News from Madison County...

 April 19, 2000


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OPINIONS
Civil War was not based on slavery issue
A battle is under way in the Southern states by those who would deny a region the right to honor its history and culture.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Qualifying ahead for county offices
Qualifying for several Banks County offices will be held from 9 a.m. on Monday, April 24, through noon on Friday, April 28.

Lula council opposed to railroad request on bridge
Lula city council members are opposed to requests by Norfolk Southern Railway that it be permitted to demolish the Lula overhead wooden bridge.


News from...
JACKSON COUNTY
Grant To Provide Computers To Four Jackson Libraries
The world's richest man has probably never heard of Jackson County, but each of the county's four public libraries will get more than $16,000 worth of computer equipment from his foundation.

Trio in robbery, stabbing of cab driver plead guilty during trial
Judge calls actions a 'definition of violence'
A Jackson County judge called the attack on a Gainesville taxi cab driver "the very definition of violence" Tuesday morning when three people were sentenced in the attack after changing their pleas to guilty.

Qualifying For County Elections Is Next Week
JEFFERSON -- It's put up or shut up time for Jackson County residents seeking political office.

Duke-Weeks groundbreaking planned Monday
Groundbreaking ceremonies will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, at the site for the first Duke-Weeks development in Braselton.


SPORTS
Madison Co. Major League highlights
Highlights from the past week of Madison County Major League action...

Lady Raiders capture region doubles crown for third straight year
There were different players on the doubles court for Madison County this year, but the result was the same - a first-place showing.


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DANCING THE SHAG

Debra Lassiter (L) leads some of her "perfectly polished" students in practicing the shag. The group is preparing for their Spring Formal at Madison County Middle School on April 29.
Photo by Charles Richards

EDUCATION

New MCHS principal named
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Bob Rhinehart is Madison County High School's new principal.
Rhinehart, who is currently the transportation director of the Pickens County school system, met with the Madison County Board of Education Monday night.
The new principal has had a long career in education, not only in administration, but also as a coach and teacher.
Rhinehart began his career at Dade County in the 1970s. He taught social studies and coached football, basketball and baseball there for three years, before a three-year stint at Calhoun High School, where he again taught and coached football and baseball. He moved to Jefferson for two years in 1980-1981, where he coached tennis and served as the football team's offensive coordinator. Rhinehart served as athletic director and football coach at Lumpkin County between 1982-1985. He was then a teacher and coach at Cartersville High School from 1985-1989. Next, he moved to Cass High School, where he served as assistant principal between 1990-1991. He was principal of Adairsville High School between 1992-1995, before taking his most recent job in Pickens County.
Rhinehart said he feels Madison County is a top-notch school system.
"Most of the systems I've worked in are secondary in potential to what Madison County's got," said Rhinehart, who has a master's degree in education from North Georgia College and a specialist degree, or six-year degree, from Jacksonville State. "There's a deep commitment in this community for excellence."
Rhinehart said he loves kids and his primary focus will be helping his students. He said serving as an educator is "the best profession I'd want to be associated with."
"It certainly will be a challenging job," said Rhinehart of his new duty. "But I'm extremely pleased to have the opportunity to be here."


