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Officials wary of magnet school attraction

Stricter residency rules considered

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Richmond County school board member Jimmy Atkins is concerned about people crossing borders, but it has nothing to do with illegal immigration.

At a recent school board meeting, Atkins said people from other counties are sending their children to Richmond County schools, especially magnet schools.

"We still have a big problem in this county with students from other counties and even other states with us being a border community attending schools here," he said.

To address the situation, Atkins recently asked school administrators to consider devising a plan this summer "to where we can completely address that issue." He later said officials need to crack down more on such cases, adding that he would even favor out-of-county parents with children in Richmond County schools being fined the cost per day to educate that child.

"Whatever it takes to put a stop to it," he said.

When school starts, two forms proving a student's residency now will be required for admission, said A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School Principal Deborah Walker.

"This year, before any student will be allowed to register at A.R. Johnson, a new contract must be signed and proof of residency for all students must be established," she said. "We have two notaries in the building who will be checking the official documents at registration."

Atkins gave his fellow board members a recent example of a case that he says proves across-the-border activity has been ongoing.

He said a friend of his who is a sheriff's sergeant had pulled a woman over to ticket her and asked where she was headed. The woman said she was driving to A.R. Johnson, but the officer noticed she had a Columbia County car tag.

Atkins said the officer asked the woman why she would be heading to A.R. Johnson. "She said, 'Well, we don't have magnet schools in Columbia County.' So, I know that it's still happening."

Atkins, whose son attends C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School, also said he has noticed "numerous tags from other counties and from South Carolina" as people pick up or drop off students.

The discussion about out-of-county students came after the board was told Richmond County's enrollment could increase at the start of next school year, which he said could place a further strain on a system already financially stressed from years of state cutbacks.

A.R. Johnson Assistant Principal Lou Anne Grove said she isn't aware of any students from outside of the county attending her school.

Grove said people sometimes forget that children of Georgia educators can attend the school where a parent teaches. Grove said there also are cases of shared custody, where one parent lives in Richmond County. If a child lives with a Richmond County parent, the student can apply for A.R. Johnson.

Student Services Director Carol Rountree said in an e-mail that her office also is responsive to public reports of possible violators.

"If someone notifies us that there is a violation, it is referred to the school social worker assigned to that building who then makes a home visit to verify physically that the family resides at the school in question," she said, noting that the same procedure applies to magnet schools.

Rountree said that if it's determined someone was admitted with inaccurate information the parent is notified in writing that the student will be withdrawn and must attend classes at the appropriate school.

Comments (48) Add comment
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cleanup
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cleanup 06/18/10 - 04:41 am
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Atkins has bigger things to

Atkins has bigger things to worry about, especially his own ouster from the board following horrible decisions, including worshipping the shyster Bedden. Walker is gone (good for ARJ); unfortunately for them they will still suffer from Grove. Walker has allowed students to remain at the school when no parents live in the district. She has also allowed students in when they did not pass the entrance exams, but know her personally. Hopefully, the new principal can bring back some integrity to the administration at the school.

disssman
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disssman 06/18/10 - 04:41 am
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How about just making the

How about just making the parents show a drivers license and a vehicle registration when enrolling their kids? Strange they didn't say what they are going to use to verify the kids residence other than a sworn affidavit from the parent which is essentially what they do now. In any event Jimmy is a keeper. If he was in my district, he is an incumbent I would vote for.

cleanup
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cleanup 06/18/10 - 05:07 am
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Then, you haven't been paying

Then, you haven't been paying attention.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 06/18/10 - 05:42 am
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Why not raise the standards

Why not raise the standards at all schools to the level of those at magnet schools? Do this on both sides of the river. Leave a few schools at the current level, they don't attract outside students and will give the "n'er do wells" a place to hang until they're 16, and expect more at the majority of schools in the area. Of course, you won't produce many Dem voters, but the standard of education in the CSRA would sure improve the area in one generation.

Martinez
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Martinez 06/18/10 - 05:49 am
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I have to agree with dissman

I have to agree with dissman - Jimmy is a keeper... and I have been paying attention. I will say that this is an issue all over though. There are out of county kids attending the RC Magnet schools and out of county kids attending many CC schools. If both districts implemented consistant checks at the start of each school year, I would be curious to see if the numbers off-set each other.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/18/10 - 06:53 am
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It's probably about a 10 to 1

It's probably about a 10 to 1 ratio of Richmond Cty kids going to Columbia Cty schools compared to the other way around. If there were an effective way to stop the county line jumping, Richmond County schools would see a mass influx of new students.

JoJoBear
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JoJoBear 06/18/10 - 07:27 am
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They need to look at the

They need to look at the children living in West Lake and how many of them are attending Davidson Fine Arts School. We had someone from WL wanting to buy a house in our west Augusta neighborhood so his children could continue at DFA without a problem he stated.

