By Alex Pace

News-Journal Reporter

Barrow County saw its highest graduation rate last year and topped the state average. The Barrow County Board of Education received an update on its 2016 four-year cohort graduation rate at its Tuesday meeting.

The Barrow County School System graduation rate increased to 83.9 percent for the 2016 school year, up from 79.1 percent from the 2015 school year. The district was also almost 5 percent higher than the state average (79.2 percent).

Apalachee High School had a 2 percent dip in its graduation rate, down to 84.6 percent. Winder-Barrow High School saw a 3.3 percent increase, up to 87.9 percent.

WBHS saw an increase among all subgroups (Asian, black, Hispanic, white, economically disadvantaged and special education). AHS had a slight dip in its graduation rate for Asian and black students.

BOE member Garey H. Huff noted the large improvements in special education grad rates throughout the district.

AHS has doubled its special education graduation rate since 2011. WBHS’s rate is more than four times higher than in 2011.

The district is also working to lower the “achievement gap” between the different subgroups. Asian students had the highest average at both schools, while black students had the lowest rate of the subgroups (excluding special education).

OTHER BUSINESS

Also at its meeting, the BOE:

•recognized WBHS as clean school of the month.

•recognized schools with the highest attendance for October including: students, Statham and Haymon-Morris; staff, Statham and Alternative Education Program; transportation, County Line; and nutrition, Sims Academy.

•recognized several of its middle school teachers who received “Bright Ideas” grants from Jackson EMC including Hannah Croy and Elizabeth Moore, Westside; Dee Debold, Westside; Leah Jordan, Russell; Tina Kinchen, Westside; Melissa Miller, Haymon-Morris; Christina Mooris, Westside; Holly Shepherd, Bear Creek; and Aprille Williams, Russell.

•learned all the school cafeterias received a perfect score by the health department.

•received an update on its finances. Education Local Option Sales Tax receipts were up to $818,300 last month. The district’s total fund balance totaled $3.7 million at the end of October. The district is waiting to receive property tax revenues.

•learned the groundbreaking for the amphitheater is Thursday, Nov. 17, at 5 p.m.

•approved its Internet Safety and Acceptable use policy.

•approved a bid from Athens Janitor Supply Company for $495,600 (equipment) and $125,500 (supplies). The district had to purchase custodial equipment since it is opting to use a staffing company to clean its buildings. The district has previously been using a cleaning company which provided its own equipment and supplies.

•approved two policies to sit for 30 days for public comment including: student records and board code of ethics revisions.

•approved the purchase of Epson interactive projectors from low bidder, TechOptics in Winder, totaling $38,000.

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