Pupils in some Columbia and Richmond county schools will be able to take advantage of tutoring, after-school programs and other free services under a national education reform package.
President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" act requires school systems to offer extra academic assistance or supplemental services for pupils in schools that have not made adequate yearly progress for three or more years.
The most highly publicized and confusing provision of the law has been the school choice option. The law gives parents of pupils at failing Title I schools the option to transfer their child to a higher-performing school or choosing supplemental services.
School officials warn that if parents choose the school choice option, their child will be allowed to attend another school only until their original school comes off the failing list.
Because of capacity issues in local schools, education officials are urging parents to take advantage of the supplemental services provision of the law. Parents cannot apply for both provisions.
"We want parents to take advantage of the programs available at their schools," said Geneva Stallings, the Title I director for Richmond County schools.
Providers of the supplemental services must have demonstrated their effectiveness and be selected by parents from a list approved by the state.
School systems are required to work with private educational companies to offer pupils in the failing schools academic assistance outside of the regular school day. The law does allow for school systems to be included on the provider list.
Columbia County and Richmond County school systems have applied to be a provider of supplemental services.
Ms. Stallings said the county will continue to offer after-school programs and weekend programs, such as the Geo-Algebra Institute for those pupils who need additional help, but more programs will be added.
"We will be adding an additional program on Saturdays to help our middle schoolers prepare for the (preliminary SAT),"she said.
Both school systems will notify parents, detailing the school choice option and the supplemental services.
Columbia County parents requesting supplemental services or school choice will have until Aug. 20 to apply. Parents will be notified Aug. 23 if their request is approved.
No deadline has been set for Richmond County.
Staff Writer Melissa Hall contributed to this article.
Schools that will offer supplemental services:
Glenn Hills Elementary
Wheeless Road Elementary
Wilkinson Gardens Elementary
Windsor Spring Elementary
North Harlem Elementary
Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 823-3552, or firstname.lastname@example.org.