Dougherty County School System

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School Realignment Information

New Information has been added below!

 

 

 

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. 

 

The Dougherty County Board of Education voted on June 6 to implement the realignment plan for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year.

 

This page will be updated with the latest information for parents and the public as the transition moves forward.

 

 

NEW: Zoning maps have been updated on the DCSS Website to reflect changes to the middle and high school zones. A video showing how you can verify your school zone has been posted below. You can view that information here: http://www.docoschools.org/apps/pages/zoning 

 

 

 

 

Student Letters

The Dougherty County School System is sending out letters to students who may have been impacted by the attendance zone changes with instructions on how and when to come to the DCSS Administration office and verify residency. For your convenience, the letters have also been posted below, along with the Residency Verification Form which must be signed at the DCSS Zoning Office at 200 Pine Avenue.
 
NOTE: If you received a letter, you don't have to bring anything other than a current utility bill. All other student records and immunization records aren't necessary. 
 
You check and see if attendance zone has changed, by visiting our zoning section here: http://www.docoschools.org/apps/pages/zoning

Dougherty County School Magnet Programs & the Realignment

The Dougherty County School System offers several magnet programs and fundamental magnet schools. Our two fundamental magnet schools, Lincoln Elementary Magnet School and Robert Cross Middle Magnet School, along with our elementary charter school, International Studies Elementary Charter School, won't be impacted by the realignment. Students still must complete the entrance requirements for all three schools regardless of school zone. 
 
The magnet programs that were previously at Albany High School -- Honors, Law and Multimedia -- are moving to Dougherty Comprehensive High School, along with much of the faculty who make them such outstanding programs. The magnet program at Southside Middle School -- Pre-Engineering -- is moving to Radium Middle Magnet School of the Arts, which will now become a "STEAM" school, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. This transition supports the "STEM" magnet program at Monroe Comprehensive High School.
 
The magnet programs at Westover Comprehensive High School -- Medical Arts and Honors -- and its feeder Merry Acres Middle School -- Medical Arts -- won't be impacted by the realignment. 
 

 

Questions posed from First Public Hearing:

Below are questions asked during the first public hearing with answers supplied by the district.

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?
The document included in the attached file below (Solving the High School Graduation Crisis: Identifying and Using School Feeder Patterns in Your Community) is produced by Johns Hopkins University, The United Way Worldwide and Civic Enterprises. Click here to view the study.

 

 

 

 

 

Questions and Answers from the May 23 Public Hearing:

1. Why are there 7 temporary buildings at Albany High?
The modular units at AHS were placed there to accommodate programs housed, or once housed, at AHS (i.e. PALS and Albany Early College).
 
2. Why does DCSS need a conference center when there are other options in the city (i.e. Civic Center, Albany Municipal Auditorium, etc.)?
The recommendation to close AHS is not so that the DCSS can have a conference center; there are other factors that have led to that recommendation.  Closing AHS, however, would create an opportunity to consolidate several administrative functions currently housed in three separate buildings.  It would also provide the opportunity to expand the conference space currently available at the Walter Judge Academy.
 
3. Why Albany High when the crime is down and students have turned things around?
The quality of education offered at AHS is not in question; there are other factors that have led to the recommendation to close the school.  The primary factor is a significant decrease in district enrollment has led to nearly 25% of the available seats in high schools being vacant. 
Also because of the enrollment decrease, the DCSS does not have enough high school students to support four high schools.  As such, a larger percentage of the operations of AHS would have to come from local funds, of which the primary source is property taxes.
 
Over the last 10 years, property tax revenue has declined by approximately $4 million, with a decrease in FY2018 over more than $300,000 when compared to FY2017.  Simply stated, the current path is financially unsustainable.
 
4. When will Albany High close?
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.
 
 
5. How and when will parents be notified of the closure?
The Board of Education has not decided whether to close AHS.  If the BOE chooses to close the school, notification will be provided by press release, the DCSS website, email and a letter to the home address on record for each student and any other method deemed necessary.
 
6. Where will his granddaughter go to school if Albany High closes (lives on Mercer)?
The proposed re-zoning plan establishes Pine Avenue and the Flint River as the boundary between Monroe High School and Dougherty High School attendance zones (except for that portion of the current Dougherty High zone that is adjacent to Radium Springs Middle School), establishes the rail line as the boundary between the Monroe High School and Westover High School attendance zones, and establishes Slappey Boulevard and Palmyra Road as the boundary between Dougherty High School and Westover High School.
A map of the proposed school zones is located here.
 
