The following is a letter to the editor provided by Granville County Public Schools.
Letter to the Editor:
Submitted by Dr. Alisa McLean, Superintendent, Granville County Public Schools and Dr. Tom Houlihan, Chairman, Granville County Public Schools Board of Education
Meeting Student/Parent Needs in the 21st Century
We are excited about the future of Granville County Public Schools. However, a critical moment in time is at hand as aging buildings, declined student enrollment, and few instructional options confront us. While student achievement is slowly improving, it still is not at the rate we would like to see.
As such, we know that now is the time for change – BIG change! With new leadership and vision in place, we believe we can make significant improvements for students and families, but it will require support from the entire community. In order to gain this support, we believe it is important that our citizens understand our plan for the future. Here it is in a nutshell:
First, we need to revitalize our school buildings. In partnership with the County Commissioners, we plan to make every one of our schools safe and inviting places to work and learn. Already, $15 million has been promised to assist with this, focusing on critical areas of roofing and HVAC, initially. We hope much more aid will follow to assist with additional needed improvements in security, athletics, and renovations to classrooms and other learning spaces. However, keep in mind this is only one part of the puzzle and this type of funding can only be used for physical buildings. These dollars cannot be used for salaries, classroom supplies or educational programs, which brings us to our next priority – CHOICE!
Our second step in the plan is to expand choices for ALL parents, students and teachers this upcoming school year, in ways that should only minimally impact our budget. For example, offering more “Choice” is always exciting! “Choice” can look like a different school calendar, where students have options to attend either, a traditional schedule, or a ‘balanced’ or year-round schedule. In fact, initial survey and Kitchen Table Conversation information revealed that several parents are interested in a year-round calendar option because of their work schedules and interest in creative solutions for blending academic, enrichment and remediation efforts. Another “choice” could consist of a blend of online and custom face-to-face instruction. As such, the new Granville Academy has sparked some traction, which seems to be a popular consideration for students who learn best that way. We even heard interest from students in schools across Granville County who want to attend the J.F. Webb School of Health and Life Sciences. Thus, this school has been added to the “choice” lineup of offerings for any student in our school system.
We understand that parents have high expectations for their children and so do we. We want GCPS positioned to respond to the needs and desires effectively and efficiently. Therefore, we are working now to make all of these ideas and suggestions a reality in a manner that should only minimally impact our budget. For example, we will ensure teaching positions travel where student enrollment demands. We will also only offer choice options with proper student enrollment. We believe options are good for all and offer opportunities for families to select what works best for their children but affordable “quality” in choice is just as important as quantity.
It is our sincere desire that Granville County Public Schools will, once again, be the FIRST choice in education for all families in our community. By improving the quality of our school environments, expanding choices and increasing academic achievement, we plan to reverse the trend of downward enrollment. This, in turn, will increase state and federal funding to the district. Every student that returns to us from a charter, private school or home school generates about $5500 in lost funds. This increase in funding can then be invested right back into the schools and programs, where it helps our students the most. The more we grow, the more funding we will generate to improve and bring more opportunities, experiences and “choice” into our schools.
Of course, there are many details and complicated issues to manage. We hope you find this summary helpful in describing our strategy for how funding will impact our plans. Further, we hope you will choose to join us in this effort. Please support our local schools. Join our Parent Teacher Organizations, Booster Clubs and School Improvement Teams, just to name a few. Please volunteer today!
If interested in helping us with our new strategic plan, feel free to join us on February 22nd at 6:00 pm at the Masonic Home for Children. Come visit and see us in action! Also, our doors are open all month for school tours by appointment. We look forward to serving everyone.
Thanks to all who continue to support our schools and we pledge to bring “choice” to raise student performance in the most cost-efficient way we can. Our district leadership and Board of Education will expect no less. Our hope is that you will join us in embracing our new motto, “Committed to Excellence and Achievement for All!”
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