Riverman1
90455
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Riverman1 06/18/10 - 07:44 am
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The reason I doubt many

The reason I doubt many Columbia Cty residents could get their kids in a Richmond Cty magnet school is the screening process the magnet school kids go through. The grades and behavior reports are checked from the Richmond Cty lower schools. How can a kid from Columbia Cty get in when the grades and so on from the previous school are checked?

Riverman1
90455
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Riverman1 06/18/10 - 07:47 am
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Question: Do the Richmond Cty

Question: Do the Richmond Cty magnet schools accept "special needs" children?

JoJoBear
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JoJoBear 06/18/10 - 07:54 am
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They use their family

They use their family member's addresses and state that they have moved from their last school area. This goes on all the time and was going on when my kids were at Davidson and they are now in their mid and late thirties. When folks want their kids in a certain school, they stop at nothing if they have the means to do so or the networking to help them do so.

JoJoBear
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JoJoBear 06/18/10 - 08:00 am
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That is an excellent question

That is an excellent question Riverman

Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/18/10 - 08:13 am
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JoJoBear, one of the reasons

JoJoBear, one of the reasons I'm asking is because the other Richmond Cty schools with special needs kids have to include their testing results along with those of the regular kids. That lowers the average. It could lead to artifically high scores at magnet schools if they don't have special needs kids. Then there is the bigger moral question, should the superior instruction not be offerred to the special needs kids? I don't know...just asking.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 06/18/10 - 08:48 am
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Riverman.. no they do not,

Riverman.. no they do not, and that is one major problem I have with these schools. Magnet schools by there very nature are discriminatory. They get to pick and choose the students that attend. For the most part students must have a minimum GPA and perform to a certain level on an entrance exam or audition in the case of Davidson. In Richmond County, magnet schools must also maintain racial quotas. I do not believe these schools have special ed classes. So it's rather easy to come out in top on test scores and rankings when you get to choose the very brightest students in the county (and from neighboring counties) and refuse to take the students who need special help. I'm of the belief that we need to improve all of our schools and not just create a few elitists schools that only a few lucky students can attend.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 06/18/10 - 08:51 am
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I'm not against magnet type

I'm not against magnet type progams, I just say integrate these programs into all of the schools, and not segregate these students into separate elitist schools.

DAMY46
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DAMY46 06/18/10 - 09:05 am
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Emerydan, The key to the

Emerydan,

The key to the magnet schools success can be found in one word..discipline

If you try to integrate that into the other schools you will loose 1/2 of the students..

Lost students equal lost federal and state funding.

Local Interests
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Local Interests 06/18/10 - 09:06 am
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The concept of a bell curve

The concept of a bell curve exists because it is observed in the real world.

There will always be some kids that will struggle with education. The public education system has remedial programs geared for them.

The average classroom is geared for the average student.

There will always exist a group of kids that take to education and learning better than their peers. We want to encourage these kids and not drag them down in the classroom because they are our future doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.

In an urban setting the magnet school concept is a reasonable and realistic solution to those realities. The racial balancing gives a traditionally under-represented group an opportunity for a quality education without the distractions that may exist in their own neighborhoods.

All that being said, the schools really should be more strict in their residency requirements. We see it all the time in Columbia County, and not just with Richmond County parents looking for a better school. Much of the time it is Columbia County parents "school shopping" for specific teachers or, quite often, for sports programs.

Riverman1
90455
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Riverman1 06/18/10 - 09:25 am
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I'm against the magnet

I'm against the magnet schools because they hurt the other schools by taking the brightest, most dedicated and well behaved students away. Those students would be a good influence on the others. Separate and NOT EQUAL is what results.

But since we know the magnet schools don't have special needs kids' scores included it makes Lakeside and some Columbia County schools look that much better. Lakeside was close behind Davidson in the state rankings, yet had to include special needs kids in their testing and reported scores.

JoJoBear
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JoJoBear 06/18/10 - 09:40 am
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You have some very talented

You have some very talented students that are sped students and with a little help, some would fair well at Davidson. I wonder how the Ga. Advocacy Org sees this issue. They have lawyers on staff that fight for the rights of the sped students. I know to get in you must carry a certain grade point average and fair well in the auditions to get on the list.

corgimom
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corgimom 06/18/10 - 09:49 am
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What you really need to be

What you really need to be concerned about is that 15% of students at Davidson receive free or reduced lunch compared to a district that has 78% of its students receiving free or reduced lunch.

If that's not discriminating against poor kids, then what is?

cleanup
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cleanup 06/18/10 - 10:08 am
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Yeah, but ARJ has a

Yeah, but ARJ has a relatively high percentage of free or reduced lunch, and a student body that is around 70% African-American. Two vastly different schools socioeconomically and demographically.

countyman
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countyman 06/18/10 - 01:23 pm
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The same few with their usual

The same few with their usual misinformation everyday. They continue to repeat false information even when they have been corrected numerous times. There is close to 70% of kids receiving free or reduced lunch. No need to lie because you want to push your agenda.

