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NCSS probes popularity of
theme schools

COVINGTON - The Newton County School System is looking into parents' interest in parental involvement theme schools for the county.

"A parental involvement theme school is a school in which parent involvement is at the forefront of the expectations for enhancing student achievement," according to an NCSS survey that was sent to parents. "Parents would be required to become involved in the education of their children and provide a minimum number of volunteer hours."

The school system sent out more than 10,500 general interest surveys with elementary and middle school students from Nov. 7 to 13 "in an attempt to quickly ascertain how many parents would be interested," said Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration.

"It was very unscientific," Robertson said of the survey. "There's been some discussion in the

community, so we thought, 'Is there really any interest?'"

The school system received the surveys back on Nov. 16 or later.

On Dec. 11, the school system reported that of a possible 7,917 parent surveys sent out through current prekindergarten through fourth-grade students, 2,004 surveys - or 25 percent - were returned to the school system.

Thirty-seven percent, or 737 surveys, checked "No, I am not interested in committing to the requirements of a parental involvement theme school."

More than 1,250 survey respondents checked that they would be interested in a parental involvement theme school - 33 percent checked that they would want the school to be the child's home attendance school; 30 percent checked that they didn't mind the location of the school.

"These results simply tell us that there is an interest in parent involvement theme schools at the elementary level," Robertson said.

At the middle school level, 377 surveys of the 2,912 sent home with sixth- and seventh-grade students were returned.

Forty-three percent of those returned, or 163 surveys, indicated that the respondents weren't interested in the theme school; 214 said they were interested.

"The middle school results tell us that many of them did not get home," Robertson said.

Almost 100 fifth-grade parents checked that they were interested in a middle theme school, regardless of the location in the county.

Robertson said no action has been taken by the school system and she doesn't know if there ever will be any action regarding the theme schools.

"Currently, it is just being studied," she said. "We are just looking at everything and seeing what our options may be."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: AT A GLANCE

Elementary School Survey Results:

' 737 - No, I am not interested in committing to the requirements of a parental involvement theme school.

' 656 - Yes, I am interested in committing to the requirements of a parental involvement theme school only if my child's home attendance school becomes the theme school.

' 611 - Yes, I am interested in committing to the requirements of a parental involvement theme school regardless of its location in the county.

' Check one of the following relative to transportation:

' 346 - I could provide transportation for my child.

' 265 - I would need transportation for my child.

Middle School Survey Results:

' 163 - No, I am not interested in committing to the requirements of a parental involvement theme school.

' 106 - Yes, I am interested in committing to the requirements of a parental involvement theme school only if my child's home attendance school becomes the theme school.

' 108 - Yes, I am interested in committing to the requirements of a parental involvement theme school regardless of its location in the county.*

' Check one of the following relative to transportation:

' 52 - I could provide transportation for my child.

' 56 - I would need transportation for my child.

*In addition, surveys from fifth-grade parents reported a total of 92 students that were interested in a middle theme school regardless of the location.

Source: Newton County School System