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May 7, 2008

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BOE looks at tough choices for RES
A regional program once hailed as helping non-traditional students earn a high school diploma may be closed — if it doesn’t get enough funding from the community.
The Regional Evening School could be closed due to a lack of support, said Shannon Adams, superintendent of the Jackson County School System. Adams told the Jackson County Board of Education at a “retreat” last week that an advisory committee is reviewing the feasibility of financing and operating the RES.
Adams estimated that the Jackson County School System provided $300,000 last year to the RES, which had about eight graduates. The RES is a program offered at the Gordon Street Center that helps students earn a high school diploma who may not otherwise do so.
About a decade ago, a consortium of school leaders established the RES to serve non-traditional students among school systems in Jackson County, Jefferson, Commerce, Banks County and Barrow County. The school systems in the consortium also provided funds to support the RES.
However, since the RES’s “heyday” about eight years ago, the other school systems in the consortium have stopped funding the RES and have established their own similar programs, Adams said.
“It’s clear there is no interest in the consortium,” he said.
A task force to review the RES’s fate has been meeting since September. Adams said the next step for the RES task force is to speak to community groups about the program.
Adams said in order for the RES to thrive again, it needs either the consortium schools to contribute to the program or other major financial support from the community.
“We’ve given it every conceivable opportunity to succeed,” Adams said of the RES.
He later asked the board to commit to another year to the RES, given that the Gordon Street Center will have a new principal, Joann Zupsic, next school year. Adams also favored a proposal to make a part-time assistant principal’s position at the Gordon Street Center into a full-time job to improve the RES’s chances of survival.
Meanwhile, the Jackson County School System is considering establishing a public charter school career academy that would be a partnership with Lanier Technical College. The school system is applying for a $5,000-10,000 grant to fund the feasibility of establishing a career academy.
Adams cautioned that the career academy should not be viewed in competition of the RES and that the programs could compliment each other.


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