Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia


May 16, 2014

Your Opinion: May 16, 2014

AMERICUS — Charter school important to community’s future

I have been a member of this community for 37 years. I have seen a lot of change. The most remarkable changes have taken place in our local economy and with that our school system. When I graduated from Americus high in 1984, Tifton, Milledgeville, Statesboro, Warner Robins and Valdosta were either smaller than Americus or at least equal size. All but Warner Robins have colleges; the later two have military bases so maybe they aren't fair to include in this comparison. Here is my question, "Why are all of them seemingly appearing to do better than our community???"

All of their colleges are bigger, they have more retail and better performing school systems. What's wrong here? I'm not pretending to know I just want the question asked, and asked again until we find an answer. Maybe it starts with the leadership, maybe the college, perhaps the Chamber of commerce or the PDA. Why are other school systems in neighboring counties preforming better? Could it be as simple as the schools? Now by simple I don't mean the solution is simple but let's start somewhere  ...  Please.

I recently heard a little buzz going around town about the Furlow Charter School. I had no clue what this was so since we have one child in public school and home school another, we decided to attend an informational meeting. I learned that there is a solid group of people starting a public school option here in Sumter County!

What does that mean?

It would entail a different and aggressive approach to schooling beyond what the current system is able to offer. Project based learning, longer school days, smaller class sizes, test scores higher than the state average are required, Community learning hours and encouraged parental involvement, theres much more, but to move o n ....

The best thing I learned was that anyone can attend because it is a public school. The classes will be filled by a state run lottery of all applying students. I think all the citizens would love a new choice for their children's education. Right? Well not exactly, one of the steps is to apply to be part of the local school board. This is where it gets messy.

A committee was formed by the superintendent. The committee was 1 school system retiree and the rest were school system employees. At a minimum, a huge advantage to being a part of the system would the an increase in the average test scores ( ue to the state requirement of above average scoring ). However, the public and school board have been told that the committee recommended against accepting Furlow Charter School as a part of the system. The committee met twice but not all committee members were present. The committee did not receive a presentation to educate them about the Charter school. We were told that this was a unanimous decision which I find odd, when do 10 educators agree on something with limited information. The board of education is supposed to vote on this petition before the end of May. This school is very important to the future of our community and more importantly the future of our children! Ask your school board representative to vote to support the Furlow Charter School and vote for new leadership on May 20.

David S. Luvin


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