Tuesday, March 20, 2012

State Board of Education Recommends Suspension of Miller County Board of Education

The State Board of Education today voted unanimously to recommend to the Governor suspension with pay of the Miller County Board of Education. The State Board conducted a hearing pursuant to O.C.G.A. 20-2-73, relating to recommendations for potential suspension of local boards of education for governance related issues. Attached is a copy of the Georgia code section for reference.

The following statement was read by the Chair of the State Board of Education, Barbara Hampton at the conclusion of the hearing:

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-73(a)(1), Suspension and removal of local school board members under certain circumstances, the Georgia State Board of Education has received and reviewed all reports requested since the initial hearing date of November 28, 2011 in addition to the testimony heard and evidence presented today. In accordance with the official vote, the State Board of Education hereby recommends to the Governor to suspend with pay all members of the Miller County Board of Education this day of March 20, 2012.


O.C.G.A. § 20-2-73
Copyright 2011 by The State of Georgia
All rights reserved.
*** Current Through the 2011 Extraordinary Session ***
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-73 (2011)
§ 20-2-73. Suspension and removal of local school board members under certain
(a) (1) Notwithstanding Code Section 20-2-54.1 or any other provisions of law to the
contrary, if a local school system or school is placed on the level of accreditation immediately
preceding loss of accreditation for school board governance related reasons by one or more
accrediting agencies included in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (6) of Code Section 20-3-519,
the State Board of Education shall conduct a hearing in not less than ten days nor more than 30
days and recommend to the Governor whether to suspend all eligible members of the local
board of education with pay. If the State Board of Education makes such recommendation, the
Governor may, in his or her discretion, suspend all eligible members of the local board of
education with pay and, in consultation with the State Board of Education, appoint temporary
replacement members who shall be otherwise qualified to serve as members of such board.
(2) Notwithstanding Code Section 20-2-54.1 or any other provisions of law to the contrary, if
a local school system or school has been placed on, as of April 20, 2011, the level of
accreditation immediately preceding loss of accreditation for school board governance related
reasons by one or more accrediting agencies included in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (6) of
Code Section 20-3-519 and does not reattain full accreditation status by July 1, 2011, the State
Board of Education shall conduct a hearing in not less than ten days nor more than 30 days and
recommend to the Governor whether to suspend all members of the local board of education
with pay. If the State Board of Education makes such recommendation, the Governor may, in
his or her discretion, suspend all members of the local board of education with pay and, in
consultation with the State Board of Education, appoint temporary replacement members who
shall be otherwise qualified to serve as members of such board.
(b) Any local board of education member suspended under this Code section may petition the
Governor for reinstatement no earlier than 30 days following suspension and no later than 60
days following suspension. In the event that a suspended member does not petition for
reinstatement within the allotted time period, his or her suspension shall be converted into
permanent removal, and the temporary replacement member shall become a permanent
member and serve out the remainder of the term of the removed member.
(c) Upon petition for reinstatement by a suspended local board of education member, the
Governor or his or her designated agent shall conduct a hearing for the purpose of receiving
evidence relative to whether the local board of education member's continued service on the
local board of education is more likely than not to improve the ability of the local school system
or school to retain or reattain its accreditation. The appealing member shall be given at least 30
days' notice prior to such hearing. Such hearing shall be held not later than 90 days after the
petition is filed and in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative
Procedure Act," except that the individual conducting the hearing shall have the power to call
witnesses and request documents on his or her own initiative. For purposes of said chapter and
any hearing conducted pursuant to this Code section, the Governor shall be considered the
agency, and the Attorney General or his or her designee shall represent the interests of the
Governor in the hearing. If it is determined that it is more likely than not that the local board of
education member's continued service on the local board of education improves the ability of
the local school system or school to retain or reattain its accreditation, the member shall be
immediately reinstated; otherwise, the member shall be permanently removed, and the
temporary replacement member shall become a permanent member and serve out the
remainder of the term of the removed member or until the next general election which is at
least six months after the member was permanently removed, whichever is sooner. Judicial
review of any such decision shall be in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50.
(d) Paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of this Code section shall apply to a local school system or
school which is placed on the level of accreditation immediately preceding loss of accreditation
on or after April 20, 2011.
(e) This Code section shall apply to all local board of education members, regardless of when
they were elected or appointed.
HISTORY: Code 1981, § 20-2-73, enacted by Ga. L. 2010, p. 452, § 8/SB 84; Ga. L. 2011, p.
1, § 12/HB 326; Ga. L. 2011, p. 26, § 3/SB 79; Ga. L. 2011, p. 752, § 20/HB 142.

