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Group seeks to establish arts charter school in Columbia County

Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 6:26 PM
Last updated Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 1:39 AM
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A local group intends to petition the Columbia County Board of Education to establish the county’s first charter school.

Todd Shafer, a fifth-grade teacher at Martinez Elementary School, said the group hopes to create a K-12 school that infuses art, music, dance, drama and foreign language into its curriculum. It will be known as Columbia County School for the Arts, according to the group’s letter of intent, which was sent to school Superintendent Sandra Carraway on Friday.

Should the group’s petition be approved by the school board, the charter school hopes to open by fall 2015, beginning with grades K-5 and adding a grade each year.

“It is our hope that we will not face opposition, but I know that the reality is there will be pushback,” Shafer said. “We want to work in partnership with the school district to continue and build on the very well-deserved reputation the district has.”

School board members were unaware of the group’s intentions and had not seen the letter of intent Friday.

Board Trustee Roxanne Whitaker said she “has never been a big proponent” of the charter school concept, but pledged to keep an open mind when the group presents its official petition.

“I have to admit that this is kind of a shock,” said Whitaker. “I would have thought Columbia County was one of the last places someone would want a charter school.”

She also questioned the need for a school with an arts infused curriculum since many schools already have strong arts programs.

“Harlem High School’s drama program is one of the best in the country,” she said.

Shafer said the charter school will serve students countywide and there will be no audition or selection process, such as the one at Davidson Fine Arts School in Augusta. When it reaches full enrollment, they expect to serve more than 1,100 students.

According to the group’s letter of intent, the mission of the proposed Columbia County School for the Arts is to develop students to become confident, creative and productive citizens within their community. Innovations will include:

- Daily instruction in the arts (visual, music, dance and drama)

- Daily instruction in foreign languages (K-12)

- Collaboration between the academic and arts faculty

- Cooperative teaching opportunities between academic, arts and foreign language faculty”

Shafer said the founding board includes Michael Berg, a colleague at Martinez Elementary; Ron and Kathleen Jones, of the Columbia County Ballet; Linda Scales, a founding member of the Jessye Norman School of the Arts; Carolyn Dolen, the executive director of the Augusta Choral Society; and Cindy Wilkinson, the worship leader at Mosaic United Methodist Church.

Shafer said Ed Innovation Partners, an Athens, Ga.-based firm is assisting in “the process of preparing the petition.”

He said the group does not have a private funding source or a location for the school. They are still in the initial stages and will be seeking a lot of public input throughout the process, he said.

“The next step is we’ll be holding community meetings to get feedback and answer any questions that the public will have,” Shafer said. “We want everyone’s help to plan a petition to create a school that will be beneficial to the entire community.”

Board Trustee Mike Sleeper said the biggest hurdle for this group is funding.

“That is the biggest problem for the Columbia County school system as well as the biggest problem in education in general,” he said.

Sleeper said he isn’t opposed to the charter school concept, but not all charter schools are alike.

“Charter schools have their place and there are some instances that work well. Is this one of them? I don’t know,” he said. “I would be very interested in what they intend to do, where they are going to go and how we’ll pay for it.”

Mission and Vision Statements

Mission Statement

The Columbia County School for the Arts (CCSFTA) mission is to develop students to become confident, creative, and productive citizens within their community.

Vision Statement

The Columbia County School for the Arts (CCSFTA) will be a school of academic excellence for students in grades K-12 that will develop the whole student through a curriculum that infuses music, drama, visual arts, dance, and foreign language into the core academic areas of math, language, science, and social studies. We envision developing students who are academically, artistically, and socially competent so that they will exit our school as independent, cooperative, responsible, and creative young adults with a continuing interest and ability in learning and the arts. We believe that these skills and qualities will prepare our students to pursue additional educational goals and allow them to contribute to the life and well being of society as a whole.

