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School system figures out what it will be
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What kind of school system will Newton County be in the next five years?

That was the implied question that was posed to the Newton County School Board (BOE) by Newton County School System Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey during the board’s Tuesday night work session.

Under Georgia law, each local school system has to submit paperwork to the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE) letting the agency know what type of school system it wants to be in the future.

This multiple choice test comes with three options to choose from:

• Investing in Education Excellence Flexibility Model (IE²)

• Charter School System

• Status Quo System

Fuhrey explained to the board that the IE² option was the best model to choose. It ensures that school-level student achievement goals are sufficiently rigorous to warrant granting the governance flexibility requested by the local school district, according to school documents.

The deadline to notify the GDOE is June 30.

Under the IE² model, students will be expected to achieve at least a 3 percent increase from the difference in College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores from the initial year the program was implemented and 100.

The program has performance contracts that last five years, and students will have to hit this mark at least three times within that span to meet the standard. The improvement doesn’t have to be in consecutive years, says Fuhrey.

“It can be year 1, year 3, year 5. They don’t have to do it every single year,” she told the board. “Although, that would absolutely be our goal as a school system under this model.”

Fuhrey explained the calculation that will be used to determine achievement in this model by saying if the baseline score for the initial CCRPI year was 70 percent, then 70 would be subtracted from 100, giving a difference of 30 percent.

Three-percent of 30 is .9 percent. This .9 percent would be added to the baseline CCRPI score and subsequent scores to project the target marks for the school system. So, the targets in this example would be: 70.9 percent for year1, 71.8 for year 2, 72.7 for year 3, 73.6 for year 4 and 74.5 for year 5.

Since the state is transitioning to new standardized testing next school year, Fuhrey says the 2015-2016 year will be the baseline scores, with improvement expected in the 2016-2017 school year.

Schools not meeting the CCRPI target mat be required to develop school improvement plans to address specific academic deficiencies or develop a joint plan with direct school management support and intensive teacher/leader development.

At the end of the five-year agreement, if a school hasn’t met performance requirements, then Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) will recommend consequences to the state board, including probation, remedial action plans, conversion to a charter school, operation by a successful school system/ school operator or review of additional system developed recommendations.

However, school systems can get a “second look,” which means if the system is determined to be “beating the odds” through an analysis that compares the schools with schools of similar demographics, it will be consider the same as meeting the yearly performance target.

The charter school model is similar to the IE model in that it requires a five-year contract, but this system will focus on improving student performance by implementing and maximizing school level governance.

The status quo option doesn’t allow for school flexibility, comes with no performance contract and doesn’t allow financial waivers.

BOE Member Eddie Johnson, District 2, asked Fuhrey was it possible to pick the status quo system and then changed to another model soon after.

“I don’t know if you have to absolutely wait until the end of the five year cycle, but the contract is for five years,” answered Fuhrey. “I haven’t seen or heard of anyone at this point where they have selected an option and then... opted to make the adjustment.”

Johnson responded by saying that he thinks the law makers are trying “to destroy public education as we know it.”

“We do a pretty good job in our school system, but if we are going to accomplish our budget objectives, we cannot afford to not have the waivers that we currently have and that’s just the reality,” said Fuhrey.

The BOE will vote on this issue at their voting meeting Tuesday, April 21, at the Newton County Board of Education building, 2109 Newton Drive, Covington at 7 p.m.