Public meeting held on charter school proposal
BY MARGIE RICHARDS
About 15 citizens, including two school board members, came out for the first of four public meetings to be held around the county on a proposed charter high school for Madison County.
The meeting, which was held at Ila Restaurant, was designed by steering committee members Michael McCord and George Thomas to explain the concept of a charter school and field questions.
Thomas and McCord both have extensive experience in education, Thomas at the University of Georgia, where he taught for a number of years, and McCord at Athens Tech, where he was head of the school's community outreach program until his retirement. Thomas is also an author and lecturer on education issues.
The pair was awarded a $5,000 grant last fall by the department of education to explore the possibility of a charter school in the county, with one of the main goals being to help reduce the dropout rate. Their goal is to begin classes in the fall of 2001.
"It (the project) was funded on the merits of a design we proposed and is not an initiative of the Madison County school system," McCord said.
Charter public schools in Georgia are public, not private or "alternative" schools that operate under agreements, called charters, with their local school boards and the approval of the Georgia Department of Education.
There are currently 37 charter schools in Georgia, all opened since 1998 when the state legislature approved them, but none in northeast Georgia. Across the nation, there are approximately 31 states that currently allow some type of charter schools since the concept began in 1995, with about 1,500 in operation.
Oglethorpe and Clarke counties are also looking into charter schools, McCord said.
There are two types of charter schools: conversion, which were formerly private or public school systems, and start-ups, which are in addition to an existing public school system.
The proposed school in Madison County would be the latter, and if successful, would be only the third in the state.
A unique and important feature of the charter school is its local governing board, separate from the regular school board, which must consist of a majority of parents of enrolled students, as well as community and business leaders who oversee the curriculum and operation of the school.
"This is not going to be an easy thing and we don't want to paint a rosy picture," Thomas said. "We want to stay with this until it's up and running, until local folks take it over."
The charter, individualized for each school, gives flexibility and the freedom to innovative curriculum, instructional methods and materials, according to McCord.
The pair envision the charter school using two classrooms in Madison County High School, which would begin with approximately 40 high school freshmen and sophomores.
"We're great believers in public education; we're just trying to add to it," Thomas noted.
They also noted that a charter school would not be "a separate tax issue" for the county.
"The state department of education will fund an implementation grant (for start-up costs and materials) once a charter school is accepted in Madison County," McCord said, adding that such a grant could be as much as $80,000 based on grants received by other counties with charter schools.
The first step is to form a steering committee to establish a charter and then submit it to the local board of education for approval.
Educational funds for the students enrolled in a charter school come from local funds (FTE) set aside already for their public education.
Thomas said it was the goal of the school to increase the number of students that stay in school, therefore ultimately increasing the amount of revenue that stays in the county to educate those students that would have otherwise dropped out.
Thomas said that 150 students dropped out of school in Madison County last year.
"This is the worst thing that we've got in our county and we've got to do something about it," audience member Doyle Beatenbough said. He questioned the effectiveness of the school in starting with such a small number of students.
McCord said it was their hope that the school program would expand as time went by.
"It would be the local charter board's decision to up enrollment or expand the program from two to four years," he said. "Components could be added (to the school) as parents see fit to address the special needs of a particular community."
"We're coming here with an opportunity," McCord said, adding that it was up to the community as to whether a charter school is needed or wanted.
Both Thomas and McCord admitted that their original concept was to target those students that were potential dropouts or who were having problems in the traditional classroom setting.
"But by state law (for charter schools) we can't do that," McCord said. "There has to be an open enrollment period."
Enrollment into the school would be by application during the open enrollment period and students would be chosen by lottery if there are more applications than slots for students. The remainder could then be placed on a waiting list.
Another feature of the school would be regular student-parent-teacher conferences or "student behavior reviews" in which all parties contribute equally.
This helps to continue to develop an educational program for each child individually.
"We need support in Madison County and for (citizens) to commit to be a part of a steering committee," McCord said.
Two more meetings are scheduled: Wednesday, April 26 at 7 p.m. at the Madison County Library and Saturday, May 2 at 7 p.m. at Camp Kiwanis.


 
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ELECTION

Qualifying set for next week
It's time for local candidates to throw their hat in the ring.
Qualifying for county offices will be from 9 a.m. Monday, April 24, to noon Friday, April 28.
Offices up for grabs include the chairman of the board of commissioners, all five posts at the commissioners' table, probate judge, clerk of court, tax commissioner, sheriff, coroner, state representative, state senator, district attorney and three seats on the county school board.
Candidates will qualify with their local party.
For information on qualifying as a Democrat, call county Democratic secretary Mrs. John Arndt at 795-2350 or party vice-chairman Howard Maxwell at 245-6025.
To qualify as a Republican, call chairman Paul Boatwright at 543-5964 or secretary Hank Barnham at 613-5914.
Qualifying fees are as follows: Clerk of Superior Court, $1,174; Probate Judge, $1,188; Sheriff, $1,384; Tax commissioner, $990; Coroner, $119; BOC chairman, $1,384; Commissioners - $216; BOE posts, $40.50.