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NCSS extends deadline for school choice

COVINGTON - Officials at the Newton County School System have scheduled an additional parent informational meeting for guardians of students at Middle Ridge and Porterdale elementary schools and Clements Middle School. The system also has extended the deadline for those schools' parents to turn in a school choice application if they do not want their children attending those schools this fall.

School officials will hold the meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Newton County Board of Education office, located at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington.

"The targeted audience for this meeting will be our new parents who have registered students in the system," said Sherri Viniard, director of public relations for NCSS. "However, any parent who has not attended the three previously held meetings is encouraged to attend."

The schools originally sent out letters July 7 notifying parents and guardians of meetings on July 10 at Porterdale Elementary, July 14 at Clements Middle and July 15 at Middle Ridge Elementary and that they had the option of choosing another school for their child to attend starting in the 2008-09 school year as a result of the schools being included on the state's Needs Improvement list for the upcoming school year.

At the meetings, administrators discussed Adequate Yearly Progress data and supplemental educational services, Viniard said. Schools are placed on the state's Needs Improvement list if they do not make AYP for more than two years in a row and then must offer school choice to another school not on the list, as required under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Last school year, the three schools were on the Needs Improvement list and had to offer a school choice.

According to the letters sent to parents, Middle Ridge Elementary and Clements Middle schools have been included on a list of Georgia schools that did not make AYP for the 2007-08 school year and, therefore, must continue to offer school choice. Porterdale Elementary school is said to have made AYP for the school year but will remain on the Needs Improvement list unless it makes AYP for the 2008-09 school year.

Parents can choose to keep their children in their assigned district schools and allow them to receive supplemental educational services if they do not want to have their children transferred.

NCSS will provide transportation for the students who transfer and will allow the transferred children to stay in that school until they complete the highest grade at that school; however, NCSS isn't required to provide transportation after the end of the school year that the school is no longer on the Needs Improvement list.

Viniard said parents can always request to transfer their students back to their assigned school, but most parents decide to have them remain in the choice school.

Parents of students who decide to transfer them now have until 4 p.m. July 25 to hand deliver to the Title I office at the Newton County BOE a school choice application in order for their students to attend their choice school by the first day of school, Aug. 1, Viniard said. School officials still will offer students who come into the system after July 25 an option to attend a choice school if they enroll in one of the Needs Improvement schools, she said.

School choice applications were sent home to parents and guardians in the letter and also are available at the Board of Education Title I office.

Viniard said the total number of applications received so far are unknown, as they are still being processed. Last year, more than 400 students transferred from their assigned schools at Clements, Porterdale and Middle Ridge to another school of their choice.

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

SideBar: If you go

· What: School Choice Parent Informational Meeting

· Who: New parents and current parents at Porterdale and Middle Ridge Elementary and Celements Middle schools

· When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

· Where: Newton County Board of Education office, 2109 Newton Drive N.E., Covington

· More Information: 770-787-1330 (Newton County Board of Education)