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Middle Ridge not offering school choice next year

COVINGTON — The Newton County School System announced Wednesday that it will not be required to offer Public School Choice for Title I schools next school year.

Public School Choice was required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was formerly known as the No Child Left Behind Act Public School Choice.

Schools were required to offer a school choice after the institution being on the state’s Needs Improvement list for not meeting state standards for two or more consecutive years, and school systems had to offer school choice to other institutions not on the list in their districts. This past year, NCSS was not required to offer transportation for students exercising this choice.

In November, the Georgia Department of Education submitted a waiver requesting flexibility through ten ESEA requirements to the U.S. Department of Education, and, therefore, next school year changes will come to the program for Title I schools. Title I schools are those that have a high population of economically disadvantaged students and receive federal money to assist with them.

As a result, NCSS officials said public school choice will not be available for Middle Ridge Elementary School. Parents participating in choice will have the option for their child to remain at the choice school or return back to the regular zoned school.

Students can remain at the choice school through the highest grade as long as attendance is not an issue; however, the district is not responsible for providing or paying for transportation.

A form for applicable parents was sent home and also is available on the NCSS website, www.newtoncountyschools.org. It must be returned by the Newton County Board of Education by May 18.

Parents still will have the choice transfer option under House Bill 251: The Quality Basic Education Act, which allows students to enroll in a school within the district other than the assigned school if classroom space is available after the students zoned for the requested school have been enrolled. There, parents also assume transportation.

More information about transferring under that law will be announced in July, according to NCSS.

Questions or concerns regarding the school choice program should be directed to RaNae Fendley, director of Student Services, at 770-787-1330, ext. 1212, or at fendley.ranae@newton.k12.ga.us.