Senate Leadership Applauds Passage of Charter School Constitutional Amendment!

House Resolution 1162 passed the state Senate with a vote of 40 to 18 on Monday. Having received two-thirds majority vote, the Constitutional amendment will now be placed on the ballot for a vote by Georgia citizens. Leadership from the state Senate Majority Party including Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R- Woodstock), President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams (R-Lyons), Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone), and Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), chairman of the Committee on Education and Youth, offered the following statements regarding the vote:

“This resolution is about doing what is right for students, families, and communities throughout Georgia,” said Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers. “Years from now, we will look back at the hurdles we have overcome in order to advance education reform in Georgia, and mark today as a milestone in our fight for educational freedom and choice.”

“Education reform is a bipartisan issue affecting all Georgians. That being said, I am proud of my colleagues for the leadership they displayed in passing this positive piece of legislation that will ultimately allow parents to make the best choices for their children regarding their education,” stated President Pro-Tempore Tommie Williams. “The steps we took will not only ensure educational freedom in Georgia, but also support our effective charter school system – both of which will significantly impact the future of our state.”

“We were successful in moving Georgia’s education system forward for our children. This measure will place the choice in the hands of parents, who should be the ultimate voice when it comes to their children’s education,” said Sen. Ronnie Chance, chairman of Economic Development Committee. “Education is the biggest economic driver for Georgia, and this resolution will ensure our students have the options that they need to better equip themselves for college and their future careers.”

“This is a huge step forward for school choice in Georgia,” said Sen. Fran Millar, chairman of the Senate Education and Youth committee. “Test scores do not lie – our state charter schools repeatedly reach high levels of achievement in core subjects of math, language arts and science. The Georgia Supreme Court’s decision could have singlehandedly derailed a successful learning program. I am pleased to see the Senate take action to allow the State Board of Education to be a partner alongside local school districts in the development and funding of charter schools.” HR 1162 reasserts the state’s role in public education that was stripped by the Georgia Supreme Court in May of 2011 with a controversial 4-3 vote. This invalidated the General Assembly’s creation of an alternative authorizer for charter schools. HR 1162 defines a state charter school in the Georgia Constitution; providing that a state charter schools only be public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, and nonprofit, and regulates that the state is not allowed to lower extra funding to the local districts when a student leaves for a state charter school.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Title I Distinguished Schools and Districts Awarded

824 Schools Made AYP Three Consecutive Years or More

State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge today named 824 Georgia Title I Distinguished Schools and four Title I Distinguished Districts.

"These schools are showing that high expectations, coupled with effective educators in the building, produce outstanding student achievement," Superintendent Barge said. "I'm very pleased to recognize the educators, students and parents in these schools and school districts."

Title I schools have significant populations of students who are economically disadvantaged. These schools receive federal money to assist with the education of their students. There are two National Title I Distinguished Schools among the total 824 Georgia Title I Distinguished Schools. Title I Distinguished Schools have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) at least three years in a row.

"With the academic bar increasing each year, it is not easy to continue making AYP," Superintendent Barge said. "These 824 schools have proven that it can be done even when there are challenges."

Title I Distinguished Schools that have made AYP for three consecutive years are awarded a certificate, while those who have made AYP eight or more years receive a monetary award, paid for out of federal funds.

There are also four Title I Distinguished Districts, recognizing school systems in four different size categories -- Large District, Medium District, Small District and Very Small District. The awarded districts have closed the achievement gap the most between economically disadvantaged students and students who are not economically disadvantaged in each category. The results of the reading, English language arts and mathematics portions of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) and the Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT) are used to determine achievement.

The 2011-2012 Title I Distinguished Districts are:
- Large District: Spalding County
- Medium: Carrollton City
- Small District: Ben Hill County
- Very Small District: Chickamauga City

The winning districts each received $50,000 from federal funds.