There is definitely more kids from CC in RC schools than the other way around.

Look at the high school options in CC? I know nobody from RC is sending there kids to Harlem or Grovetown. Evans is still okay but it's not as good as it used to be.. Which only leaves Greenbrier and Lakeside..

Riverman, Lakeside is nowhere near Davidson in anything. Davidson crushes every school in the entire CSRA.

blondietoo007
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blondietoo007 06/18/10 - 11:01 am
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The reason why all schools

The reason why all schools are not magnets? B/c parents are sorry! Parents have to actually PARTICIPATE in their childs education at Magnet schools. My child attends Davidson, we are middle class, not wealthy. All magents have an equal racial split. You people are missing the fact that ARC has the IB program too.
My child cries if she makes less than an A - b/c she cares about her education; she goes above and beyond in everything she does... sorry, but this is not a child that should be in an "average" anything and certainly NOT in the RC public high schools that I attended as a student.

larrytheunicorn
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larrytheunicorn 06/18/10 - 11:51 am
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I will be a senior at

I will be a senior at davidson this school year and i think all of you that think that magnet schools are discriminatory are just ridiculous. if the school was discriminatory then why would every visitor that comes through there comment on our racial equality. my family doesn't have money. i pay for my OWN lunch most of the time as do most of my friends. only about two of my friends come from a family of money. since i am about to enter my seventh year at the school, i do believe i would know better about the people that attend than those of you who have never stepped inside the doors of my school. i have never felt like the audition process was discriminatory. i looked around at my audition group thinking i wouldn't get in because the other people were all wearing designer clothes but I was the one that got in. also if the stricter courses were integrated in the other schools the dropout rate would soar through the roof. and the reason the better kids get separated is because of the challenge. how could we get any kind of rigor to our schoolwork if we had to work at a lower level. if you want to bad mouth the system you should probably get a bit more background on it before you start because you know nothing.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 06/18/10 - 11:59 am
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jojo.. my understanding is

jojo.. my understanding is that somehow magnet schools are exempt from taking spec ed students because these are "extra" schools, they are not zoned schools. The zoned schools can't exclude students. Now I am in favor of separate alternative schools for the disciplinary problems. It should be easier to remove disruptive and violent students from the schools. But I guarantee if you sampled just the top 200 students from westside, Lakeside, Greenbrier, etc.. that they would be on the same level of Davidson.. maybe even higher.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 06/18/10 - 12:05 pm
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Larry.. are you kidding me?

Larry.. are you kidding me? Of course the magnet schools are discriminatory. And they have to maintain a racial quota, which is around 50% black and white.. or whatever the racial breakdown of the county is. This means sometimes a white student with higher grades gets put on a waiting list so a black student can take the slot. Happens all the time. And the whole concept of magnet schools is discriminatory, which means the schools get to "choose" or discrimanate who their students are. Davidson doesn't have to take the kids with low GPAs, the discipline problems, the special ed students.. they get to cherry pick the best students. None of the other public schools get to do this.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 06/18/10 - 12:08 pm
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So how about making all of

So how about making all of the schools challenging instead of just doing this at just a couple of schools where only a hand select few can get in. I know some very bright kids who were on the waiting list to get into Davidson for years. If this style works, then implement it in all of the schools.

countyman
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countyman 06/18/10 - 01:22 pm
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Check the price of the

Check the price of the average home in neighborhoods zoned for Westside, Greenbrier, and Lakeside. Alot of the parents are providing a upper middle class lifestyle for their kids. Davidson and AR Johnson have upper middle class students too. But they also have a larger working class and middle class population than Greenbrier, Westside, and Lakeside.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/18/10 - 02:34 pm
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Countyman said, "Riverman,

Countyman said, "Riverman, Lakeside is nowhere near Davidson in anything. Davidson crushes every school in the entire CSRA."

Hey, I'm not knocking Davidson, but I'm pointing the fact they don't have to include special needs kids in their testing like Lakeside does. If Davidson had special needs kids and their test scores, they wouldn't rank as high. On the other hand, if Lakeside didn't have to include the scores of their special needs kids their scores would top Davidson.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 06/18/10 - 02:38 pm
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The high school portion at

The high school portion at Davidson is about 20% of the student body at Lakeside. I bet you if you took the top academically performing 20% from Lakeside, and excluded everyone else.. They would be on par or likely ahead of Davidson in most areas. Again, Davidson benefits from being able to do what most other public schools cannot do, and that is exclude underperforming and special needs students. They get to cherry pick the cream of the crop from all the other schools. Of course Davidson is going to rank high in things like SAT scores and graduation rates, etc, etc

Riverman1
90455
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Riverman1 06/18/10 - 02:39 pm
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Countyman, also realize

Countyman, also realize Westside is in Richmond Cty. I suspect Grovetown will score pretty high, but no one knows yet because their scores haven't been included.

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