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BoE head says schools' problems being addressed

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POSTED: September 27, 2007 5:03 a.m.
Dwindling graduation rates, alarming dropout trends, gang activity and student malnutrition mainly account for Liberty’s scholastic slump, however, school officials are working on strategies to mend these pitfalls.
Lily Baker, chairwoman of the board of education, spoke to the Hinesville Rotary Club Tuesday, and applied statistical information to relevant issues in order to outline the current and future plans for improvement.
Five of the 14 county schools (including the Bradwell Institute and LCHS) did not make adequate yearly progress, the local graduation rate is only about 50 percent and the graduation rate of the local high schools is dipping, Baker said.
When comparing 2006 to 2007, Bradwell’s graduation rate fell dramatically from 79.1 to 66.7 percent, and Liberty County’s rate dropped from 75.4 to 73.3 percent, Baker said.
For every 100 high school students here, 79 make it to 10th grade, 67 progress to 11th and only 58 students move on to 12th, Baker noted.
“(This school system) is not the worst in the nation, it’s not the worst in the state. Can it be better? Yes,” Baker said. “There’s always room for improvement and we’re working toward that. Educating our youth is the most important job in our society.”
In terms of scholastic achievement though, Baker added that the county’s high schools fall just below the state average, and well below the national average.
And while 52.7 percent of the county’s 10,000 students receive either free or discounted breakfasts and lunches, malnutrition has become a major concern, she said.
“A well fed child is an alert and active learner, and it’s a losing battle for a teacher when a child comes in looking weak and hungry,” Baker said.
At this point, Baker put some of the responsibility on the parents of students who do not properly feed, counsel or supervise their children, and gang activity is more likely to stem from this neglect.
With that said, Baker then focused on the progressive initiatives, which have been or soon will be initiated in Liberty’s schools.
While talking to a collection of school administrators and principles, Baker said the elementary uniform policy has shown encouraging signs of success. And, she said, Bradwell and LCHS will implement a uniform policy next year.
To improve test scores and graduation rates, Baker said, “The teachers are expanding programs for all of our children, they are reorganizing instruction time to properly accommodate all of our students, and after-school tutoring is now available for all of our students,” she said. “...It can be a better system, and our work has never been more urgent than it is today.”
 

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