The National Title I Distinguished Schools program recognizes two schools that receive Title I funding. One school is recognized for closing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and students that are not economically disadvantaged. The other school is recognized for exceeding the benchmarks required to make AYP. The CRCT and GHSGT results in reading, English language arts and mathematics are used to determine the winning schools.

The two National Title I Distinguished Schools are:
- Closing the Gap: Brooks County Middle - Brooks County
- Meets and Exceeds Performance: Fayette Middle School - Fayette County

Each school received $15,000 in addition to their FY11 Title I Distinguished Schools allocation.

Distinguished Schools List - https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/Attachment.aspx?S=1262&AID=350010&MID=21836

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2011 Georgia Schools of Excellence Named

Twenty-six Schools Named for 2011

State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge named the 2011 Georgia Schools of Excellence in Student Achievement today, honoring 26 schools that have shown the greatest improvement or highest achievement across the state. Each of these schools will receive a $1,000 check from Georgia Natural Gas to be used however they wish.

"These schools are showing that excellence can be achieved when they focus on providing a world-class education for their students," Superintendent Barge said. "I offer my sincere congratulations to our 2011 Georgia Schools of Excellence and my appreciation to Georgia Natural Gas for their continued support of our schools as the title sponsor. As we continue to deal with tough economic times, schools are always looking for ways to generate revenue to benefit their students. I would highly encourage principals and parents to consider getting their schools on board with True-Blue Schools immediately to generate much-needed money.” To learn more about True-Blue Schools, go to www.gfpe.org.

“At Georgia Natural Gas, we've always been committed to strengthening the communities we serve,” said Georgia Natural Gas CEO Mike Braswell. “That’s why we are a Georgia Partner in Education and proud sponsor of the 2011 Georgia Schools of Excellence and Georgia Teacher of the Year programs.”

“Through our TrueBlue Schools Program, Georgia Natural Gas is also directly impacting students and teachers in the classroom by helping Georgia schools raise $2 million to pay for books, art supplies, music programs, field trips, classroom technology and anything else they may need,” Braswell said.

United Healthcare is also a sponsor for the 2011 Schools of Excellence program.

The Georgia Schools of Excellence are honored in two categories. Qualifying schools are chosen from each Congressional District in the following categories (full criteria attached below):
- Top 10%: Schools that are in the top 10 percent in Georgia as measured by assessments in reading and mathematics.
- Greatest Gains: Schools that demonstrated greatest continuous gains in student achievement for the past three years as measured by assessments in reading and mathematics.


Congressional District, School, System
1. Matilda Harris Elementary, Camden County
2. Potter Street Elementary, Decatur County
3. Rosemont Elementary, Troup County
4. Pine Street Elementary, Rockdale County
5. Clairemont Elementary, City Schools of Decatur
6. Sprayberry High, Cobb County
7. Level Creek Elementary, Gwinnett County
8. Heard-Mixon Elementary, Newton County
9. Settles Bridge Elementary, Forsyth County
10. Demorest Elementary, Habersham County
11. Hillgrove High, Cobb County
12. Heard Elementary, Savannah-Chatham County
13. Stockbridge Elementary, Henry County

TOP 10%
Congressional District, School, System

1. Oglethorpe Point Elementary, Glynn County
2. Westside Elementary, Lowndes County
3. Peeples Elementary, Fayette County
4. Oak Grove Elementary, DeKalb County
5. Morningside Elementary, Atlanta Public Schools
6. Vanderlyn Elementary, DeKalb County
7. Shiloh Point Elementary, Forsyth County
8. Alexander II Magnet, Bibb County
9. Vickery Creek Elementary, Forsyth County
10. Stevens Creek Elementary, Columbia County
11. Jones Elementary, Bremen City
12 Savannah Arts Academy, Savannah-Chatham County
13. Holly Springs Elementary, Douglas County

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Georgia Virtual School Increases Opportunities for Students

More Online Credit, Shared Content Among New Additions
Georgia students now possess greater choice and flexibility in how they choose to tailor their educational experience. In July, the State Board of Education increased the amount of Carnegie units that a student is eligible to take per semester. This change no longer limits students to the one full unit per semester but increases the amount of Virtual School content available to a student per semester, and even permits students to take their entire course load through the Georgia Virtual School with FTE funding.

"My vision is to Make Education Work for All Georgians," said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. "This change to allow students to take more courses through the Georgia Virtual School is a huge step toward making education work for our students.."

