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Mere days left in summer for students

COVINGTON -- About 20,000 students will start the new school year in the Newton County School System next week.

After a two-month long summer break, students, teachers and other school staff members are getting ready this week for the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, which begins Aug. 6.

NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews is "eagerly anticipating the educational opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for (NCSS) in these changing times," he said in an open letter. "For one thing is constant: Our community's children and their families are counting on us to provide a first-class education, even 'a world class' education given the global marketplace of ideas, products and services in which Newton graduates will compete. They, and we, realize that 'no community is better than its public schools.'"

New teacher orientation will be held Monday, and all teachers and instructional staff members will report to schools on Tuesday. Meetings for certain groups of teachers, professional workshops and other programs also will be held at the beginning of the week.

Open houses are scheduled for Aug. 5 -- elementary schools will open from 1 to 3 p.m. and secondary schools will open from 2 to 4 p.m. Students may get to meet their teachers, get class schedules and tour their schools, and parents may get bus routes, sign up for PTO and other volunteer opportunities, drop off school supplies, prepay for meal accounts and handle other necessary items.

Parents or guardians can register their students at their child's zoned school.

They must bring to registration their photo ID and, if necessary, proof of custody or guardianship if the birth parent is not registering the student. They also must bring a certified copy of the student's birth certificate and the Social Security card.

Additionally, they must bring two health forms -- Form 3231, the Georgia Certificate of Immunization, and Form 3300, the Georgia Certificate of Eye, Ear and Dental Examination -- for students entering a Georgia public school for the first time.

Parents also must provide a current proof of residency, which includes a lease, deed, signed closing statement or non-contingent sales contract along with at least one utility bill.

If applicable, parents must supply withdrawal forms or a final report card from the student's previous school and, for students entering seventh through 12th grades, a certified copy of the student's discipline report or a letter from the school stating that the child has no discipline record. For students enrolling in fourth, sixth and ninth grades, parents also must provide their proof of passing the reading and math portions of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

For students with disabilities, the registering parent needs to bring in a copy of their Individualized Educational Program.

This school year, students will get extended breaks over Thanksgiving, at the end of December, in mid-February and at the beginning of April, as well as smaller breaks spread throughout the school year. The 2010-11 school year ends on May 26.

More information about registration, school supplies, open houses, calendars and other items is available at the student's assigned school, at the Newton County Board of Education building at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington and on the NCSS website, www.newtoncountyschools.org, which links to individual school websites.