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Theme school planned by NCSS
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Newton County students in elementary and middle school will now have a theme school option beginning next year. The Board of Education approved during its Dec. 9 meeting Superintendent R. Steven Whatley's recommendations for the creation of two new theme schools.

"The recommendation to the board is that an elementary and middle theme school be established and that the elementary and middle school attendance zones and sites be set for 2009-2010..." Whatley said.

The two theme schools - one for kindergarten to fifth grades and the other for sixth to eighth grades - will operate with an emphasis on parental involvement. The sites for the theme schools are Fairview Elementary and Clements Middle Schools.

For elementary students, the theme school will be opened at Fairview Elementary with a maximum enrollment of 725 students. A new super zone for the theme school will be created to include Fairview, Ficquett, Palmer-Stone and West Newton elementary schools. There will be 625 seats available for students living inside the super zone. An additional 100 seats will be available for students living outside of the super zone. Students currently zoned for Fairview Elementary will be rezoned to the new elementary school on Kirkland Road, which is set to open in September.

For middle school students, the theme school will be opened at Clements Middle School with a maximum enrollment of 850 students. Students currently zoned for Clements Middle School will be rezoned to Liberty Middle School, which also is set to open in September.

The elementary school will pilot programs that integrate research-centered/hands-on projects, critical thinking skills, especially in math and science and increased reading assignments at home and during the summer break. In addition to the requirements at the elementary level, the middle school also will offer a comprehensive, interdisciplinary educational program.

Students will only be allowed to attend a theme school once during their elementary school career and once during their middle school career. Parents are not allowed to enroll, withdraw and enroll a student again. Students also are expected to enroll with a commitment to attend the school for at least one year.

The school system will begin accepting applications for the theme school in January.