Additionally, the Georgia Virtual School has made available online its full course content in many core subject areas including middle school courses, which are fully aligned to the Georgia Performance Standards. Known as Free Shared Resources, this online content includes free digital resources such as interactive video lessons, self-check assessments, and educational links to help enrich instruction for students of all levels. Any student, parent, and educator in the state can access the most current listing of shared learning content by visiting www.gavirtuallearning.org and clicking on the resources tab.

If you’d like more information about Georgia Virtual Learning, or to find out how Georgia Virtual School can enhance your child’s education, please visit www.gavirtuallearning.org or www.gavirtualschool.org.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Statement from State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge Regarding the Supreme Court's Ruling on the Charter Schools Commission

Below is a statement from State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge regarding the Supreme Court's ruling on the Charter Schools Commission.

"With today's Supreme Court ruling against the legality of the Charter Schools Commission, the state stands ready to help in whatever way necessary to ensure that the education of the students in these schools is not compromised," said Superintendent Barge. "I will be working closely with the State Board of Education to see what flexibility can be offered for these schools."


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Graduation Test Scores Increase in English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies

Results of the 2011 Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT) show student scores increased in all content areas where there is historical data - science, social studies and English language arts. Because this is the first year the more rigorous Georgia Performance Standards (GPS)-based mathematics GHSGT was given, there is no historical data to compare from year to year in that content area.

"The results of the 2011 GHSGT are very encouraging,” State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said. "These scores give us a good indicator that students and teachers continue to rise to the challenge of a more rigorous curriculum.”

The percentage of students passing the English language arts GHSGT (91%) increased one percentage point from 2010. In science, 93% of students passed the test, an increase of three percentage points from last year. Finally, in social studies, 80% of students passed the GHSGT, a two percentage point increase over last year’s results.

For the first time this year, the GHSGT in mathematics is GPS-based. On the mathematics exam, 84% of students passed, an expected decrease from last year’s Quality Core Curriculum-based exam (91%).

In March 2011, the State Board of Education approved Superintendent Barge’s recommendation to allow school districts to teach math with an integrated or discrete delivery method.

"We know many students have struggled with the integrated approach to mathematics,” said Superintendent Barge. “A one-size-fits-all approach is not in the best interest of all of our students, but high expectations and our rigorous curriculum are right for all of them. We expected a decline in results for the math portion of the GHSGT, but based on feedback from school districts, we anticipated a more dramatic decline.”

Project ExPreSS Offered for Students Needing Remediation in Mathematics
The Exam Preparation for Student Success (ExPreSS) program is a free, two-week summer remediation program for Georgia public high school juniors who were first-time test-takers this year and did not pass the mathematics portion of the GHSGT.

About the Georgia High School Graduation Tests
The GHSGT are given to high school students for the first time in the spring of their junior year. All four portions of the test, plus the Georgia High School Writing Test, must be passed in order for a student to receive a full diploma from a Georgia public high school. Students can retake the GHSGT as many times as needed to pass the exams.

Since 2005, the state has been implementing the Georgia Performance Standards, a more rigorous and focused curriculum in the core areas of mathematics, English language arts, social studies and science. As the curriculum is phased in, the state's tests are being aligned to match the GPS.

Since the GHSGT assess cumulative knowledge, the new curriculum must be in place for three years before the exams can be fully aligned to the GPS. The science and English language arts GHSGT were aligned to the GPS for the first time in spring 2008. The social studies exam transitioned to a GPS test in spring 2010, and the mathematics exam transitioned to the GPS for the first time this spring.

The new, GPS-aligned tests are graded on four scoring levels – below proficiency, basic proficiency, advanced proficiency and honors. The tests aligned to the old curriculum are scored on three levels – did not pass, pass and pass plus.

At their April 2011 meeting, the State Board of Education approved Superintendent Barge's recommendation to phase out the GHSGT beginning with students entering ninth grade for the first time in 2011. For details about the phase-out plan, visit http://www.gadoe.org/pea_communications.aspx?ViewMode=1&obj=2032.


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AFC Praises Improvements to Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship Program

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Federation for Children today (May 13) praised its Georgia state allies, Governor Nathan Deal, and state legislators for the passage of revisions to a Georgia school choice program that will raise the cap on the number of eligible students, better secure their places in the program once admitted, and significantly increase the program's transparency and accountability.