 
7. Will his granddaughter be able to continue in the Emergency Medical program and where will it be located?
Yes.  The Career Pathways currently offered at AHS will be offered at other sites within the DCSS.
 
 
8. Why are students and parents not involved in the phasing out plan?
The Board of Education has not decided whether to close AHS; however, the decision making process includes Public Hearings.  These Public Hearings are a way for the BOE to  involve students, parents and the community at-large.
 
9. Why not 3 or 4 years ago?
The DCSS conducts an enrollment/occupancy analysis periodically, based on the current circumstances and outlook for the school system. The last occupancy student was conducted approximately five years ago and resulted in a recommendation to close three schools (two elementary and one middle).  At the time, the high school enrollment could not be supported by three high schools without overcrowding.  The current study, however, indicates that existing high school enrollment could be accommodated by three high schools, as over 1,200 (almost one out of four) seats in DCSS highs schools are currently vacant.
 
10. Has someone thought about the bullying that could take place?
Yes and a plan is being developed to provide additional security and oversight due to the increased student population, should the Board of Education chooses to close AHS.
 
11. Why does the board project the drop rate verses projecting increase in student enrollment?
The enrollment projections sited in the School Realignment are from the Georgia Department of Education and they are based on historic enrollment trends and projected population shifts throughout the State of Georgia.  Enrollment in the DCSS has fallen by 2,208 students since 2004, with projections to drop an additional 141 students per year at least through 2019.
 
12. Has the system gone to court with regard to the federal injunction to have it lifted?
No, but the DCSS fully intends to comply with all Federal notification requirements.
 
13. What is the rush?
There is no rush. 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.
 
14. Why can’t custodians get wax for the school?
Custodians can get wax for AHS, just as they can for any other school in the DCSS.
 
15. Could you close Albany High gradually?
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.  A phased approach to closing AHS would be an option considered.
 
16. Is the school system looking at the bigger picture?
The School Realignment Proposal is a “big picture” proposal, resulting from a comprehensive enrollment/occupancy study.  The study looked at enrollment trends, enrollment projections, occupancy of schools by sector, zoning patterns, alignment options, as well as the potential educational, social and fiscal impacts.
 
The recommendations made by the consultant and the DCSS administration would not only result in a school system that is more operationally efficient; but also one with a the three-high-school, direct-feeder model that would allow school and other service providers to use a more stream-lined, systemic approach in meeting the needs of our current and future students.
 
17. Are we prepared for the aftermath of mixing gangs?
The security of the students, employees and visitors of the DCSS is of the utmost importance.  Several discussions have been held with representatives from various law enforcement agencies to discuss the possible issues related to the proposed zoning changes.  A plan is being developed to provide additional security and oversight due to the increased student population, if the Board of Education chooses to close AHS.
 
 
18. What other schools will offer the career pathways?
Career Pathways currently offered at AHS will be offered at other sites within the DCSS.
 
19. Who chose the company to complete the study?
The DCSS has been working with the urban planning consultant leading the effort with the realignment study since 2001, as approved by the DCBOE at that time.  The DCSS has used the services of this urban planning consultant in every major realignment and facilities master planning effort, since the original engagement. 
 
20. Are there any board affiliations with the company?
No, there are no BOE or other DCSS affiliations with the company.
 
21. Cost to pay for assessment?
Since May 2016, Kimley-Horn & Associates has been paid $17,599.30 for all services rendered to the DCSS, including work on the realignment study.
 
22. How many middle school students are enrolling in high school?
The number of 8th grade students during the 2016-17 school year was 942.
 
23. Why do students exit at middle and high school level?
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 as also fallen significantly during that period.  We can only speculate regarding why population and enrollment is declining.
 
24. Explain the funding for students under 970 FTE.
The funding formula for public schools in the State of Georgia sets a base size for schools.  The base size for a high school is 970 full-time equivalent students and funding is allocated on a per FTE student basis.
 
25. How do Class A schools get state funding?
Class A schools get funded using the same funding formula as other public schools in Georgia.  Usually, to accommodate the prorated funding received, the buildings used to house those schools are usually smaller.  In some cases school systems with much smaller enrollments combine high schools with middle schools, with some even having grades K-12 in one building.
 
26. What happens to the abandon buildings?
The plan is to demolish the buildings for which the DCSS has no intention to use in the future