This school or that school? Parents now have a choice - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

This school or that school? Parents now have a choice

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A controversial bill signed by Governor Sonny Perdue will change the way students are educated and give parents more choice in how they are. School zones are now out the door and parents can pick what school they want their children to attend.  

Within the crowded halls of high school are the many dreams of students. "I want to go to Columbia College in South Carolina and major in Forensic Science," said high school junior Asia Woods.

For Woods, those dreams are being planned out in the classrooms of Albany High School.  "I love Albany High," said Woods, "it's like the best school in Dougherty County."

Just as she believes in dreams, she also believes in choice.   She feels she should be able to choose what school prepares her for college. "Because if you feel like the school you're currently attending isn't giving you the educational opportunities you need, of course you should have a choice in whether you want to attend that school," said Woods.

That choice will be given to parents and students under new legislation signed by Governor Sonny Perdue. "We think that choice helps engage students and engage parents," said Dougherty County School System Public Information Officer R.D. Harter.

Right now, the Dougherty County School System already has some choice flexibility at all four high schools with certain honors and magnet programs. Students have to apply and be accepted.  Now, choice options are expanded systemwide. "Initially perhaps we'll have some confusion about it but I think as parents realize what each of the schools offer, they're going to want to put their kids at the best possible school for them," said Albany High Director Of Guidance Patty Akers.

As more parents seek that possibility, it could be hard. The transfers are based on space and the school system is already trying to maximize the student to teacher ratio.

"We're a pretty crowded system and we're looking for ways to be more efficient," said Harter. Some students fear as some transfer, certain Dougherty County schools will see a decrease in the student population.

"Most students these days want to go to Westover and Monroe. I think Albany High is going to really get left out of the loop," said Albany High sophomore Michele Edwards.

Despite the choice, Woods says she's staying put. "Oh no. I'm not leaving Albany High," said Woods. These halls of dreams will suit her just fine for now.

Another restriction is that transportation would not be provided to the new schools. Despite the restrictions like space and transportation, a lot of folks are happy with the change.

Some lawmakers are against it. They say it could have a negative effect on certain schools.

The Georgia Department of Education plans to meet Thursday with school superintendents to start coming up with more specific criteria for the expanded school choice program.

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