Our vision includes the belief that:

  • An academic curriculum infused with the fine arts will increase academic achievement. 
  • Collaboration amongst academic and fine arts faculty members will yield strong and creative academic lessons that will reach each individual’s learning style. 
  • Students who are nurtured by a high quality team of teachers will recognize their intrinsic talents and through the guidance of a dedicated faculty will develop and utilize these talents to their fullest potential and find a path in life that will lead to self actualization and happiness. 
  • Students need an understanding of, and access to, the latest and developing technologies in order to ensure their participation and assimilation into a technologically developing global society.
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corgimom
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corgimom 02/01/14 - 02:27 pm
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Any child in a Private school

Any child in a Private school at any level,can beat every Liberal government controlled School student, hands down.

I don't agree with that at all.

I saw kids in the public school that I volunteered in that would knock your socks off. I'd put them up against any child, anywhere.

speakout77
54
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speakout77 02/01/14 - 02:32 pm
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Charter School in Columbia County is Great Plan!

Great plan for students and parents in Columbia Cty who want the best possible education for their children. Charter schools do not have busing, so this not an added expense for tax payers. These parents have to get their children to school. Every child is eligible to attend. These charter schools work extremely well because the parents , teachers and administrators work together to ensure goals for students are obtained. Hope this school becomes a reality!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/01/14 - 02:43 pm
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Corgimom, maybe so, but in

Corgimom, maybe so, but in general you can predict school results from the demographics about the parents. With private schools generally the parents are wealthier and the kids in those schools do better.

Now, I do wonder about some private schools locally. I hear little about their SAT's and so on. It appears they are more of an alternative because of things such as religion. Know what I mean?

I worked with a guy who sent his son to Augusta Prep while I bragged about my kid's name being in the paper for Lakeside playing baseball. His son went to Harvard while mine played baseball for a state school. (It turned out all right. I still love my son. Heh.)

corgimom
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corgimom 02/01/14 - 02:50 pm
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Riverman, a lot of the

Riverman, a lot of the private schools in RC are because of desegregation. They are religious schools, so they can say that it's because they want to teach religious values- and that's not altogether wrong- but a lot of them have kids because their parents don't want their kids in RC schools.

I don't blame them for one minute, either.

woodymeister
389
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woodymeister 02/01/14 - 03:30 pm
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Power Struggle?

The Martinez Elementary employee driving this effort is struggling to lead something, anything. He has tried and tried to break into school leadership but has been shunned each time. If you can't beat it, start sonething new...I guess. The fact that he continues to post it on Facebook tells me he is not getting the response he wants.

In the business world, he would be fired or put in a job that would make him quit. You never ever "take on" your employer in public without at least sharing your intentions first.

If this gig doesn't work out, he may want to start checking out openings in the Richmond County school system.

CobaltGeorge
175532
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CobaltGeorge 02/01/14 - 04:00 pm
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corgimom....

I have computer known you for quite a while. I have yet to figure you out. I have read about 99% of every comment you have made. One minute you are a very intelligent lady containing a life time of Common Sense and then there are times that all I can say is Damn. I have given many uppers today.

Now with that said, how many students have you known that are Juniors or Seniors from public schools in this area that have already signed or will sign a 6 digit salary upon graduation with large corporations? The Private school that my Grand Girl is going to, I know of 5 in the past 3 years. None are for athletic contracts. 100% have always graduated with high honors or scholarships. My sons son has went to this private school for 9 years and will graduate this year. He already has a 6 digit contract with a very large Animation movie company.

With that said, I will accept anyone of your (Junior or Senior) gifted public school student and I will pick a (Junior or Senior) student from this Private school and lets put them head to head..Students need to be tested in all level of education equivalent to 1 completed college level education. Part of the test must include 1 hour of nothing but Common Sense questions. Would a $1000.00 wager be ok. OH, students must have 11 or 12 years without any known record or violation of school policies.

dahreese
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dahreese 02/01/14 - 04:47 pm
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@Corgimom: "Any child in a
Unpublished

@Corgimom: "Any child in a Private school at any level,can beat every Liberal government controlled School student, hands down."

Consider the source....

This is a "I just gotta say 'something' post.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 02/01/14 - 04:56 pm
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Question corgimom.

I have been unable to Google or find any data that outlines the breakdown for each school the number of White/Black teachers in the RC school system. Why, because I would like to get a feel of Liberal/Conservative teaching that the students are receiving. I know that sound racist but facts are facts.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 02/01/14 - 04:59 pm
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dahreese

You got that right, the source is me. Noted.

