2017-10-19 / Front Page

Wilkes schools above state average; vocational diploma need discussed

By JANE ELLYN AARON
news editor

As data for Georgia graduation rates was recently released, Wilkes County was ranked above the state average, as well as being noted for exceeding that of several schools within the CSRA, which was a featured topic of discussion at the board of education this week.

“We are above the state average, and we are continuing to climb,” Superintendent Dr. Rosemary Caddell said. “We’re one of the better ones in the CSRA, so we’re really proud of that.”

Regarding recent statistics on graduation rates throughout the state, Caddell also mentioned that there have been ongoing issues with these rates continuing to increase.

“The state is starting to take notice that in order for the graduation rate to climb there’s just got to be a conversation about going back to vocational diplomas,” Caddell said. “This idea that came about eight years ago – that everybody needed a college prep diploma while we were simultaneously needing skilled workers is in conflict. What they’re also realizing is what we’ve known all along, which is that college prep curriculum is certainly not for everyone, nor should it be, and so there’s a big outcry that we’ve probably reached the saturation point state-wide with the grad rate until something changes.”

Highlighting the great need for more hands-on and manual skill sets to be taught to students, especially those interested in learning from more of a vocational-centric curriculum, Caddell reported that an organization known as the Great Promise Partnership (GPP) is looking at potentially coming to Wilkes County.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs developed GPP to help at-risk students complete their high school education while gaining real-world job skills through partnerships with numerous community and business leaders, so that students might gain the ability to build successful lives and find “a place in Georgia’s economic future.”

Having recently been contacted by Mayor Ames Barnett regarding GPP, the board, along with the city and county governments, are set to meet in order to discuss bringing the program to Wilkes County.

Caddell additionally explained that if GPP were implemented, not only would it fit in well with the work-based learning program and CTAE department, but it would also help to liaison children into the local workforce once they’ve graduated.

In other business, Caddell reported that the system’s audit began Tuesday.

“This is very good that we’re starting our audit,” Caddell said. “Also they are keeping their promise. The Georgia Department of Audits is keeping its promise to us from last year, when we had our back-to-back audits they promised that this year that they would get us early and that we could get on and stay on an early cycle – it’s putting us back where we should be.”

Additionally, all of Wilkes County’s schools are now accredited with quality by the Georgia Crediting Commission.

Board member Ashley Barnett was voted as a “grounds liaison” for the board, to bring outside observations and issues back to the superintendent as needed.

The board voted to purchase a new zero turn lawn mower from Palmer Equipment for $12,645.

The board also discussed the issue of needing acoustical panels in the high school gymnasium, which is reported as being incredibly noisy. Dr. Caddell will soon consult with experts on how to fix the issue in a effective way, and later inform the board on the information she receives and how to proceed in fixing the issue.

The board also set a walk through date at W-WES for November 13.

Additionally, Caddell thanked Wills Memorial Hospital for conducting a health fair during the last in-service-day.

“We really appreciate them doing that,” Caddell said. “Also that morning, Blake Thompson did CPR training for everybody that is not already trained. Our goal in the system is to get everybody CPR trained, and we are very close to meeting that goal. We had a big crowd last year, so they don’t have to be retrained until next year, and of course, all of our athletic coaches are trained since they have to keep that up year to year, but just to have everybody throughout the system certified – in case there is an issue in which we would need CPR – it’s nice to have almost everyone trained. Thanks to Blake for doing that for us.”

Caddell also reported that the W-WCHS/MS band did very well at a marching competition held last weekend, as the students “brought home superior ratings.”

She likewise praised the football and softball teams for doing well in playoffs.

The superintendent also noted that the historic column at the front entrance to the board office has been restored.

The next meeting of the Wilkes County Board of Education will be held on Monday, November 13, beginning at 2 p.m. at the board office.

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