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November 5, 2009 Issue

Schools narrowly miss AYP standards
Jordan wins Bartow; Glascock passes SPLOST
H1N1 vaccines available locally
Census workers need help

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Schools narrowly miss AYP standards

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

The Jefferson County School System and the Glascock County School System both failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as a whole earlier in the year. After retests, the Jefferson County School System still failed to meet AYP, but passed more criteria than during the original tests. Glascock County School System did make AYP after the retests. In Jefferson County some of the system’s schools did meet all criteria in all groups of students and subgroups.

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Jefferson County
“All six schools in the county showed significant improvement over the 2007-2008 school year in several areas,” Jefferson County Superintendent Carl Bethune said.

According to Bethune, in Georgia, proficiency is determined by student performance on the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) in reading, English language arts and mathematics for elementary and middle school students. For AYP, scores are calculated in grades three through eight for reading, English language arts and mathematics. At the high school level, proficiency for AYP is defined by the 11th grade Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT) in English language arts and enhanced scores on the mathematics portion.

The Georgia Department of Education announced that it is now including CRCT and Georgia High School Graduation Test retests for second round AYP determinations. These retests were given in late June and early July and will be announced at a later date.

“We were so close with our first round AYP determinations, that we believe the retests will result in most of our schools making AYP for 2008-2009,” Bethune explained after the initial results during the summer.

Initially, Carver Elementary, Louisville Academy and Wrens Middle School made AYP for all groups of students and for all subgroups, while Wrens Elementary did not meet AYP failing in two subgroups in reading and mathematics, and Louisville Middle School meeting AYP in all groups and subgroups except students with disabilities in reading and mathematics.

“Of the 18 areas assessed for AYP in 2008-2009 in grades three through eight, 11 areas showed improvement or stayed the same as compared to the 2007-2008 school year,” Bethune said. “Both Louisville and Wrens Middle Schools scored higher than the state in grade seven and eight mathematics and together had a remarkable gain of 10 points in grade six mathematics as compared to the 2007-2008 scores.”

After retests, Wrens Elementary School did make AYP, passing for all groups of students and all subgroups, while Louisville Middle still did not meet AYP. Louisville Middle failed to meet AYP in students with disabilities in reading. This was their first year failing to meet AYP and this will not put the school on needs improvement.

Jefferson County High School made AYP for all students and for all subgroups in the area of English language arts, but did not meet AYP requirements in mathematics for two subgroups.

“If the school makes AYP after the second round of testing for 2008-2009, it will come off the Needs Improvement List because JCHS made AYP last year,” Bethune said during the summer. “It takes two consecutive years of making AYP to get off the list. Whether or not the school will offer public school choice, if available, and supplemental educational services will be based on notification from the Georgia Office of Student Achievement’s as to the final determination of AYP for JCHS.”

After retests, the school system said Jefferson County High School was close, but did meet AYP in all academic areas, but failed to meet AYP in its second indicator which is the graduation rate. The high school needed at least a 75 percent graduation rate, but was close with a 74.1 percent rate.

Schools receiving the status of a Title I Distinguished School included Louisville Academy, which made AYP for the 10th year in a row, Carver Elementary for meeting AYP for the sixth consecutive year and Wrens Middle for meeting AYP for a fourth consecutive year and now Wrens Elementary for its eighth year.

“We are particularly proud of our middle school mathematics scores which exceeded the state in both grades seven and eight,” Bethune said. “The new Georgia Performance Standards for mathematics are much more rigorous and challenging. We now have mathematics support teachers in the elementary and middle schools. This double dosing of mathematics has really paid off.

“In spite of the promising results for 2008-2009, we know that much work must continue to meet the No Child Left Behind bar as it moves up to 100 percent by the year 2014. We have a number of county-wide efforts in place to improve student performance including professional development, benchmark assessments, formative assessments and more collaboration and consistency across grade, school and system levels. We are committed to providing every student the best education possible.”

The school system is not on needs improvement because this is the first year of not making AYP.

