New school programs proposed

February 27, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

Washington County Interim Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan is looking into the possibility of creating for the county's public schools programs similar to those offered in private schools as part of an initiative to improve school achievement.

"Why shouldn't we have some of the specialized high-end programs that we associate with the private schools?" Morgan said Thursday in a phone interview. "Our kids are just as capable ... Our kids are just as motivated."

She said such programs would focus on certain subject areas, but the subject areas have not been decided. They might include programs in the arts, technology and math or the implementation of the International Baccalaureate program.

The International Baccalaureate program provides challenging courses throughout students' elementary and secondary years to prepare them for higher learning after graduation.


That program's aim is for students to become critical thinkers, lifelong learners and knowledgeable about affairs of the world, according to its Web site.

Two study groups made up of parents, students, teachers and other community members will research possible programs and suggest those that might be feasible for Washington County, Morgan said. The school system is recruiting members for the study groups.

The groups will begin meeting in mid-March and wrap up the study by the end of May.

One of the goals of the study is to determine ways to give students and parents more educational opportunities and help shape the future of the school system, Morgan said.

The study groups will be broken into elementary and secondary groups. Those groups will then split into subgroups to research program possibilities.

Carol Mowen, the board's public information officer, said the recommendations of the groups may help balance school enrollments and lessen the need for redistricting.

"They may balance out on their own rather than us forcing balance," Mowen said.

That's because the programs would give parents the option to move their children to a different school, if that school offered a program that fits their children's interests, Morgan said. That could help decrease enrollment in overcrowded schools or increase it at under-utilized schools, she said.

Morgan previously had proposed creating a program at Fountaindale Elementary School, that could draw students from other districts. That proposed program might focus on gifted and talented students or the arts, she said.

Morgan said she'll seek grants and ask businesses that have education foundations to help pay for such programs.

"By creating some of these programs, it's really going to bring us up to the next level - where we can achieve a world-class status," Morgan said.

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