BOE to vote on liberal arts academy

COVINGTON - Newton County students might soon have an opportunity that's never been offered locally.

Newton High School officials and the Newton County School System are recommending that the Newton County Board of Education approve the Academy of Liberal Arts, a new rigorous educational program at Newton High School that provides a partnership with Oxford College and encourages community service and parent involvement.

At Tuesday night's BOE work session, Dr. Linda Hayden, associate superintendent for instruction at NCSS, presented a plan that was developed by school personnel and the school council to the school board for development of the new program, set up as a "school within a school."

Students will take advanced courses and academic electives and commit to community service hours, in addition to being involved at Oxford College, as part of the program.

"The Academy of Liberal Arts at Newton High School will serve as a model for effective collaboration between public high schools and private post-secondary schools," according to the proposal. "College preparation has to be a critical component of any high school improvement effort. ALANHS will provide a structure for students to take courses specifically designed to prepare them for the rigor demonstrated at the collegiate level."

According to the proposal, eligible students are:

· Newton County residents;

· those residing in the Newton High School attendance zone or who are outside of the zone who could provide their own transportation;

· those participating in Quest with an overall average of 85; an incoming ninth-grader with an overall average of 90; or those currently enrolled at NHS with an overall average of 90 with at least an 85 average in all advanced, Quest and/or Advanced Placement courses; and

· students who have teacher recommendations regarding academic performances in advanced courses.

The students enrolled in the program will choose an area of concentration, such as language arts, science, math, foreign language, leadership or fine arts, and will take a certain number of courses in various advanced subject areas from ninth through 12th grades. The students also must participate in at least 30 community service hours each academic year.

Through the partnership with Oxford College, the students would be allowed to use the Oxford College library and computer labs and can be partnered with Oxford professors as mentors, in addition to other opportunities.

NHS also will develop an academic booster club for parents, who will participate in fundraising and volunteer activities and communicate new ideas.

If approved by the school board at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, the school plans to hold parent information meetings at the school on March 23 and April 13. Applications to the program would be due May 1 in order to notify students by May 22. A summer institute for accepted students would be held in June and for teachers in July, according to a timeline provided to the board.

The vote will be at the regular meeting at the Newton County BOE building, 2109 Newton Drive.

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

SideBar: If you go

What: Newton County Board of Education meeting

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Newton County BOE, 2109 Newton Drive, Covington

n More Information: www.newtoncountyschools.org