DoggieMom
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DoggieMom 02/01/14 - 04:59 pm
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Charter School

Columbia County needs this, but please start with high school & middle school first. Our high schools have become filled with problems, to the point I would choose to home school, before sending my youngest child to a Columbia County Public High School.
Unfortunately, there's not a high school with high discipline, academic, & arts emphasis. Please consider a centrally located, Arts Emphasis, Columbia County High School.
The elementary school should be in a different location, for children's safety, traffic congestion, & costs of larger buildings.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 02/01/14 - 05:05 pm
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DoggieMom

I would agree with Charter school as long as they operated like Military schools throughout the world.

"Our high schools have become filled with problems" (That would take care of the major problem in our education system today.)

dahreese
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dahreese 02/01/14 - 05:37 pm
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George, I appreciate your
Unpublished

George, I appreciate your military service.

We all do.

I wasn't a career man, but I did do four with the USAF 12/62 - 12/66.

And while there is something to be said for regimentation, there's also the aspect of it that kills creativity and devalues individual freedom in favor of the masses, better known as "the bewildered herd."

Our presidents lie.

Our Congresspersons lie.

Our generals lie.

Our corporations lie.

Most of our ministers lie (but that's another topic).

And the biggest part of our "official" history, prior to 1950 (reference your post above), is a lie.

The only glue left holding this nation together as a nation is public education.

As weak as it is, it still serves the nation.

And some of us, somehow, somewhere, bit by bit managed to break away from the regimentation it taught and to see reality, not what we are/were told is reality.

countyman
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countyman 02/01/14 - 06:00 pm
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How did you figure the

How did you figure the majority of kids in RC schools are poor?

The same few people who feel the need to bash Richmond County, they rush to take up for Columbia County..

Riverman1
93494
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Riverman1 02/01/14 - 06:07 pm
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Countyman, are you serious?

Countyman, are you serious? The government provides free breakfast and lunch year round for all students in Richmond County because 75% of the students qualify.

corgimom
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corgimom 02/01/14 - 06:31 pm
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dahreese-Are you aware that

dahreese-Are you aware that this "Any child in a Private school at any level,can beat every Liberal government controlled School student, hands down."

is what CG said, and not me?

Yes, perhaps you should consider the source, I wouldn't say something like that, ever.

Because what I know is that private schools have lots of dummies too, they take them if the parent will pay the tuition, especially if there are siblings or the parents heavlly endow the school. They don't care, money is money.

In fact, some parents with not-so-bright kids heavily endow schools just for that reason.

CG, while I am very pleased that your grandbabies are doing so well-chip off the old block, of course- your bet is nice talk, but it ain't happening.

However, I will tell you that my husband's great nephew got a perfect SAT score in math, majored in statistics, and is now in the doctorate program at Univ of Florida- and attended a little suburban public school in the suburbs of Charlotte.

There are some really bright, bright kids in public schools, to say that they are all in private school isn't accurate. Smart kids have a way of doing well wherever they go.

corgimom
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corgimom 02/01/14 - 06:34 pm
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"How did you figure the

"How did you figure the majority of kids in RC schools are poor?"

No, Countyman, Riverman used his Spidey-Sense to figure it out!

And then to double check, I called Miss Cleo to get a psychic reading, juxt to make sure!

GEEEEZZZEEE!

dahreese
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dahreese 02/01/14 - 06:42 pm
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@Corgimom; "dahreese-Are you
Unpublished

@Corgimom; "dahreese-Are you aware that this "Any child in a Private school at any level,can beat every Liberal government controlled School student, hands down."

is what CG said, and not me?"

Yes. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 02/01/14 - 07:12 pm
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Man OH Man

Where in living hell did I make the statement ""ANY" child in a Private school at ANY LEVEL, CAN BEAT EVERY LIBERAL GOVERNMENT CONTROLLED SCHOOL STUDENT, HANDS DOWN"

corgimom**You made this statement. "I saw kids in the public school that I volunteered in that would knock your socks off. I'd put them up against any child, anywhere."