Gov. Deal yesterday signed into law House Bill 325, which was passed with bipartisan support by state legislators late last month thanks in large part to the grassroots efforts of Center for Educated Georgia and the strong leadership from bill sponsors Sen. Chip Rogers, Rep. David Casas, Rep. Earl Ehrhart, and Rep. Delvis Dutton.

The bill strengthens and clarifies key provisions of the Georgia Scholarship Tax Credit Program, including the stipulation that students who enter the program can continue receiving scholarships until their high school graduation. The plan also calls for the program to expand its eligibility by eliminating the requirement that first-grade participants attend a public school the year prior to entering the scholarship program.

Other provisions include an increase in the amount of time donors have to make contributions, the ability for donors to contribute online, and a change in how individual scholarship amounts will be capped. Scholarship caps will now be based on the average per-student funding for public education in the state, the result of which will ensure that the state does not incur additional costs as a result of the program.

"This is an important step in ensuring that Georgia families are getting the access to educational options they deserve," said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. "We applaud state legislators and Governor Deal for helping make a great program that helps kids even better. These changes will benefit not only students and their families, but also the taxpayers of Georgia, too."

The new eligibility requirements and scholarship amounts are coupled with more stringent accountability standards for the Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs)—the organizations to which donors contribute and that ultimately grant scholarships. SSOs must now maintain an independent board of directors with at least three members, in addition to the already existing requirements that they submit to annual audits and independent reviews of all financial statements.

House Bill 325 also gives authority to the state Department of Revenue to take punitive action against any SSO not in compliance with the law.

Enacted in 2008, the Georgia Scholarship Tax Credit Program currently serves over 6,000 students across the state, having more than doubled its enrollment from just a year ago. One of two school choice programs in the state, Georgia has nearly 9,000 students who are currently benefitting from school choice.


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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Regents Approve ‘State College’ Status for Four USG Institutions

Four of the University System of Georgia’s (USG) current two-year colleges are set to offer limited bachelor’s degree programs, following approval today (May 10) by the Board of Regents to change their institutional mission to that of a “state college.”

The four institutions are Darton College in Albany, Georgia Highlands College in Rome, and in metropolitan Atlanta, both Atlanta Metropolitan College and Georgia Perimeter College.

“The Board’s actions reflect the evolving role of our access institutions as we identify specific job-related and economic development needs throughout the state,” said Rob Watts, chief operating officer for the USG. “Officials at these institutions have made a strong and data-driven case to the Board for the mission change and for the needs in these communities for specific baccalaureate degree programs.”

The state college sector was established in 1998 and categorizes two-year, associate-degree granting institutions that have been authorized by the Board to offer a limited number of four-year baccalaureate degree programs. The University System’s other institutional categories are: research universities, regional universities, state universities, and two-year colleges. With today’s actions, there are now 12 USG institutions in the state college sector.

Two of the mission changes – at Darton College and Georgia Highlands College – reflect the regents’ ongoing focus on meeting the growing need and ongoing shortages of healthcare professionals in Georgia, specifically in nursing.

Both institutions currently offer associate’s level nursing programs. The Board’s approval will allow them to offer a bachelor of science in nursing degree, targeted to existing holders of a registered nurse license and associate’s degree who wish to complete a bachelor’s degree.

In 2006, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services reported that Georgia would have a deficit of nearly 38,000 registered nurses by 2020, absent any action by state leaders. Further, a 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine indicated the need for each state to raise the credentials of its nursing workforce towards the baccalaureate degree to improve quality of care, and reduce medical errors and costs.

A review of registered nurse job openings at area hospitals in Darton’s service area found that approximately 232 registered nurse positions exist at various hospitals and health-related agencies. Darton’s new nursing program will help to increase the production of nurses in the region, complementing the existing efforts of both Albany State University and Georgia Southwestern State University’s nursing degree programs.

Georgia Highlands College’s new nursing degree will help to meet the needs for nurses in north and northwest Georgia and serve the educational needs of local students who for time and financial limitations cannot pursue a baccalaureate degree outside the region served by the College.

