Board to consider charter school, contract with firm for SAT prep course

By Jeffery Whitfield

The Clayton County Board of Education will consider whether or not to allow a local group to open a new dual-language charter school in Clayton County tonight at their monthly meeting. The board is scheduled to consider granting a petition to organizers of the Unidos Dual Language Charter School that, if approved, could lead to the establishment of the school. It is expected to open by the 2006-2007 school year.

Private groups or residents seeking to operate new schools in Georgia are required to gain approval from local board officials to charter a school by filing a petition, according to state law.

The board's regularly scheduled meeting will be held tonight at 7 p.m. at the Clayton County Public Schools Administrative Complex.

The board's Student Achievement and Support Services Committee unanimously voted last week to recommend that the full board consider the petition at tonight's meeting.

The school would offer instruction to students in Kindergarten through grade five and employ a “70-30” language model, which teaches students Spanish 70 percent of the time and English 30 percent of the time.

The total fiscal impact of opening the new school will not be known until the proposal is approved, said Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Pulliam last week at the meeting.

“Parts (of the curriculum) will be taught in Spanish,” she said, though the curriculum would be similar to those at other county schools.

About 160 students could enroll in the school in its first year of operation. Beginning in the second grade all students would receive half of their language instruction in Spanish and half in English.

The board also will consider entering into an agreement with Kaplan to provide a school-based course for SAT preparation for high school students. The Student Achievement and Support Services Committee voted last week to recommend the board consider the agreement.

The course, initially offered last year, would cost the school system a total of $90,750 and be used at eight high schools. The program could serve about 200 students, with one class being held at each school. Each class would be capable of holding a total of 25 students.

Students who attended all of the program's sessions last summer had gains ranging from 73 to 166 points.

Students scores in public schools have steadily declined from a high of 955 in 1997-1998 to a low of 897 in 2002-2003.

Though 2003-2004 scores increased to a system average of 901, they lagged behind state and national averages.

Pulliam could also address the use of her automobile. Last month Pulliam wrote a $3,016 check for damage done to her vehicle while her niece was driving it.