Then dahreese come back with a standard Liberal lack of word understanding which is standard come back from any Liberal in any debate.

At that point I said to myself, It was a waste of time trying to explain to a human with 3rd grade reading comprehension.

corgimom, I think the main word in my comparison was "GIFTED"
and I totally agree with your comment "There are some really bright, bright kids in public schools, to say that they are all in private school isn't accurate. Smart kids have a way of doing well wherever they go."

I disagree with the statement "Because what I know is that private schools have lots of dummies too"

I hate the word dummies and if a student in private school doesn't perform up to standards, They don't stay around too long.

I'm going to leave this debate without further debate.

countyman
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countyman 02/01/14 - 07:15 pm
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False

Riverman.. Are you serious?? The black population is 73%, and not your imaginary 75%..

75% of students qualified for what? Please show me the facts to backup your claims?

The federal lunch program didn't began until this school year(2013)..

Before the program started in 2013, 78% of students qualified for free or reduced lunch.. 22% of the students had to pay for lunch..

Corgimom.. Please stop with the sarcastic comments, because you live all the way in Charlotte..

corgimom
38321
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corgimom 02/01/14 - 07:24 pm
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You're the one who told me

You're the one who told me that H&M was coming to Augusta before it was coming to Charlotte, which was incorrect by the way. We've had one for a couple of years now, and we are getting #2 and #3.

You're the one who talks about how prestigious it is to have an H&M store, not me.

Now, if Nordie's comes to Augusta, THAT'S prestige.

corgimom
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corgimom 02/01/14 - 07:29 pm
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CG, you may hate the word,

CG, you may hate the word, but I'm telling you, they are there.

Kids are kids, and yes, even wealthy parents have kids that just don't have it. They aren't going to send them to public school and put the rest pf their kids in a private school.

The schools don't put them out, because then the family would pull the rest of the kids out, and that would mean too big of a loss of income.

Take a look at the endowments that the private schools get in Augusta, some of those endowments are breathtaking.

There are wealthy kids that are have learning disabilities, and are ADHD, and ADD, and badly behaved, too.

Remember how not too long ago, some Augusta Prep kids vandalized a public school?

corgimom
38321
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corgimom 02/01/14 - 07:32 pm
3
2
"Before the program started

"Before the program started in 2013, 78% of students qualified for free or reduced lunch.. 22% of the students had to pay for lunch.."

Yes, that means that MOST OF THE STUDENTS IN RC SCHOOLS ARE POOR!

What ELSE would that mean?

corgimom
38321
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corgimom 02/01/14 - 07:34 pm
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1
And along with that poverty,

And along with that poverty, comes the dreadful graduation rates- less than 60%.

The RCBOE is failing the citizens of RC and most of all, the children that attend those schools.

Riverman1
93494
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Riverman1 02/01/14 - 08:28 pm
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3
"Before the program started

"Before the program started in 2013, 78% of students qualified for free or reduced lunch.. 22% of the students had to pay for lunch.."

Uh, what are we arguing about again? Hilarious.

Riverman1
93494
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Riverman1 02/01/14 - 08:34 pm
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Dahreese, the standards could

Dahreese, the standards could also have the effect of keeping a majority of the kids in line and studying too...even if a few don't cooperate and are asked to leave. Every child doesn't have to do well in a charter or private school for them to have superior results.

Dixieman
17306
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Dixieman 02/01/14 - 08:56 pm
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1
Sigh.

I'll try once more.
Public education is run for the benefit of the teachers, administrators and others who work there. They have seized power. It's as user-friendly as DDS because it is a government MONOPOLY and does not have to compete for students. "Education" there is worse than a joke - it actively harms those kids.
Private/charter schools have to COMPETE to attract users (parents and students). This is healthy competition. If they don't perform, they go out of business. This makes them strive mightily to educate the kids well, get them into good colleges, etc., not just to put in their time and tear another day off their calendar while they are waiting for their pensions.
Believe what you want but these are irrefutable facts. And please don't experiment with your own kids to prove an ideological point - you only get one chance to bring them up and educate them.
Dixieman out.

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