Evening school program cut

By Greg Gelpi

The day is done for Clayton County's Evening High School.

The program, which provides classes to students at night, is being cut to save money for next fiscal year.

Evening High School officials received letters notifying them of the decision to close the program and offering them the chance to apply for other positions within the school system.

Estimates are that between 250 and 350 more students will be unable to graduate each year because of the closing of the Evening High School. Rather than making up classes at night, they will attend summer school or be held back.

"If music can stay and is not necessary for graduation purposes, then EHS should remain a viable part of the education program in Clayton County," Amika Fannin, a concerned parent, said.

Band and music supporters rallied at the March meeting of the Clayton County Board of Education when cuts were considered in fine arts. The board saved cuts to music, but opted for a list of cuts that included the Evening High School.

"That makes me feel awful," Fannin said. "I think we can survive without music."

The parent is circulating a letter to gather support and save the Evening High School.

"The group, seemingly, is not considering the students who will not adorn a cap and gown and walk across the stage and receive a high school diploma," Fannin said. "Why is the Board and its committee trying to make getting an education so hard for the children in Clayton County?"

Evening High School also provides a venue for students transferring from other systems to meet any requirements that may be required by Clayton County schools, but not by their previous school system.

An average of more than 200 students each year have graduated with the help of the school.

The Evening High School charges a tuition of $190 per student and has 664 students enrolled this school year for the first four of five mini-semesters. The enrollment figures swelled to as many as 1,989 last year when tuition was free during a three-year period.

The school board approved cuts throughout the school system in wake of state education funding cuts.

The adjustments cut 51 teaching positions, 44 physical education positions, two orchestra positions and two senior administrative positions.

The action reduces the fiscal year 2005 budget by more than $16 million, while dipping into the system's savings for the difference between the cuts and savings.

Also being affected based on the school system's action are high school advanced placement, extended day, coordinators and area instructional specialists, Starlab teachers and 11 lead teachers.

All departmental budgets were cut by 10 percent. Non- teaching positions would not receive a 2 percent pay raise. Class sizes would be increased to the maximum allowed by the state, which would eliminate 51 teaching positions. School bus purchases from the general budget and new textbook adoptions would be delayed.

If funds become available, Superintendent Barbara Pulliam said at the March 22 meeting that the system will call back some of the cuts based on the new funding.

The Evening High School was established in 1991 as a way to provide remediation classes to students so that they could remain eligible for extracurricular activities and graduate on time.