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RCPS to hold meeting with parents about gifted program

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

CONYERS -- Parents of students in the gifted program at Rockdale County Public Schools will get a chance later this month to share their opinions on changes to the program.

Last month, officials at RCPS presented the Rockdale County Board of Education with a plan for Program Challenge to operate differently next school year.

More than 400 gifted elementary school students are bused to Peek's Chapel Elementary School for a few hours each week to take advanced courses with nine teachers. Next school year, officials plan to operate a program at each individual elementary school to save time and money on students being transported to one central location.

After RCPS presented the changes to the school board, several parents of students in the program were upset that they weren't part of the discussion about the changes.

"We were not given any communication about this change, and we were not asked what we think about it or given an explanation as to why they want to do this," said Sherri Alderson, a parent of a third-grader in the program and whose middle school student was once in the program.

As a result and directed by RCPS Superintendent Samuel King, RCPS is planning to hold an information and input session for parents of students in the program at 6 p.m. March 22 at Rockdale Career Academy, which is located at 1064 Culpepper Drive, off Parker Road, in Conyers. As promised, Rich Autry, chief academic officer at RCPS, said Friday that letters will be mailed out on Monday encouraging parents to participate in the meeting.

"We're hoping that we are allowed to give some input as to what is going on in the schools with our children's education," Alderson said Friday. "My concern is that down the road, we have this jewel, the (Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology), and not all the kids will go that route, but we need to prepare those children best as we can."

She hopes to find out if the changes will water down the program and if criteria and standards of the program will be changed to let more students in it.

"We want to understand the reasoning and urgency to do this without any input," Alderson said. "We deeply care about the educational system in this county ... and we want to help the educators."