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80 NCSS pupils to transfer

COVINGTON -- Less than 100 students in the Newton County School System will attend a school other than the one they are assigned to under a public school choice program.

Twenty-five Middle Ridge Elementary School students applied for Public School Choice under the Elementary and Secondary Education Assistance Act, and 55 students from Indian Creek Middle School applied to transfer schools, according to Shelia Thomas, director of federal programs at NCSS.

Nine of the Middle Ridge students will attend Heard-Mixon Elementary School and 16 will attend East Newton Elementary School. All 55 ICMS students will attend Liberty Middle School, she said.

The deadline to apply for the school choice was July 30.

This year's totals are far less than NCSS has seen in the past when it was forced to offer school choices at several of its schools. Transfers have totaled in the hundreds over the past couple of years.

As a result of their preliminary Adequate Yearly Progress data, two Newton County schools were required to offer a school choice this school year under the ESEAA, which was formerly known as the No Child Left Behind Act Public School Choice.

Preliminary results from the 2009-10 AYP report released last month showed that Middle Ridge Elementary and Indian Creek Middle schools did not meet AYP, along with six other NCSS schools.

Since 2001, under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools and school systems across the nation are required to meet a certain set of standards based on scores and attendance and participation on the standardized tests at the elementary and middle school level, as well as other collected data like elementary school absenteeism.

No Child Left Behind also analyzes several subgroups like Students With Disabilities, Economically Disadvantaged and those in various race categories. This school year, Middle Ridge and ICMS did not meet AYP due to the academic performance of their Students With Disabilities group.

Schools that don't meet AYP on a regular basis eventually may be placed on the state's Needs Improvement list, depending on their past performance. Some of those schools also may have to offer school choice if they are on the list for two or more consecutive years, as is the case for Middle Ridge and ICMS.

Middle Ridge Elementary students had the choice to attend East Newton or Heard-Mixon elementary schools, and ICMS students could have chosen Clements or Liberty middle schools. Neither Clements nor Liberty met AYP this past school year based on the preliminary results, but neither are listed as schools in Needs Improvement Status due to meeting it in previous years.

NCSS will provide bus transportation for the students who chose to attend another school but will not provide mileage reimbursement for parents who drive their students to schools, as NCSS has done for some choice schools in the past.

Ficquett and Porterdale elementary schools; Cousins, Liberty and Veterans Memorial middle schools; and Newton High School also did not meet AYP this past school year, according to the preliminary results, but they are not on the Needs Improvement list due to their past performance of making AYP.

NCSS also has to provide school choice under the Quality Basic Education Act, which took effect last year for Georgia students. Parents are able to request a transfer for their child to another school in their assigned school district under certain circumstances.

This school year, officials at NCSS determined that based on projected enrollment, 32 slots were potentially available at three Newton County schools to receive students whose parents wish to transfer them.

Slots include 12 at South Salem Elementary School -- six in third grade and three in both fourth and fifth grades; 12 at Oak Hill Elementary School -- three in both first and fifth grades and six in second grade; and eight at Clements Middle School -- four in each sixth and eighth grades.

Parents will assume all costs and responsibilities associated with transporting the child to and from the selected school, if the request is granted, according to the NCSS website.

Deadline to submit a request form is Friday. It is available on the NCSS website, www.newtoncountyschools.org.