school superintendent.

Central registration improves consistency, while allowing the first interaction at a new school to be a positive one, Hines said. The last thing Hines said he wants is the first interaction with a new school to be that an immunization certificate has been forgotten.

The change to central registration does not require a board vote.

Changes in works for gifted students

Board members also heard about a planned change in the gifted student program at elementary schools.

Students in the gifted program at elementary schools now have one day of the week when they have a multidisciplinary class taught by a gifted-certified teacher, said Eric Payne, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

The idea is to create a five-day-a-week class for each grade at each elementary school for gifted students as well as high-achieving students taught by a gifted-certified teacher, Payne said. The students would receive subject content instruction.

A committee of principals, assistant principals, gifted-certified teachers, regular teachers and administrators are expected to begin meeting in the near future to explore the pros and cons and hammer out a specific plan.

Of chief concern is to protect the integrity of the gifted program while allowing other excelling students an opportunity to take more rigorous studies, Payne said.

Also, about 100 teachers within the school system will have the opportunity to become gifted-certified teachers, so there are enough teachers to accommodate the plan, Payne said.

The gifted programs in place at the middle and high schools are not impacted.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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