Two Dougherty County schools to change mission -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Two Dougherty County schools to change mission

May 15, 2007

Albany --  The Dougherty County School System is in the process of giving two schools more academic freedom. The goal is to make changes to turn the under achieving schools around. Right now, the county has one charter elementary school. There's a plan to continue that kind of education for middle and high schoolers.

About 1,000 students walk through the doors of Dougherty Comprehensive High School each day.  That academic atmosphere could soon change.

"Dougherty High School is in the process of implementing the International Baccalaureate Program, middle years program," said Horace Reid.

Converting to an International Baccalaureate Organization Program means students would go beyond the traditional way of learning.  They'd be exposed to more challenges and cultures. Dougherty High Principal Horace Reid says that involves becoming a charter school.

"You have to have a charter which would give you the flexibility to incorporate the international Baccalaureate," said Reid. Dougherty International Education Middle School also seeks that accreditation. Both schools name low performance as one major factor for the change. School leaders have been trying to find the root of the problem.

"If I could put my finger on one specific reason, I think we just have to look at trying different ways and different strategies to get our kids more involved in the learning process," said Reid.

Take the Georgia High School Graduation Test scores for example.   In 2004, 2005, and 2006, more than 50 percent of Dougherty High Students failed to meet standards in science. During those same years, nearly 40 percent failed to meet standards two years in a row. 

"This program, charter school and the international baccalaureate program will give us that opportunity or at least give us some more insight into what we can do differently," said Reid.

School leaders feel the change is necessary. "Here in Dougherty County there's a need for thinking outside of the box and I think this gives us the rationale," said Reid.

Converting to charter status means schools would develop their own missions. When the mission is won, they say there will be a difference.  Reid says the process involves more than just the schools.

"I'd like to see more parent involvement. I would like to see the community support the things we're trying to incorporate at Dougherty County High School," said Reid.

Although it's a different approach, there's the same goal of educating the students of Dougherty County.

Monday night, the Dougherty County School Board voted to approve $10,000 combined for both schools to go forward with the planning process. They've already petitioned the state for charter approval.  They hope to have that approval by the end of the school year.