In the Atlanta metro region, the change in mission status for Atlanta Metropolitan College, located in south Atlanta, and Georgia Perimeter College, which serves Atlanta’s northeast and eastern suburbs, will result in very different targeted bachelor’s degree offerings.

Atlanta Metro will offer its first bachelor of science with a major in the biological sciences. This degree is specifically designed to increase the pipeline of students who earn degrees in STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. While the program as approved today by the Board does not include a teacher certification component, College officials have future plans to add this. Program graduates will have entry-level opportunities for immediate employment and offer the foundation for those students who seek a master’s or higher-level degrees.

At Georgia Perimeter, the Board has authorized the establishment of two bachelor degree programs: a bachelor of arts with a major in sign language interpreting and a bachelor of science with a major in health informatics.

While Georgia Perimeter currently offers an associate and certificate level program in sign language interpreting, a new requirement by the field’s national professional organization and certifying body that goes into effect in July 2012 will require candidates who wish to sit for the Registered Health Information Administration Certification exam to have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. The new bachelor’s degree program at the College will ensure program graduates are eligible for certification.

The U.S. Bureau of Statistics in 2008 projected a need for additional health informatics specialists, who manage patient information systems. Students will be able to enroll in the program at any of the College’s five campuses.

The start date for the five new bachelor’s degree programs at the four institutions will vary, dependent upon review and approval from the relevant accrediting organizations.


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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

America’s First ‘Green Flag’ Flies Over Sustainable Savannah School

Editor's Note:  Kudos to the Savannah Country Day School for this great accomplishment.  Click here if you want information on how to make your school and Ed-School.

Savannah Country Day School in Georgia was named the nation’s first Green Flag Eco-School in a ceremony yesterday (April 28), signifying exceptional achievement in ‘greening’ school grounds, operations and curricula. The school achieved this honor through a combination of excellence by “green” management of its facilities and grounds, providing opportunities for outdoor education and by integrating environmental learning throughout its curricula.

The Eco-Schools USA program, which is hosted by National Wildlife Federation, counts nearly 500 schools and some 205,000 students among its participants, but none has achieved the program’s highest honor, the Green Flag, until now.

“The Green Flag is special – and only awarded to those schools who have demonstrated a commitment to environmental sustainability and increasing environmental literacy for its students, faculty, and wider school community,” said Laura Hickey, Senior Director of Eco-Schools USA, on hand for the official flag-raising.

Also in attendance for the event were the City of Savannah’s Mayor Pro Tem, Edna Jackson, and Environmental Affairs Officer Laura Walker. Jackson congratulated the school and thanked cheering students and staff for helping to make Savannah a “Green City.”

To win the first Green Flag, Savannah Country Day School, which completed a Silver LEED-certified lower school building in 2008, tackled a variety of sustainability projects, including lunchroom recycling and composting programs, a well-tended vegetable garden, environmental current events coursework and school-supported ‘outdoor classroom time.’ This was in keeping with Eco-Schools USA’s uniquely holistic approach—‘greening’ the school building, the school grounds and the student curriculum and experience.

Hickey’s official certification tour of the school included a visit to the previously-certified NWF Schoolyard Habitat and a demonstration of cistern use and garden upkeep by a student Eco-Action Team, but 'green living isn't limited to a select group---or grade---of students at Savannah Country Day.

In kindergarten, students tend to a natural herb garden, moving on to a fruit orchard in first grade. Second-graders study monarch butterfly eggs, and third-graders take care of a full organic vegetable garden. The entire school supports composting of pre-consumer waste and participates in a "green hour" program allowing children to be outside every week for instruction time (in addition to recess).

Among the more unique elements of sustainable life at Savannah Country Day School is lunchtime, which goes well beyond the usual tater-tots and milk cartons: produce from the school garden is regularly prepared and served to students in the dining hall, with dishes containing it identified with a "From Here" label. The school chef often creates a display of garden vegetables to entice youngsters to try them, and local food vendors are celebrated with "Meet the Farmer" signage. All kitchen scraps and food waste are added to the school's compost pile. The school's dining program is managed by SAGE Dining Services.

Many schools have implemented the Eco-Schools USA program, some earning Bronze- and Silver-level awards for their progress (Georgia alone boasts 14 Eco-Schools). The heretofore unclaimed Green Flag requires a rigorous combination of environmental audits, curriculum reinvention and internal and external monitoring.

