On April 25, DCSS staff recommended that the Dougherty County Board of Education realign schools across the district to better allow students to progress along a track that supports and fosters academic success; school climate and culture and academic excellence.
This move will create a true elementary-to-middle-to-high feeder system where school principals could work together in clusters to address their similar needs and opportunities in an effort to create new student opportunities and grow students inside the classroom and out.
It will also repurpose Albany High School into a multi-purpose facility that will house the offices currently at Walter Judge Academy, our GLRS facility and ESP Center.
The decision to realign our schools and move to a three-high-school model wasn’t made lightly. To put it simply, our student enrollment simply can’t support four high schools and Albany High’s enrollment remains far behind that of the other schools. Repurposing that building will allow the district to consolidate programs and offices into one, centralized facility that will maximize efficiencies to the district, while strengthening both academic and athletic programs at the remaining three high schools.
You can view the full presentation below.
1. How can there not be a plan B or other options?
This process began in April 2016 with the primary focus being the DCSS middle schools. As the process developed, DCSS high schools were also reviewed. Multiple options were considered, including maintaining four zoned middle and high schools.
After giving objective consideration of all options, however, the option proposed to the Board of Education and posted on the DCSS Website is the one the DCSS administration feels is the best option moving forward.
Why is Robert Cross not a feeder school?
Robert Cross Middle Magnet School was established as a district-wide middle school.
2. How much money is in the reserved funds?
It is projected that the DCSS will end the current fiscal year with approximately $10.5 million in General Fund reserves.
Can the funds be used to keep Albany High open?
Reserve funds could be used to keep AHS open. As explained during the public hearing, however, the continued use of reserve funds to make up for shortfalls in current year revenue versus current year expenditures is not prudent. That path is unsustainable, as the reserve funds would eventually be depleted. This would only be a temporarily delay the closing of a DCSS high school. Additionally, with the depletion of the reserve funds, the entire DCSS would be placed in a much weakened financial position, as those funds would no longer be available to address one-time and/or short-term financial needs.
3. What happens to Robert Cross?
Robert Cross would remain unchanged.
4. Will the career paths be offered at other high schools?
Career Pathways currently offered at AHS will be offered at other sites within the DCSS.
5. Will parents will have a choice in which high school the rising seniors attend?
This issue has not been addressed by the BOE; however, DCSS administration is not opposed to allowing would-be rising seniors at AHS to choose the high school they attend their senior year. If approved, this would have to be based on availability of space at the desired high school.
6. Why Albany High and not Dougherty High School?
With a significant percentage of the DCSS population living in east Albany, a high school is needed on that side of town. The DCSS administration has determined that, because DHS is the only high school located in east Albany it is better positioned logistically and because of the recent capital investment in the building of over $25 million, DHS should remain open.
7. When will the proposal take effect? 2017-2018 school year?
The Board of Education has not decided whether to close AHS. If the BOE chooses to close the school, it would decide at that time whether to make the closure effective at the end of the 2017 school year, at the end of the 2018 school year or some other time.
8. Why was the announcement issued at a stressful time for the students?
The timing of the announcement was a result of when the information needed was available and ready to present. Ideally, the timeline for the announcement would have been between January and March. The actual time of the announcement was later than desired time due DCSS priorities shifting from further analysis of the various options to storm relief efforts, as a result of the storms in January.
9. What is the reason for the mass exodus of students?
As mentioned in the presentation, enrollment in the DCSS has fallen over 2,200 students since 2004. Likewise, the population of Dougherty County as a whole has fallen significantly during that period. We can only speculate regarding why population and enrollment is declining.
10. Why not phase Albany High out?
That option has been considered; however, this would result in a significantly reduced number of students attending AHS during the phase-out period. The significantly reduced enrollment would result in an inability to offer a sufficient array of academic classes, as well as sustain a viable extracurricular program.
11. What will happen to scholarships for athletes?
Student-athletes who transfer to another high school would be eligible to compete on the teams at his/her new zoned school.
12. And what will happen to class elections?
The leadership at each remaining high school would be empowered to decide how it would handle class elections; but they would be encouraged to incorporate elected officers from AHS in the student leadership of the school.
13. Why not close an elementary schools since we have so many?
The occupancy rate for DCSS elementary schools is over 90%, which is a healthy percentage. Conversely, the occupancy rates of DCSS middle and high schools are 75% and 75%, respectively. The issue with occupancy is at the secondary level, not the elementary level. Closing an elementary school would not address the issue.
14. Why not have two high schools instead of three?
The three remaining high schools would have ample space to accommodate the number of DCSS high school students. In order to accommodate the number of current DCSS high school students in two schools, a significant capital investment would be needed in two of the current high schools; or, acquisition of new property and the construction of two new high schools would be needed. Additionally, the investment needed would range from approximately $60 million for the renovation of existing schools to approximately $180 million to build two new schools. In addition to the extensive capital investment, either of these solutions would result in the vacating useable space at one or three of our existing high school buildings.
15. Where can we find the proposed changes to the school zones?
A map overlaying the current and proposed high school zones was included in the initial presentation and posted on the DCSS website in an attempt to clearly show the differences in the current and proposed zones. We will attempt to provide further clarity in updated maps that will be enlarged and show street namges.
16. What happens to the Honors Magnet?
The Honors Magnet would be moved to another high school.
17: Where is the research that shows the information about the direct feeder pattern that is working?