a strong offense and timely defense, the Commerce Tiger football
team completed regular season play undefeated Friday night, with
a 42-32 win over sixth-ranked Buford that gave the Tigers the
Region 8A title. The Tigers have remained the number one team
in Class A Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll through all 10 games,
and will begin the quest for their second state football title
Friday night hosting Armuchee. Above, linebacker Russ Brown tackles
the Buford quarterback, who is also under pressure from defensive
lineman Jonathon Martin (53).
/ See Region 8A Playoff
3 City Schools In Top Half
According to the Georgia Public Policy
Foundation rankings of public schools released last week, the
three schools in Commerce all rank in the upper half or better
among the state's public schools.
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation issued its fourth annual
set of "Report Cards" for elementary, middle and high
schools, ranking each according to formulas based on test scores.
The report found Commerce High School to rank 89th among 319
high schools; Commerce Middle School to rank 102nd out of 410
middle schools; and Commerce Elementary School to rank 454th
out of 1,065 elementary schools in Georgia.
The measure of achievement for high school students was the combined
math and English scores on the Georgia High School Graduation
test. Supplemental criteria were utilized to break any ties,
including the percent of students passing the math and English
sections of the GHSGT, the percentage of students above the "Pass
Plus" benchmark on the GHSGT, the average SAT score for
college prep students and the school's graduation rate.
Commerce High School ranked 16th in North Georgia and 89th in
the state. Its "achievement score," which represents
the average score on the math and English Language Arts sections
of the GHSGT, was 539.
Jefferson, with a 542.5 achievement score, was the highest ranking
local high school. It ranked sixth in Northeast Georgia and 60th
in the state.
Madison County High School was ranked 15th in the area and 82nd
in the state, Jackson County Comprehensive High School ranked
21st in the area and 113th in Georgia, and Banks County ranked
28th in the area and 170th statewide.
Middle school rankings were based on eighth grade scores in the
reading comprehension and math sections of the 1999 Iowa Test
of Basic Skills. If schools had identical test averages, tie-breaking
criteria included the percentage of eighth grade students scoring
above the bottom quarter of national scores, the percent scoring
above the national average, the percent scoring in the top quarter
and the poverty rate.
With an average percentile score of 59, Commerce Middle School
ranked 13th in Northeast Georgia and 102nd in the state.
Jefferson Middle School was tops in the area, ranked seventh,
and 64th in the state. West Jackson Middle ranked 17th in the
area and 119th in Georgia, Banks County Middle was 20th in the
area and 133rd in Georgia and East Jackson Middle ranked 30th
in the area and 180th statewide.
For the purpose of ranking, only 1999 ITBS scores in reading
comprehension and math among fifth graders were used. Tie-breaking
criteria were the same as used for ranking middle schools.
Commerce Elementary School ranked 63rd out of 104 elementary
schools in Northeast Georgia and 454th statewide.
Other school rankings by area and statewide included North Jackson,
28 and 245; Jackson County, 46 and 361; Ila, 55 and 428; Danielsville,
63 and 462; Banks County, 68 and 464; Jefferson, 71 and 487;
South Jackson, 75 and 505; and Benton, 88 and 653.
To Fight Commerce Zoning Order
Providence Academy has been ordered to move "immediately"
its portable classroom, but director Ray Morris has no plans
to contact a mobile home moving company just yet.
Morris received a certified letter from City Clerk Shirley Willis
last week ordering that the structure be moved. The letter came
after the Commerce City Council voted Nov. 8 to deny the Christian
school's application for the conditional use permit required
to keep the mobile classroom on the campus, which is located
between Commerce Elementary School and Commerce High School.
At the same meeting, the city council approved a CUP application
that allows all three of the city schools to have mobile classrooms.
Morris says the city council's action was both wrong and, probably,
illegal, and he has sought legal counsel.
"I've sent a description of the situation to the American
Center for Law and Justice. You might say, it's the Christian
version of the ACLU," Morris said. "The way I see it
is we were treated differently than the public schools were.
I don't think it should have been that way. I believe it was
an illegal decision, and that it would be wise for the city to
reconsider the decision it made. This is a situation where the
law was applied in a discriminatory fashion."
Morris is not alone. David Lanphear, who is in charge of land
use matters for the city, was surprised at the city council decision
and says there is "no way they can force them to move"
the classroom. City Manager Clarence Bryant has expressed the
opinion that the council vote could result in the city being
But while Providence Academy is not making arrangements to move
the trailer, neither is it planning to sue.
"We're not that kind of people," Morris said. "Right
now, we're exploring our options. Hopefully, we will be able
to resolve this through an appeal. If we have to go to court,
we will. We don't like to do that. We wouldn't jump at the chance
to do that, but we would if it were necessary."
The Christian school brought in the mobile classroom a year ago
and it serves as the classroom for high school students, although
some of the junior high students also use it. The school has
31 students and six classrooms.
The controversy began when Doug Newcomer, a member of the Commerce
Planning Commission, made a motion to deny the school's request.
Newcomer wanted to look at the site plan and read the minutes
from a year earlier when the school applied for the original
CUP. He said his understanding was that the school had promised
to remove the structure after it built a four-classroom building.
That building has been completed.
Morris responds: "Our site plan also provided for an addition
to our original building that would provide space for all our
students. But we don't have a lot of money and are not in a position
to be able to build at this time," he said.
Morris said he has talked with Mayor Charles Hardy about the
"I told him we would prefer to do whatever is necessary
to avoid getting a lawyer, suing or doing any legal threatening,
but I did tell him we would do whatever we had to do to see that
the law was enforced properly. The mayor was very cordial and
said he understood."
In addition, he said Mrs. Willis is researching the city zoning
ordinance to see if there is an appeal mechanism.
"It was my understanding that the city approved trailers
for the public schools because they needed them," Morris
said. "The right thing to do is to approve ours, because
we need it too. This really puts us in a difficult situation."
Morris also believes the issue is being driven by behind-the-scenes
pressure from people who are either opposed to the school's location
or opposed to the school in general.
"If they would take the time to talk to us, we might be
able to come to a meeting of the minds about things," he
said. "But they apparently don't want to take the time to
talk to us."
Tax Rate At Last Year's Rate
MAYSVILLE -- The Mays-ville City Council plans to hold its tax
millage rate at 1.5 mills this year, but because of a growing
tax digest, the city will net over $9,500 in additional property
tax income, a 50 percent increase.
The city plans to take in $29,000 from property taxes this year,
up from $19,500 last year.
edition for more on the following stories:
Jackson County Community Outreach, a group that grew out of a
community's desire to tackle drug problems, honored five area
citizens Saturday as it celebrated its second year of service.
Not The Place
The mayor of Pendergrass tried to bring his town's legal controversies
into a meeting designed to settle water and sewerage territories
under the auspices of House Bill 489.
The Commerce Planning Commission meets Monday night at 7:00.
On its agenda will be preliminary site plans for a subdivision
and a mobile home park.
The city of Commerce issued permits for more than $1 million
in new construction during September and October.
Man Shot Twice
A Commerce man is expected to make a full recovery after being
shot twice in the neck with a small caliber handgun early Saturday
morning during an apparent armed robbery attempt in Commerce.
Commerce Police Chief george Grimes says that his department
has investigated more than $17,000 worth of check forgeries this
An analysis of the Jackson County tax digest reveals what many
taxpayers have long suspected that the percentage of taxes
paid by homeowners is rising.
First To Benefit
Residents of the Plainview area of Jackson County are expected
to be the first to benefit from the special purpose local option
sales tax. Plans are already under way to run county water there.