Buildings, grants and academics in 2012
by Mark Andrews
Dec 26, 2012 | 1981 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow County Schools Superintendent John Harper addresses the crowd at March’s groundbreaking ceremony for Adairsville Middle School. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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Bartow County and Cartersville City schools saw growth in 2012, also seeing recognition for academic endeavors that span from being honored by the Georgia Department of Education to receiving millions in grants. This article will take a glance at a few of the many accomplishments of the Bartow County and Cartersville City school systems over the past year.

County and city see $4.1 million and $2.4 million in Striving Readers

Comprehensive Literacy Grants

Both Bartow and Cartersville systems in 2012 saw millions in Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grants.

The schools that saw funding from the grant are Clear Creek, Cloverleaf, Emerson, Hamilton Crossing, Kingston and White elementary schools as well as South Central and Cass middle schools and Cass High School as well as the system’s STARS Pre-K program. The county currently is working to acquire a grant to be used at the remaining schools in the county.

The grants are going toward technology to aid in literacy through technology upgrades, which have included providing students and teachers with laptop computers as well as more interactive technology in the schools, such as interactive projectors.

Former Cartersville Director of Curriculum Peggy Cowan said the city shares the same goal with the county and rest of the state, placing an emphasis on students and the community grasping the need for literacy.

“Our proposal is from birth on to do the exact same thing, communicate literacy to our community and address the needs of students in various agencies that work with children that could potentially lag behind in their development,” Cowan said. “... We’ll have intensive training for our teachers, pre-k on, and we’ll invite our community partners to be involved in some of the training.

“In terms of the literacy development of all children, we’ll put in universal screenings so we’ll know where each child is in their development and be able to address the specific needs of each child in terms of literacy, and literacy is reading, writing and communication, it’s not just the reading component.”

New schools for the county

Bartow County voters in July 2010 approved the district to issue $70 million in general obligation debt to help acquire land for and construct its future facilities, make technology improvements, refurbish existing facilities and purchase school buses. The authorization was a part of the approved continuation of the local education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, with the 1-cent tax continuing to be levied for five more years beginning this July, with its proceeds going to the county school system and Cartersville City Schools.

In 2012, some of this money was spent toward new facilities, including new schools for the county and building a multiuse facility at Cartersville Middle School, which provides a location for athletics as well as the arts.

Bartow established the following in 2012:

• The new $13 million, 108,000 square-foot Cloverleaf Elementary School opened its doors this fall with an emphasis on technology. It contains classrooms to accommodate more than 800 students, a gym, a complete kitchen with a cafeteria and stage, a library with media center, a computer lab and an art studio and health office.

• The county, in November, broke ground on the new 87,000-square-foot, 500-classroom, $12.8 million Emerson Elementary School, which is located adjacent to South Central Middle School.

• In March, the county broke ground on Adairsville Middle School and will group students together in wings according to grade level.

The Bartow County Board of Education approved in 2012 the building of a new band room at South Central Middle School.

Superintendent John Harper has said grouping together students of the same grade level will have many benefits, such as helping to reduce the overall flow of student traffic around the building. He explained the grade-specific wings will end at a hallway that leads to areas where students of varying grade levels congregate, such as the lunchroom or gym.

“This plan is very unique to Adairsville,” said board member and former Cartersville Middle School guidance counselor Wanda Cagle Gray during a board work session. “It is so important for students in sixth to eighth grade to be with their peers.”

The school will see a 1-to-1 ratio of students to computers.

Bartow County College and Career Academy/Learning Center

The Georgia Department of Education in 2012 approved the charter status of the Bartow County College and Career Academy. The academy also has received a $3.25 million grant for construction and renovation costs and $100,00 for startup costs.

Harper has said the intent of the academy, which will be located at the Bartow County Learning Center on Grassdale Road beginning fall 2013, will be to provide an alternative education source for high school students who don’t desire the traditional high school experience while acquiring their diploma.

The academy is set to offer courses based on a needs assessment survey sent to manufacturers and businesses throughout the county and has a partnership with Georgia Highlands College and Chattahoochee Technical College so students also may earn college credits and possibly certification or a two-year degree while attending the academy.

The BCLC opened its doors in the summer and currently provides education opportunities for students. A popular draw for students is the Bartow Virtual Academy, which has 32 seats but has seen more than 150 applicants.

The academy allows students to work from home and parents can acquire daily a student’s progress in terms of completing course work and time spent on course work. It also allows students and parents to find what class options work best for the individual situation, letting students complete their work while still being a student at their school of origin.

“We had one girl who completed four classes in one month and now she gets to go back to Cass High School in January and graduate with her class,” Director Larry Parker previously told The Daily Tribune News. “She would not have had that opportunity under a system that does not have this type of program for them.”

Cartersville Elementary and Taylorsville Elementary recognized by state/Academic achievements

Cartersville Elementary School this year was named as a “High-Progress School” by the Georgia Department of Education.

A “High-Progress School” is a Title I school among the 10 percent of Title I schools in the state that is making the most progress in improving the performance of the “all students” group over three years on the statewide assessments. A school may not be classified as a High-Progress School if there are significant achievement gaps across subgroups that are not closing in the school.

“They looked at three years of [Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests] scores, 2010, 2011, 2012, and they looked at reading, English language arts and mathematics, and they saw the improvement,” Principal Ken MacKenzie said. “They didn’t pick one specific subgroup; this was an improvement for all students.”

Taylorsville Elementary School was named a “Highest-Performing School.”

According to the press release, a “Highest-Performing School” must have made Adequate Yearly Progress for the “all students” group and all of its subgroups in 2011. A school may not be classified as a Highest-Performing School if there are significant achievement gaps across subgroups that are not closing in the school.

The category is reserved for schools with the highest performance or the biggest academic gains by students in the last three years.

Cartersville City Board of Education curriculum chairwoman Pat Broadnax reported school attendance is up one-tenth from this point last year at 97.6 percent.

“We’ve also received the [2011-2012] student assessment reports and it appears [students] have improved on the assessment,” Broadnax said.

The reports include assessments of eighth grade writing, Criterion Referenced Competency Tests, End of Course Tests, Advanced Placement, ACT and SAT scores.

For example, 80 percent of Cartersville Middle School eighth graders met the state standard for the eighth grade writing assessment, compared to 75 percent of the state.