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Pickens school gets pre-k classes

Elementary grades fail to meet state math standards


By Eileen Steinhauer
Progress Contributor
     The Pickens County school district has been awarded two lottery-funded prekindergarten  classes for the 2014-2015 school year.
    Although the school district requested eight pre-K classes, it was announced at last week’s board of education meeting that two were granted. Both classes will be housed at Hill City Elementary, which was determined by Bright from the Start, the state agency in charge of pre-K.

    “We are excited for our two new classes,” said Superintendent Dr. Lula Mae Perry.  “However, we are eager for more. We want to be able to best serve the students of our community.”
    Pre-K is an educational program for four-year-olds to help prepare them for kindergarten.  It is funded through the Georgia state lottery. Children who turn four on or before September 1 of the current school year are eligible to attend. Typically, pre-K classes operate on the same calendar and school day schedule as the school system.
    The two pre-K classes granted to Hill City Elementary must maintain 22 students in each classroom. A total of 44 students will be served by this new program. 
    But the two Hill City classes aren’t the only lottery-funded classes in the county. Country Kids daycare has two classes; Harmony Academy has two classes; and Head Start in Tate has two classes.
    All of these classes have a limit of 22 students each (or 44 students per facility). Directors of these programs say there are spaces available for the 2014-2015 school year and encourage parents to contact them about enrollment information. 
    At this point, the school district does not know how students will be selected for the 44 spots; however, staff members are working with Bright from the Start to learn more about the selection process.
    See advertisements on pages 10A and 11A for more registration information. 
    For more information regarding the new pre-K classes, please contact the Pickens County Central Office at 706-253-1700.  

Tentative budget includes raise for non-certified personnel

    The board voted last week to accept a tentative budget for the 2014-2015 school year. The budget year for the school district runs from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. 
    However, according to Chief Financial Officer Amy Smith, a fixed budget can not be presented until the county property tax digest is set, which typically takes place in August.
    The board voted 5-0 on Thursday, June 19 to approve a spending resolution, recommended by Perry, for the month of July. This resolution allows the school district to spend money in July although a budget had not yet been passed for the year.
    Some highlights of this year’s budget include a seven percent base pay raise for noncertified employees, four-and-a-half new teaching positions, a new textbook/curriculum adoption, and the return of the Accelerated Reader program. 
    An overview of the tentative budget can be viewed on the Pickens County eboard under the July 10 board meeting. The eboard can be accessed by going  to Pickens County schools website and then following links for the school board.

CRCT Math scores low for elementary schools

    According to Dr. Sandy Greene, Director of Teaching and Learning, in all content areas the two middle schools achieved CRCT scores that were at or above the state target. 
    In each of the five content areas - math, reading, language arts, science and social studies - the state of Georgia sets a percentage of students that should meet or exceed the standards.  In order to match the state standards, the school district must have the same amount or more students earning meets or exceeds scores on the test. 
    One example is in reading.  The state suggests that 95 percent of students meet or exceed on the reading test. Pickens County middle school students had 98 percent of students meeting or exceeding. 
    As a group, the elementary schools did not fare as well meeting state CRCT standards.  Elementary students met the state targets in reading and social studies. Scores were close in language arts and science but further from the target in math. 
    The state suggests that 88 percent of students earn meets or exceeds scores in math.  In Pickens County, 82 percent of elementary students met that mark with 18 percent failing to meet state targets.
    When broken down by grade it appears that as a whole the county struggled most in 3rd grade math. The CRCT statistics recently released by the Georgia Department of Education show that 23.3 percent of Pickens 3rd graders did not meet state math standards; 19.1 percent of 4th graders; and 12.4 percent of 5th graders.
    When broken down by school, elementary students who did not meet state math standards are:
    •3rd Grade: Hill City, 23 percent; Harmony, 23 percent; Jasper, 21 percent; and Tate, 26 percent.
    •4th grade: Hill City, 13 percent; Harmony, 28 percent; Jasper, 17 percent; and Tate, 22 percent.
    •5th grade: Hill City, 9 percent; Harmony, 6 percent; Jasper 18 percent; and Tate, 23 percent
    This was the last year for the administration of the CRCT.  It will be replaced next year with a new test, the Georgia Milestones Assessment System. 
    The new testing system will include open-ended questions, which are supposed to be designed to get a better idea of how students are mastering a topic.  According to the Georgia Department of Education, the new test will be aligned with the Georgia Common Core Performance Standards and are intended to be more rigorous in order to better prepare students. 
    "We need to know that students are being prepared, not at a minimum-competency level but with rigorous, relevant education, to enter college, the workforce or the military at a level that makes them competitive with students from other states," State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said in a release.
    For more information regarding this year’s CRCT scores by school, please visit the CRCT article link under news and announcements at



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