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State honors Long County schools
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Georgia Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Barge recently recognized state public schools that attained Title 1 Distinguished School status this year. Long County’s Walker Middle and Smiley Elementary schools were among those honored.  
Walker earned Title 1 status for the fourth consecutive year and Smiley has earned it for six years.   
According to Barge, to attain Title 1 status, schools must meet Adequate Yearly Progress guidelines under the No Child Left Behind legislation for at least three consecutive years.
In addition to their recognition awards, the schools will receive $742 each from the state.
“We have made AYP for six consecutive years now, and from our third year on, we’ve been recognized as a Title 1 Distinguished School. This year, we earned a silver award from the Department of Education in students’ greatest gains.  Last year, our goal at Walker was not to just make AYP, but to make EYP, or exceptional yearly progress. Looks like we met our goal. Thanks goes out to our excellent teachers, staff and wonderful students,” WMS principal Dr. Vicky Wells said.
Long County Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters also was pleased with the schools’ achievements.
“Excellent achievement, especially in math because the standard increased,” he said. “Both SES and WMS are very focused and operate as a very efficient machine from the top down. I’m very proud of them.”
In other Long County school news, the Education Special Local Option Sales Tax committee was formed last week. The panel had its first meeting at the board office to discuss how they would spread the word about March’s ESPLOST election.  The group decided to have each member pass out pamphlets about ESPLOST and talk to as many community members as they could.
According to the pamphlet, the ESPLOST referendum is not a tax increase. It is a continuation of the current 1 percent sales tax, which is already being assessed.  The flier also says the continuation of ESPLOST is needed to fund the proposed new high school and continue renovations to current educational buildings.
At the board of education’s Monday meeting, member Emma Strickland said she thinks ESPLOST should continue, but people in the community need to understand that revenue raised from the sales tax can only fund building projects. It cannot be used for other purposes, such as creating jobs and salaries.
“As far as I am concerned, it is the only fair tax out there because with it, everyone pays,” Strickland said.
Waters said early voting on the referendum began Tuesday and will run at the Long County Courthouse through March 11. Voters will decide March 15 whether to continue ESPLOST.
The BoE also re-elected Dempsey Golden as chairman and Florence Baggs as the vice chairwoman.


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