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Georgia pressured on education funds

ATLANTA — The U.S. Department of Education is pressuring Georgia to follow through on promises the state made last year to win $400 million in the “Race to the Top” grant competition.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a draft progress report shows Georgia was slow to fill 21 jobs considered key to completing the state’s education reform plans. That means the state is about six months behind in piloting its teacher evaluation system, which begins next month.

The slow pace is in part because the state elected a new governor and state schools chief, and six of the 26 school districts participating in the grant program hired new superintendents.

Teresa MacCartney, who oversees the grant, said state officials weren’t surprised by the issues raised in the report.

“This is very complicated work,” she told the newspaper.

Grand jury seeks inquiry of board

DECATUR, GA. — A grand jury is calling for a special investigation of the DeKalb County school board.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in Friday’s editions that a DeKalb County Superior Court grand jury has recommended that a special grand jury look into the county school board, saying it’s clear that the school system “remains top-heavy and suffers from a perception of conflicts of interest and waste.”

The grand jury cited the drawn-out process that led to the hiring of Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson.

The board spent two years trying to hire a permanent superintendent to replace former chief Crawford Lewis, who was fired in 2010 just before he was indicted on charges he ran a criminal enterprise in the school system.

In other news

A BILL RECENTLY filed by a Republican state senator from Spartanburg, S.C., would add five crimes to the list of offenses eligible for a life sentence. Sen. Shane Martin’s bill would add common law robbery, discharging a weapon into a dwelling and aggravated criminal domestic violence to the state’s most serious offenses, along with resisting arrest with a deadly weapon and taking a weapon from a law officer.

ATLANTA POLICE say they’re planning to monitor the massive crowds expected for the Peach Drop on New Year’s Eve from a new video center that can access thousands of public and private security cameras in the city.

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