Glascock County
At Glascock County Consolidated School, the only failing subgroup was in grades three through eight mathematics for the economically disadvantaged subgroup when results were first released during the summer.

“This subgroup is comprised of students in third through eighth grade who meet economically disadvantaged criteria as defined by the Georgia Department of Education,” Glascock County Superintendent Jim Holton explained.

To meet the Georgia Department of Education mathematics Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) absolute bar of 59.50 percent of students meeting or exceeding the standard on their respective CRCT, the initial results for Glascock County indicate that 51 percent of students in the economically disadvantaged subgroup met or exceeded the standard.

After the retests, Glascock County School System did make AYP.

“As the new rigorous GPS (Georgia Performance Standards) curriculum has challenged students and teachers alike, everyone has worked extremely hard and test scores continue to improve,” Holton said.

To meet AYP each school must have a 95 percent participation rate in state assessments, academic performance on all state assessments, and second indicators. The second indicators for our system are graduation rate and student attendance.

The Glascock County School System has made AYP four of the past six years, according to Holton. Both of the years in which AYP was not met was the result of math students with disabilities in the grades three through eight subgroup not meeting the AMO as defined by AYP.

“Although GCCS math scores as a whole have always been well above AYP requirements, middle grades math students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged subgroups continue to be areas of concern,” Holton said.

The Glascock County attendance rates were well within acceptable levels as defined by AYP. The attendance rate is defined by the Georgia Department of Education for K-12 schools as the percentage of students in grades three through eight absent more than 15 days. The attendance rate for the school year was 10.2 percent in grades three through eight.

The Glascock County graduation rate was 81 percent, above the absolute bar set by AYP standards of 75 percent and the state average of 78.9 percent. To calculate the graduation rate, the State of Georgia tracks students entering ninth grade and follows them through high school. The graduation rate is a reflection of those students who graduate on time with their class.

“I am so proud of what our students, teachers, and support staff have accomplished,” commented Glascock County Consolidated School Principal Salley Garrett commented. “The amount of extra time, effort, and dedication required to make AYP is significant. Our staff was up to the challenge and our students performed like champions. The professional learning and leadership team meetings brought us closer as a staff and narrowed our focus on making sure all students succeed.”

“The Glascock County Consolidated School satisfied all AYP requirements for the 2009 school year,” Holton echoed. “The amount of encouragement and support coming from our parents and community propel students and staff to perform at high levels. This is a major accomplishment for our school system, and I am very pleased to see these groups come together as a team and improve student achievement.”



Jordan wins Bartow; Glascock passes SPLOST

By Faye Ellison & Carol McLeod
Staff Writers

Voters turned out in low numbers to area polls Tuesday.

In Bartow, the mayor’s seat and all five city council seats were available.

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Bartow’s mayor will be Hubert Jordan, who won with 73 votes.

Of the nine candidates for council, Fred Evans received 107 votes and will be mayor pro tem. The next four candidates who will be council members are Sally Brooks with 99 votes, Ernest C. “Ken” Smith III with 82 votes, Lee Shellman with 77 and Billy Neal with 69.

In Stapleton, the mayor’s seat and two council members’ seats were available.

June Prescott Rooks won the mayor’s seat with 35 votes.

In the special election for Rooks’ council seat, from which she resigned in order to run for mayor, Helen Landrum won with 42 votes.

In Wadley, Mayor Herman Baker did not have an opponent.

The three council seats went to John Maye with 519 votes, Izell Mack with 460 votes and Dorothy Strowbridge with 374.

The city of Gibson held an election for two council member seats. Those who qualified were Chester Chalker, Carol S. Markins and Stanley Phillips. Chalker received 20 votes, while Markins earned 56 and Phillips 69. Markins and Phillips will hold the two council seats.

Glascock County held an election on Nov. 3 at all precincts for the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

The SPLOST passed with 193 votes yes or 76 percent, while it received 60 votes no. There were 261 ballots cast out of 1,835 registered voters in Glascock County.



