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Theme school discussed by BOE
Superintendent recommends theme school open next fall
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 Newton County Board of Education members will vote Tuesday on whether to approve a recommendation by Superintendent Steve Whatley to establish a theme school for the 2009-2010 school year.

A presentation was brought before the board at their work session Oct. 14 by the theme school committee, which has met several times over a five-month period to prepare general recommendations for the board.

The committee recommended that a theme school in Newton County school do several things, including offer academic enhancements beyond the current curriculum, raise standards of academic success and parental involvement, serve as many students as possible and open as soon as possible, possibly in the new "Kirkland Road" elementary school.

The committee detailed what they would like to see happen in each category. Possible enhancements for academics may include Spanish or Latin, enhanced technology, more rigorous math and science and visual and performing arts.

Students would be expected to abide by contract stipulations with consequences if they do not. The hope is that the magnet program would "create a school community with mutual respect for all."

Another hope for the theme school is increased parental involvement, including a contract signed by parents that would require them to volunteer a certain number of hours per semester or year in a variety of ways. Student volunteer hours are also a consideration.

According to his memo to the board, Whatley said he believes "in providing choice other than that which is required to be granted in limited situations under No Child Left Behind, the administration has reviewed the report of the committee and considered possible options."

At this point the theme school(s) would be opened in the fall of 2009 focusing on parent involvement as the theme.

 Specifics are still being ironed out at this time as to where the program would be held, the additional costs, if any, parental interest, transportation issues and student selection procedures, among others.