Budget proposal could hurt pupils

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A proposal to help offset a $13 million budget shortfall in Richmond County schools could affect pupils most in need of academic help. The school system's Early Intervention Program, a practice designed to provide extra help for youngsters not performing at grade level in reading or math, would likely be weakened by budget decisions, according to documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle .

Richmond County school officials are expected to discuss the budget proposal during Thursday's meeting, and would not comment Tuesday.

Dr. Virginia Bradshaw, the assistant superintendent for instructional services, directed questions about the proposed changes to EIP Coordinator Jenà Kinnitt. However, Ms. Kinnitt said Superintendent Dana Bedden would answer questions after a public presentation is made Thursday.

In May, Ms. Kinnitt led a committee of Richmond County educators who reviewed how best to administer the program while keeping money in mind, according to minutes of the meeting, which were shown to The Chronicle. Currently, EIP teachers float from classroom to classroom and collaborate with other teachers. The new proposal calls for the teachers to be stationed in a classroom with only EIP students -- what educators call "self-contained" instruction.

The proposal aims to reduce the number of EIP teachers and increase the amount of state funding for the program.

Dr. Bedden acknowledged it could hurt academic performance.

"Dr. Bedden has clearly said that self-contained was not the best model but we need to look at funding," according to the minutes of the committee's meeting. "We have to make hard choices to see what we can afford."

Augusta State University education professor Paulette Harris, who works closely with Richmond County schools, said that she has heard complaints about the proposed changes, but teachers tell her they aren't expected to be as drastic as first thought.

Dr. Harris said augmented teachers are preferred, and that these teachers are exposed to more students.

A school funding crunch is not just a Richmond County problem.

Savannah-Chatham County, similar to Richmond County in size and demographics, has cut 29 central office positions. The central office is much "leaner," spokesman Bucky Burnsed said.

Muscogee County, which includes Columbus, implemented across-the-board cuts to offset a million-dollar shortfall.

And Atlanta has turned to the private sector for funding. Atlanta City Public Schools tapped into millions of dollars of additional revenue, including $22.5 million last year from General Electric, to fund a multiyear program.

"Essentially, we have been forced to do that because of state cutbacks," spokesman Joe Manguno said.

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

EARLY INTERVENTION


The purpose of the Early Intervention Program is to provide additional resources to help students who are performing below grade level obtain the necessary academic skills to reach grade-level performance in the shortest possible time.


Richmond County has 1,826 children receiving EIP services for reading, and 2,898 children receive EIP services for math.

Sources: Richmond County Board of Education and Georgia Department of Education


IF YOU GO


WHAT: Richmond County Board of Education budget hearing


WHEN: 1 p.m. Thursday


WHERE: School board central offices, 864 Broad St.

Comments (13) Add comment
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patriciathomas
43
Points
patriciathomas 06/04/08 - 05:01 am
0
0
Another way to help the

Another way to help the student, though not the school so much, is the voucher system that would introduce competition for the state money. It's amazing the improvements that can be made with competition.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 06/04/08 - 06:52 am
0
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Exposed to more students,

Exposed to more students, back when I was in elementary we had a class room full of students, black and white (do the the busing) teachers never complained.

redapples
730
Points
redapples 06/04/08 - 08:21 am
0
0
It's a shame for EIP to be

It's a shame for EIP to be cut. This is a vital program that is helping students at the elem level make the academic gains necessary to pass their CRCT. When the prediction is that students will suffer from these cuts, then everyone should be prepared for the worst - more students attending summer school in our future at younger and younger ages.

giwi
118
Points
giwi 06/04/08 - 08:31 am
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RCBE needs to look at the

RCBE needs to look at the salaries of administrators and cut back on this plus the central office. In many cases, very top heavy. Students need to come first!

noway
201
Points
noway 06/04/08 - 10:05 am
0
0
Quit pushing that stupid

Quit pushing that stupid voucher system. That is the worst idea any politician has ever come up with.

LittleLady
1
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LittleLady 06/04/08 - 10:19 am
0
0
Voucher system would force

Voucher system would force the public school system to put educating kids at the top of priority instead of protecting jobs for administrators and teachers. Budget shortages? Cut nonessential services like school lunch program, after school program and any non-educational programs. Let parents be responsible for feeding and care of their children.

jack
11
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jack 06/04/08 - 11:12 am
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Cut the central office staff,

Cut the central office staff, do NOT cut school lunches (lunch has always ben served at public schools), and cut any non instructive programs. The kids in EIP are the ones that need saving from school rtop out/non-productivity as kids or adults. Vouchers would go a long way in improving education in A/RC. Competition always works, but expect the NEA and other unions to fight it tooth and toe nail.

iteach2
0
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iteach2 06/04/08 - 11:53 am
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The EIP system DOES work,

The EIP system DOES work, when implemented correctly. The EIP students in my classroom last year made huge gains academically. Our school's program is a mixture of collaborative teaching and pullout, and it works for us. The way the program runs is set by the school administration, so if there is a problem, take it to the principal. Don't make a broad statement saying it doesn't work when it does at some schools.

godogs
0
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godogs 06/04/08 - 04:17 pm
0
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Maybe the schools need to

Maybe the schools need to have the parents of EIP students come in and work with these parents some to help them be able to work with their kids at home if the programs will be cut. We can't always depend on the funds to be there for these programs but we should be able to depend on the parents to be willing to work at home with their kids. Put their education on the front burner and sports and other activities on the back burner. Yes those things are important (mine play them based on grades) but education will carry them a lifetime and typically sports is temporary.

tom.katt
0
Points
tom.katt 06/05/08 - 03:24 pm
0
0
I find this very odd.. Why

I find this very odd.. Why would a school system want to cut supports to the kids who most need them? Is that right? Surely they can find some other places to cut expenses. Maybe the Augusta Chronicle can do an article on the school districts line item expenses for the last 5 years, including cost of travel and reimbursements.

tom.katt
0
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tom.katt 06/05/08 - 03:27 pm
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Once again, How can a school

Once again, How can a school system reasonably and logically take away supports to the kids who most need them?

Americans with Disabilities Act people....!

tom.katt
0
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tom.katt 06/05/08 - 03:30 pm
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0
IDEA ACt of 2004! Individual

IDEA ACt of 2004! Individual with Disabilities Education Act and NCLB too

imagateacher2
0
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imagateacher2 06/12/08 - 11:26 pm
0
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Did anyone else take the time

Did anyone else take the time to review the resumes of the individuals seeking Board approval Tuesday night?
One way to cut the budget in Richmond County is to quit rewarding your teachers who "buy" their doctorate degrees. Stop promoting those people and soon they won't get paid for having a doctorate degree when they can't even write a coherent sentence or speak properly. Its a shame when a teacher can pay $25,000 and get a degree in one year. What a joke. With all the teachers and administrators with doctorates in Richmond County, one might think they'd have themselves a think tank and solve some of the problems in Richmond County. Unfortunately for the students and tax payers, a higher degree does not translate into better educated.

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