Education

Three Bibb schools could draw state intervention

Parents and students stream into Veterans Elementary on the first day of school in Bibb County in August. Veterans Elementary is one of three Bibb schools being considered for state intervention.
Parents and students stream into Veterans Elementary on the first day of school in Bibb County in August. Veterans Elementary is one of three Bibb schools being considered for state intervention. wmarshall@macon.com

Three Bibb County public schools are candidates for state intervention.

Appling Middle School, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary and Veterans Elementary are among the first 11 schools that Georgia's new "chief turnaround officer," Eric Thomas, is interested in working with under the First Priority Act, passed earlier this year.

Superintendent Curtis Jones said it is not a "done deal," and that the district is awaiting more details before agreeing to work with the state. Thomas and Jones met in Macon last week.

The other potential schools are Clay County Middle, Dooly County High, Dooly County Middle, Dooly County Elementary; Alice Coachman, Morningside and Northside elementary schools in Dougherty County; and Randolph Clay Middle in Randolph County.

The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement identified 104 schools on its Turnaround Eligible Schools List, released Nov. 3. The schools on the report have three-year-average College and Career Readiness Index scores in the bottom 5 percent of Georgia. Schools on the list had a CCRPI score of less than 54.

Bibb County had eight schools on the turnaround list. Appling's three-year average score was 50.4; Martin Luther King Jr., 49.8; and Veterans, 50.9.

Selected schools do not have to agree to work with the state, but the state Department of Education can take further actions if they decline, Jones said.

In an interview with The Telegraph last month, Thomas said he could choose to work with all low-performing schools in a district or just a few. Only three of Bibb County's schools are being considered for state intervention for now, but it's possible that Thomas could select others in a second round in the spring, Jones said.

The state will help schools develop, monitor and implement improvement plans after an evaluation of each school. Strategies will differ from school to school and cater to individual needs and situations.

The state could work with a school for one or two years or multiple years, depending on progress. If a school has not shown improvement after three years working with the state, action steps could include the removal of school personnel, hiring new staff, sending students to another public school, or transferring school operations to another party, according to the legislation.

“This turnaround effort has strong potential to partner with us to help us improve schooling," Jones said. "We’re more than willing to work with the (state), but I think that sometimes the devil is in the details, and we’ll have to figure that out as we go forward.”

Jones said the terms of the contract haven't been fully explained yet, and he expects to have more formalized details by next week.

The Bibb County school board will have to agree to amend its strategic waiver for the state. Jones, board members and school staff want more information on how plans will be implemented, advantages and disadvantages, and responsibilities of the state and district before agreeing to a contract.

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