H1N1 vaccines available locally

By Jared Stepp
Apprentice

The Jefferson County Health Department has received a shipment of the H1N1 vaccine and will hold a special clinic on Saturday, Nov. 7, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the health department. The clinic is only available to those who are in the following priority groups: pregnant women, people from 6 months to 24 years old, adults age 25 to 64 with underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk of complications from flu, such as asthma and diabetes, health care workers and caregivers of those younger than six months. The H1N1 vaccine is free but those who are on State Health Benefit Plan, Medicaid, or Medicare are asked to bring their cards with them.

The Gibson Health Department also received a shipment of the H1N1 vaccine. The vaccine will be available to the public on Tuesday, Nov. 10 and 17 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Appointments are not necessary. Groups permitted are pregnant women, people six months to 24 years of age, health care workers and emergency personnel, caregivers for children less than six months of age, and people 25-64 years of age with health conditions including COPD, asthma, diabetes, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, HIV/AIDS, steroid treatments, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and CVA/strokes. There will be a $14 charge to administer the vaccine at the Gibson Health Department.

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Claiming over 500 lives in the United States alone, the swine flu has been declared by the World Health Organization as a global pandemic.

Many people have used various methods to keep themselves and their children from getting infected, donning surgical masks and helping to encourage the installment of hand sanitizers in public buildings. Some parents have gone so far as to hold “Swine Flu Parties,” according to U.S. News and World Report. These “parties” are an attempt to pre-expose their children to the mild flu in hopes of building up an immunization for the swine flu, to which doctors say complicate the situation even more.

Health officials have encouraged taking the flu vaccine as a preventive to seasonal flu as well as the swine flu. The Jefferson County Health Department recently offered the seasonal flu vaccine for $25. The Health Department ordered 450 doses of the seasonal flu shot, but only received 350, said Nurse Manager Janet Pilcher.

“It’s coming slower than we thought,” said Pilcher. She said the district office had more of the vaccine in but she hasn’t received any more. Out of the 350 doses received, the Department has given around 300, leaving about 50 doses left.

The swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, is a respiratory infection caused by type A influenza. It is a genetic combination of swine, avian and human influenza viruses that has the ability to spread from human to human. Viruses can be spread through coughing, sneezing and sometimes through touching objects contaminated with the virus. Influenza viruses infect the cells lining the nose, throat and lungs. The virus enters the body through inhalation of contaminated droplets or through transfer from a contaminated surface to the eyes, nose, mouth and hand. Most at risk are swine farmers and veterinarians because of exposure to pigs.

Symptoms develop three to five days after being exposed and could continue for about eight days. Symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting. Anyone with these symptoms should see a doctor immediately.

The H1N1 mist will not prevent seasonal flu; it is suggested to get seasonal influenza vaccine if one desires protection from the seasonal flu. The vaccine is live but weakened so it will not cause illness.

The vaccine, like any medicine can have certain risks. However the risk of serious harm or death is extremely small. Mild problems reported by some people 2-17 years of age include runny nose, nasal congestion or cough, fever, headache and muscle aches, wheezing, abdominal pain or occasional vomiting or diarrhea. Some adults 18-49 have reported runny nose or nasal congestion, sore throat, cough chills and tiredness, and headaches.

Pilcher said there is no charge for the mist, but people are asked to bring their health information to see if they are approved to receive the vaccine. Certain health conditions including but not limited to long time health problems, kidney, heart or lung disease, asthma, diabetes and blood disorders are not permitted to receive the vaccine.

The Jefferson County Health Department is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. until noon. Call them at 478-625-3716 for more information. The Gibson Health Department can be reached by calling 706-598-2061.



Census workers need help

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

A meeting at the Louisville library on Wednesday, Oct. 14, did not attract the number of people expected by census workers.

About 10 citizens attended the meeting, which was on the upcoming census that begins in a few months.

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Henry T. Armstrong III, a partnership specialist with the US Census Bureau, is trying to establish what the bureau calls a Complete Count Committee for each city in Jefferson County.

