The Richmond County School System has seen increases in test scores, graduation rates and its College and Career Ready Performance Index over the last year, but at the school system’s annual report on Tuesday, Superintendent Dr. Angela Pringle said there is still more work to do.
“It means we’ve got to take that one in five that didn’t graduate, and we’ve got to really put some work to those students to see what happened and we’re doing just that,” she said. “We are moving forward.”
The report comes just one year after Gov. Nathan Deal told the school system to make improvements with thousands of people expected to move to the area for cyber security-related jobs in Richmond County and Fort Gordon.
“I think (Dr. Pringle) took that as a challenge and then she passed it to every single stakeholder that was involved,” Tom Clark, executive director of the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon, said.
Those stakeholders included parents, teachers, administrators, assistant superintendents and community partners.
“Our success is because we have educators across the district, we have support staff across the district, who understand the expectations,” Pringle said.
One of the major ventures the community and educators have worked on are programs for post-graduate work to increase the likelihood that a student will graduate from high school.
Pringle said according to statistics of the National Electrical Contractors Association, 7,000 electricians join the field every day but 10,000 retire in that same time frame. This phenomena, sometimes referred to as the “silver tsunami,” is affecting jobs in a number of skill trades including masonry, welding, plumbing and HVAC. Richmond County is providing students learning opportunities through Josey High School’s skilled trades center, which is currently being constructed and will be ready for the 2018-2019 school year. Pringle said 300 students have signed up for classes at the center already. The program is open to all Richmond County students.
“Right now it’s a wide open field and something that I can see for many, many years to come,” she said.
More students are also participating in dual enrollment programs, allowing them to gain college credit while still being enrolled in high school.
In the conclusion of the annual report, Pringle asked the community to focus on what students were accomplishing.
“It’s easy to get caught up with what our kids are not doing. It’s easy to get caught up in the kid who makes an error in his life or her life and they do wrong,” Pringle said. “The hard thing is to open our eyes and really see what kids are doing right.”