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Posted: August 23, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Our Thoughts... Parental involvement?

Lately, there has been much discussion about the new Newton County theme schools. Unfortunately, most of it has been negative. However, the bad news has been about administration and parental issues rather than academics.

The theme schools, located at Clements Middle and Fairview Elementary, were set up in order to encourage students who had trouble achieving in a traditional setting and to encourage successful students to perform even better.

The concept of the schools was based on complete parental involvement; this was stressed in many articles published in our paper and in meetings hosted by school staff before the first day of classes.

Parents actually had to sign a contract that spelled out their expected level of involvement.

We addressed this in an earlier editorial stating that if you as a parent signed this agreement without the slightest intention of following through the agreement — then shame on you. Your child deserves to be sent back to his or her home school.

This week the busing issue has become a flashpoint for some parents. We are going to guess that some of the same folks who went to a BOE meeting the other night — whose concerns were weakened by their less than polite behavior as some spoke out of turn and over explanations offered by board members — are some of the same parents who have no intention of being involved with their children at the new school.

We have no doubt that there have been some mixed signals on how children were going to be bused to and from the school.

But in the board’s defense, this was a new endeavor for the county and the state has drained their already thin budget.

It also does not make financial sense to provide door-to-door transportation. We agree with a comment one of our readers posted online: "One child riding a huge bus alone is a waste of gasoline for the school system (and a waste of my tax dollars hard at work to provide that gas)" — ABH.

To provide this would mean a tax increase for the citizens of Newton County; this is an unacceptable solution to the problem.

The most practical solution seems to be the current plan of having drop off and pick up points set around the county. This is what other counties do and we understand that the board chose the locations as central places closest to neighborhoods of parents who listed "transportation" as one of their main concerns.

We believe the theme school will become the pride and joy of our education system here in Newton County, but it will take 100 percent cooperation between teachers, students, parents and caring local groups who recognize that the education of our children is a community effort.

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