“We are struggling,” Armstrong said during the meeting. “We need help.”

The committees are made of volunteers who help the bureau make certain every person is counted during the census.

Jefferson County’s response for the last census, which was in 2000, was reportedly 45 percent, Armstrong has said.

Much of the government funding that goes to states, counties and school systems is based on the population determined during the census, he said.

Lil Easterlin, president of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, has pointed out that census information can be a major factor when companies are looking for places to build.

“Companies want to locate in a community that’s thriving,” she said. “They hesitate to commit their resources to a community where the population is getting smaller. It looks as though people are leaving.”

Armstrong has spoken to church groups for several weeks, explaining the importance of the census and that every person in the country needs to be counted. The committees can help make sure that happens.

Armstrong has also spoken during council meetings in different cities in the county.

“It’s real important to get an accurate count,” he said during a recent city council meeting in Wadley. “We need committees to help get the word out.”

Armstrong told the council Columbia County’s response rate in the last census was about 74 percent.

“And you wonder why there’s so much construction going on,” he said. “That’s why.”

Wadley Mayor Herman Baker said one of the problems during the 2000 census was that people did not get census forms.

“I know,” Armstrong said. “That’s why we need these committees, to get the word out and let people know where to go if they need a form.”

Armstrong has also discussed other ways census information has helped citizens.

For example, he talks about a lady in her 80s who was able to get her birth certificate through the Census Bureau in order to get her Social Security benefits.

“The other agencies could not help her family,” he said. “Then her family relocated and contacted the Census Bureau. Someone from the bureau was able to help the family locate her birth certificate through census data.”

Someone from the bureau was able to help the family locate her birth certificate through census data.”

Without her birth certificate, the family wouldn’t have been able to do anything to get the woman’s Social Security started, Armstrong said.

“Another lady wanted to travel out of the country and needed a passport,” he said, adding other agencies could not help her but the bureau was able to help.

“Statistical information is vital,” Armstrong said. “It matters.”

Another census worker said he would like to encourage everyone to complete the census forms.

“It’s safer than ever before,” he said. “Jefferson County needs that money.”

“If they haven’t received their census questionnaire by April 1, they need to contact their Complete Count Committee chairman,” Armstrong said.

In Wadley, the chairman is Albert Samples. The chairman in Wrens is Arty Thrift. In Glascock County, the chairman is Dean Reese.

“We don’t have a complete count committee for Bartow, Stapleton or Avera,” he said. The person who had been the chairman for Louisville recently resigned from that position.

Armstrong said people who receive, complete and return a census questionnaire should not receive a visit from a census worker.

Census workers will be available to assist those who need help.

Armstrong said he has not been informed how that will work.

“That comes out of the operations office and we’re not exactly sure how they’ll do that,” he said.

“We’re looking for active participation from the entire community. It’s just so important that we get everyone involved,” Armstrong said.

“We need help. We are serious about the part of the people here in Louisville, in Jefferson County. The Census Bureau cannot do this by ourselves. It is so critical,” he said.

Armstrong said one estimate is to multiply the number of people not counted by $2,913 to determine the amount of money lost to the community.

“According to a study done by a private consulting firm, Price-Waters-House-Coopers out of Washington, DC, it was estimated that the significant undercount contributed to a net undercount rate of 1.18 percent across the United States,” Armstrong said in a subsequent interview.

“In Jefferson County, of the 17,266 population, there was a net undercount of 493 people,” he said. “So, $2,913 times 493 equals $1,436,109 lost in 2000 for up to 10 years.

“The top eight social programs affected by this loss are Medicaid; foster care; rehabilitation services; child care and development block grants; social services block grants; substance abuse, prevention and treatment block grants; adoption assistance and vocational education basic grants,” he said.

“Jefferson County has several Complete Count Committees chaired by prominent individuals in Wrens, Louisville and Wadley. The community can help by contacting those committees to see how you can contribute to helping to make your community in all of Jefferson County a better place to live and raise a family. But it can’t and won’t happen without an accurate count of the population,” Armstrong said.




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