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Ombudsman presents offers new site
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After a rough start this year, Ombudsman has found a new site for the county’s alternative school. It will be up to the board if they choose to go with that location or keep things at Sharp Learning Center, where Ombudsman has been operating from since the beginning of the school year.

The board chose to eliminate Sharp and go with the Ombudsman program, saving the system roughly $1.9 million from its general fund budget. The original sites were identified in March; however, the system was notified in August by the Georgia Department of Education that both locations were not approved based on state regulation.

In a pinch, they opened Ombudsman in Sharp on Aug. 4, where it has been operating since while Ombudsman searches for new locations that meet state and local requirements.

According to a presentation made Tuesday at the school board's monthly work session, Ombudsman has evaluated more than 50 sites but rejected them due to size or proximity to gas stations/alcohol sales.

Sept. 13 a recently constructed site was found on ByPass Road, and since there have been no sites located that fit the bill on the western side of the county, Ombudsman recommended the ByPass location for both centers.

The thought is that two separate and distinct centers can be operated out of the 10,000 square foot center. Ombudsman would be the sole occupier of the building and it would allow for transportation to one central site. It is also an option to operate one site out of that location and to have one continue to operate out of Sharp while Ombudsman officials continue to search for a good location on the western side of the county.

The board requested that Ombudsman come up with an agreement for renting Sharp and pay, just like any other business renting the site, for any past and future usage of the building.

There are currently 158 students enrolled in the Ombudsman program and attendance is at 86 percent, up 1 percent from Sharp last year. They have dealt with only 49discipline incidents, where Sharp had 652.

The school board will hear options from Ombudsman at their next meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 25.