Originally created 08/07/03

County has four schools on list



School started Wednesday for Columbia County schools, but school choice did not.

Columbia County has four schools thatdid not meet adequate yearly progress: Harlem High, Grovetown Middle, Euchee Creek Elementary and North Harlem Elementary.

Euchee Creek and North Harlem failed to meet standards for two years and must offer pupils at those schools the opportunity to transfer to higher-performing schools. The other two have a year to improve education standards before they must offer school choice.

Personnel at Euchee Creek and North Harlem elementary schools will send letters today to parents informing them of their rights to choose another school or request supplemental services, said Gloria Hamilton, Columbia County's Title I coordinator.

The letters will contain forms for parents to fill out and return to Mrs. Hamilton. Parents will receive a response within 10 days, she said.

Both Euchee Creek and North Harlem met or exceeded the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test score indicators, Mrs. Hamilton said.

Both schools also met the 95 percent test participation requirement. Their downfall was attendance. Both had 16 percent of the student body miss 15 days or more.

"That's what left them on the needs-improvements list - not the academics," she said.

Only six parents requested transfers last year, and Mrs. Hamilton is not expecting a large number to do so this year.

In the outlying counties, McDuffie County joined Lincoln County as the only local systems that did not have a school on the list.

McDuffie County Superintendent Ed Grisham credited the system's teachers - and a series of school programs - with the success.

He said school leaders have implemented a systemwide reading program, an intensive after-school program and a series of assessment tests to help pupils.

"But most important are our teachers," he said. "They are well-trained and doing a fine job."

Staff Writers Melissa Hall and Jason B. Smith contributed to this article.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylviaco@augustachronicle.com.