Speaker will share ideas for school system

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Richmond County parents who want to see a change in their public school system may attend a presentation Friday that tells how one Georgia school system turned itself around.

When Gainesville City Schools struggled, school officials empowered parents and teachers to make changes.

On Friday, Richmond County parents will learn how that education model, one praised by President Bush and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, might do the same in Augusta.

"This is the greatest chance for them to come hear how this system works and how it affects their children," school board member Frank Dolan said.

Gainesville Superintendent Steven Ballowe will make two public presentations Friday. The first will be designed for school administrators at 11 a.m., and the second, at 1 p.m., will be designed for parents.

"It's the best chance we've ever had to get these kids educated," Mr. Dolan said of the Gainesville approach.

It took about three years to implement the Gainesville model and change the culture of education, Dr. Ballowe said. And it can be implemented in Richmond County.

Under the model, children are tested every nine weeks to monitor progress. The test results are posted in hallways and online for every classroom, and parents use that information in choosing which schools their children attend and which teachers work with their children.

Mr. Dolan said board members share a common objective of student achievement, although there has been some frustration over how to achieve that objective.

It is "very likely" that Richmond County will adopt the Gainesville approach.

"Gainesville went from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the state," Mr. Dolan said.

He urged parents to attend the meeting Friday.

"This is the biggest chance for parents to ever affect what their children do," he said.

Dr. Ballowe called the Gainesville model a "common-sense approach," one that gives parents control.

The presentations won't be the first for the Gainesville superintendent, who said he has seven or eight this month alone. He has spoken throughout Georgia and in South Carolina and Florida.

To learn more about the program, visit Gainesville's Web site, www.gcssk12.net.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

IF YOU GO


What: Richmond County Board of Education public meetings on the Gainesville model


When: 11 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. Friday for administrators and 1-2:30 p.m. for parents

Where: School board central office, 864 Broad St.


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