The Commerce News
January 26, 2000
School Board Policy Worth Watching
The Jefferson Board of
Education has adopted a policy that the Commerce Board of Education
should consider copying.
The Jefferson board, as a means of controlling school enrollment,
has put into place a policy in which non-resident students must
make application to attend the Jefferson schools. Under the policy,
such students may be allowed to attend the city school system
if they are students in good standing with the school they previously
attended. The school system has the option of establishing enrollment
limits in all grades, classes and programs, and it reserves the
right to levy a tuition to non-resident students. It also enables
the school system to refuse to accept non-resident students who
are disciplinary or academic problems.
The system is in a growth spurt. It plans a bond referendum to
build a new school, a school made necessary, in part, by non-resident
student enrollment. Its rapid growth is expected to continue,
which is the reason for the new policy.
Commerce should watch how this policy works and be ready to implement
a similar policy, because it too is facing rapid growth. At present,
47 percent of enrollment in the city school system is from outside
the district, and the board of education is considering the need
for a new school to divide grades pre-K to six into a primary
school and an elementary school.
Gov. Roy Barnes proposes school "choice" throughout
Georgia, which could render the policy moot. But school officials
all over Georgia will try to make sure local tax dollars follow
students if such a system is implemented. Until that happens,
both Commerce and Jefferson systems may have to limit their growth.
Jackson County has already faced the issue; it does not allow
students from outside its district to attend, except under rare
Jefferson's policy gives its board of education flexibility in
accepting non-resident students. Commerce will need that flexibility
as well. Its resident enrollment seems likely to grow rapidly
in the next two years, based just on housing developments proposed
inside the city limits. The elementary school is already crowded,
and capacity is limited at both of the other schools. The time
is not far away when the Commerce Board of Education will need
a means by which it can control enrollment. Taxpayers here have
generally been supportive of funding schools, but they're not
likely to be enthusiastic about building new schools to accommodate
children whose parents pay property taxes somewhere else.
Before the Commerce School System builds another building, it
should look closely at limiting non-resident enrollment. The
time is coming when the city system will not be able to afford
to accept every non-resident who seeks admission.
In the wake of last weekend's storm, E911 director David Murphy
reminds citizens that the 911 line is for emergencies only. Don't
call 911, he says, to find out if roads are ice-free or schools
That's good advice, but citizens in Commerce, perhaps everywhere
else in the county, are being told that the 911 line is for any
call to talk to an officer.
"If you need an officer, call 911," Commerce police
tell citizens here. That's whether you're reporting a burglar
in the house, or discover vandalism. The latter is hardly an
emergency, but because an officer is required, we're told to
Let's get this figured out. Is 911 for emergency calls only?
Or do we call 911 to get non-emergency service as well? So far,
we're getting mixed signals.
The Commerce News
January 26, 2000
They're Working Up A
Storm In A Weather Crisis
What is being billed as "Ice Storm
2000" didn't amount to much in the Commerce area, a minor
inconvenience that was over by Sunday morning for all practical
Oh, it was something Saturday afternoon. As the snow was followed
by enough sleet to make the roads slippery, my scanner crackled
with reports of accidents. There were so many that the law enforcement
people could not keep up with them, but I heard none that seemed
Sunday morning it was all over. The sleet created some interesting
landscapes and caused a few trees and limbs to fall down, but
this area once again largely escaped a storm that apparently
wreaked havoc as far south as Oglethorpe and Oconee counties.
I drove around Commerce first. And the first thing I noticed
was that all the major thoroughfares were clear and had gravel,
courtesy of the Jackson County Road Department and the Georgia
Department of Transportation. I may be mistaken, but it looked
like Georgia 98 to Maysville had even been scraped.
I was looking for downed trees in Commerce, and I'm sure there
were plenty, other than the poplar that fell across my best blueberry
bush in the back yard. But when I found the city electric crew,
it was cutting sagging limbs off power lines. Recent attention
to its rights of way paid off, I suspect, in very few problems.
There may have been individual outages, but the power remained
on for the vast majority of us.
I drove to Maysville, then cut west on Deadwyler Road and Marlow
Road. Most of what I heard on the scanner appeared to be coming
from Banks County, which was severely hit. I took Diamond Hill
Road back to Georgia 82, went into Jefferson, then out the Brockton
Road, where I found the Jefferson Fire Department getting ready
to remove a tree that had fallen onto a power line.
I heard other firemen reporting cases of trees over roads and
power lines, but again, nothing serious. I drove on to Cabin
Creek Road, where I found neighbors removing a tree that partially
blocked the road, crossed U.S. 441, cut over to Georgia 334 and
came back to Commerce. It was a nice drive on good roads.
I have a lot to say sometimes about our governments, but it is
at times like this when they shine most brightly. Commerce crews
were out early, with not so much to do because of preventive
measures already accomplished. They cut back limbs that sagged
onto power lines, but had nowhere near the problems you'd normally
expect from an ice storm. The county road crews and the DOT had
been out with gravel and sand to keep the roads safe. The police,
sheriff's department, firemen and other emergency personnel found
and cut away downed trees before most of us knew they were there.
While we slept, men and women were looking out for our safety.
We don't think of our firemen as being responsible for tree removal
in winter storms, but they do it, just as they do anything else
that needs to be done when a crisis occurs. We don't picture
our county road crews working at night, but they do when it's
necessary. And we like to make fun of state highway workers,
but when a storm threatens, they're out there for us.
Thanks, guys. I'm impressed.