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Looking ahead in 2011

By Dr. Bill Truby It’s hard to believe it’ll be 10 years since 9/11 come this September. The world has changed a great deal since that incredibly horrifying day ‘“ and so have our personal lives. Education is often a reactor to what’s going on in the world, especially in terms of technology, business, safety and curriculum. Therefore, it should surprise no one that schools have changed a bit over the last decade. Will 2011 continue that trend? Lamar County schools have done well in technology. Last month at a Georgia School Board Association conference, students from several school districts were asked to pinpoint what they thought could be added to their teaching/learning experience that would really make a difference. To a one, students responded with the desire to have Active Boards in their classrooms. Our contingent looked at one another and said: ‘We’re already there and doing that.’ Keeping up to par with technology is a hard thing to do but it’s essential for quality education and a bright, prepared future for our students. One cannot talk about business without talking about budgets and revenue/expenditures. As I’ve stated many, many times, the state has withdrawn its support for schools in huge amounts. In our little district that sum is over $5 million in very recent years. We’ve cut our expenses to try to keep pace with these austerity cuts but we’ve had to rely on local taxes to help us too. Nevertheless, the millage rate in our county has held steady for four years. It’s lower than many districts in our area. It’s our hope to keep both those facts the same during this coming year. This is in spite of news the governor shared just a few short weeks ago: there’ll be more cuts to K-12 education. Operating the school system is done through state and local tax dollars. The theoretical position established in 1985 is a 60-40 split in responsibility, with the state being the 60%. Today, we see that reversed in many communities and about 50-50 here in Lamar. One saving measure for us has been the SPLOST program that, in addition to big projects like the Fine Arts Center and the stadium, allowed us to improve, renovate and repair our facilities, grounds and transportation. The result is the one cent sales tax allows us to keep our other tax bases lower ‘“ or at the very least allows us to keep our investments in our buildings at a safe and academically sound level. We hope to keep this important part of our planning and budget in place for another five years. We can be proud of our record of having a school system that has few problems in terms of the biggies: gangs, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, fights and the like. People who come to us from other schools are amazed at what we offer and how we take care of things. We aren’t typical in this regard. While we aren’t Eden, it’s encouraging to know we’re progressing wonderfully in positive directions. Our plan is to continue to do so during this calendar year. The ‘real world’ is always changing. For this year, we’re anticipating graduation tests will mesh with End of Course Tests to create new standards for graduation. Charter schools will continue to grow and we hope to have a horse in that race. Experts are questioning the realities of No Child Left Behind. We may see some changes in that program. Standards will continue to rise and Lamar schools will seek to continue its track record of progress in academics, co-curricular activities and extra-curricular competition. 2011 will be a lot like every year ‘“ challenging, changing and filled with hopes for success for our students.

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