The program is designed to help schools in a variety of ways, including saving money, reducing waste and improving student academic performance and environmental awareness (more benefits listed here). Once a school has registered and implemented the Seven Steps of the program, it can apply for an Eco-Schools award. A school is considered to be a permanent Eco-School once it has gained its fourth Green Flag.

The Eco-Schools program is an international network of 38,000 K-12 schools in 51 countries, started in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) with support by the European Commission. It was named by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) as a model initiative for Education for Sustainable Development in 2003. NWF was named the stateside host in 2008, thus formally launching Eco-Schools USA.

The award came just days after the U.S. Department of Education announced the creation of the Green Ribbon Schools program, which will similarly recognize schools that have taken great strides in greening their curricula, buildings, school grounds and overall building operations. That program, which is to be modeled on the nearly 30-year-old Blue Ribbon Schools program that recognizes schools whose student bodies have displayed high academic achievement or improvement, will help establish guidelines for overall sustainability in American schools. NWF and other organizations had pushed for the implementation of that program for the past year.

“American schools already led the way on innovation,” said Kevin Coyle, Vice President for Education and Training at NWF. “Now, in addition to revamping their buildings and grounds, they are increasingly setting a high standard for sustainability education and becoming truly green.”

By Max Greenberg
National Wildlife Federation

Source:  National Wildlife Federation


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Monday, May 9, 2011

Southern Polytechnic State University and High Museum of Art Form a Unique Alliance

/PRNewswire/ -- Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) has established a unique affiliation with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta that will give students and faculty access to the museum's exhibitions, collections and programs.

"I'm happy to note that we are the first University System of Georgia institution to have such an affiliation," said Dr. Zvi Szafran, vice president for academic affairs.

He cited the following benefits to the university:

* Faculty members will be able to take their classes on field trips to the museum at no cost to the students or faculty members.
* Students can visit the High Museum of Art free of charge at any time by showing their SPSU ID; faculty members will receive a discount with ID on daily tickets and on individual, dual or family memberships.
* The museum will conduct two SPSU campus lectures or programs per year at SPSU and will provide faculty members and students with access to visiting artists and scholars.
* The museum will provide internships in Collections and Exhibitions, Education, Marketing and Communications, or Advancement for up to two undergraduate students per year (one per semester).
* The museum will host an SPSU event each year. The first one will take place on June 8, when participants of the Polytechnic Summit will tour the "Modern by Design" exhibition of work from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) just days after it opens at the High Museum of Art.

"This partnership truly allows for the integration of the visual arts into the educational curriculum of SPSU," added Dr. Szafran.

Aside from gaining interns, the museum will also benefit in another way from the expertise available at SPSU. A few select students in SPSU's mechatronics program with training in robotics are assisting with the installation and maintenance of one of the pieces in the MoMA exhibition. "Digital Matter" is a major work of art by iconic Dutch designer Joris Laarman. This kinetic installation features a robot that will construct, disassemble and reconstruct a piece of furniture over an extended period of time.

"Our affiliation with the High Museum of Art is a win-win," said Dr. Szafran. "Both institutions benefit from each others' unique strengths. We're expecting that many interesting collaborations will result from this alliance.


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State Board of Education Approves Waiver Requests For School Systems Impacted by Violent Storms

The State Board of Education today (May 6) unanimously approved State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge’s recommendation to grant requests from five local school systems to waive the required number of instructional days as a result of the violent storms that swept through Georgia last week. Dade, Floyd, Meriwether, Spalding, and Walker County School Systems suffered severe damage to several school buildings during the April 27th storms that have forced them to use up their allotted emergency days. At a special called meeting today, the board voted to allow these five systems to waive the 180 school-day equivalent so that they will not be required to make up these lost days.

“These schools and communities have been struck by a terrible tragedy," said Superintendent Barge. "While we cannot replace the lives that were lost or undo the damage that was done, we can provide the flexibility they need to help facilitate rebuilding and recovery. The families and communities affected by this tragedy are in our prayers. We hope today’s action will make this recovery process a little easier for them.”

Today’s board vote specifically waived SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.02 School Day and School Year for Students and Employees. For the individual waiver requests, please visit https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/meetings/viewmeetingOrder.aspx?S=1262&MID=19505.


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