Su­per­in­ten­dent Lau­rie Atkins re­ports on PSD data for 2018

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Sean Wil­liams Swilliams1­[email protected]­hoo.com

Polk County schools re­cently be­gan their sec­ond se­mes­ter of classes, and with 2018 wrapped up, Su­per­in­ten­dent Lau­rie Atkins of­fered a re­flec­tion on some of the high­lights and sta­tis­tics from the year.

In ev­ery­thing from at­ten­dance to grad­u­a­tion, the info shared was mostly pos­i­tive for the pre­vi­ous cal­en­dar year, even in com­par­i­son to sur­round­ing schools in the re­gion, statewide and across the coun­try.

“I saw this at an­other school district and re­ally en­joyed look­ing at it,” Atkins said. “We now just tipped over into 2019, so let’s look at a re­flec­tion of 2018 for Polk School District.”

Polk’s ra­tio of 1 teacher for ev­ery 15.3 stu­dents—there are 7,936 stu­dents be­ing taught by 518 teach­ers across 10 schools—per­forms well even when com­pared to the na­tional av­er­age of 1 teacher for ev­ery 16.3 stu­dents. This ra­tio, as re­ported by the Na­tional Cen­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion Sta­tis­tics, means Polk could po­ten­tially take ad­van­tage of the numer­ous ben­e­fits that of­ten come with smaller class sizes.

The Cen­ter of Pub­lic Ed­u­ca­tion cites numer­ous well-doc­u­mented stud­ies of smaller teacher-stu­dent ra­tios in­side classes, men­tion­ing that smaller classes can boost stu­dent aca­demic achieve­ment and mi­nor­ity and low­in­come stu­dents show greater gains when placed in smaller classes dur­ing the pri­mary grades.

Those in­ter­ested in the stud­ies and sta­tis­tics can do ad­di­tional read­ing at https://nces.ed.gov/ and http:// www.cen­ter­for­pub­lice­d­u­ca­tion.org/.

“We have 600 cer­ti­fied staff mem­bers and clas­si­fied 322,” Atkins said. “Out of that, 518 teach­ers and 35 ad­min­is­tra­tors.”

At $8,530, Polk School District is mostly in line with the state’s av­er­age per-pupil ex­pen­di­ture of $9,202, but lo­cal schools also re­main in the Com­mu­nity El­i­gi­bil­ity Pro­vi­sion (CEP) which al­lows stu­dents to re­ceive free break­fast and lunch with­out filling out ap­pli­ca­tions.

The 1 per­cent SPLOST also sees ex­tra money spent on Polk schools and their stu­dents. In over­all fi­nances, the district was given a fi­nan­cial ef­fi­ciency rat­ing of 3.5 of 5 stars and an AA+ for Stan­dard and Poor’s Credit Rat­ing.

Polk’s 2018 grad­u­a­tion rate is listed at 81.3 per­cent; Ge­or­gia’s is listed at 82 per­cent. This would be the first time in the last three years lo­cal schools have dropped below the state av­er­age, but at 1.77 per­cent, Polk’s dropout rate is sig­nif­i­cantly lower than the na­tion’s av­er­age of ap­prox­i­mately 7.4 per­cent.

There were also 324 undu­pli­cated stu­dents in Dual En­roll­ment cour­ses that earned 8,299 col­lege hours in the 2017-2018 school year.

Safety was a prom­i­nent is­sue for the school board dur­ing 2018. The newly cre­ated Polk School District Police Force now has a police chief, two lieu­tenants, and six of­fi­cers.

SPLOST funds were used to up­grade door locks, ad­di­tional fenc­ing, cam­eras, and glass en­try­ways, and each school has a safety team that meets monthly to ad­dress the safety needs of stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff.

“We have re­ally had a fo­cus on that (safety) in 2018,” Atkins said. “I’m very proud to have a board that re­ally sup­ported that chal­lenge.”

Polk also saw high at­ten­dance rates dur­ing the year, with a 93.8 per­cent at­ten­dance at the ele­men­tary level, 95.3 per­cent at the mid­dle school level, and 93.7 per­cent at the high schools.

On a dis­ci­plinary level, with the per­cent­ages be­ing based on sus­pen­sions of 10 days or less, were 5.6 per­cent at the ele­men­tary schools, 7.7 per­cent at the mid­dle schools, and 6.5 per­cent at the high schools.

The district’s pri­or­i­tized chal­lenges for 2018 through 2021 are listed as pro­vid­ing a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and en­vi­ron­ment for all stu­dents to ad­vance as in­di­cated by stu­dent achieve­ment mea­sures; meet­ing the unique aca­demic, re­source, and sup­port needs of all schools; at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing ef­fec­tive teach­ers, lead­ers, and pro­fes­sional per­son­nel to meet the pro­jected stu­dent growth for Polk, the ag­ing work­force, and cur­rent staffing deficits; en­sur­ing the fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity of Polk School District schools de­spite the un­sta­ble and un­pre­dictable rev­enue growth; and en­sur­ing the safety and se­cu­rity of all stu­dents and em­ploy­ees.

Those in­ter­ested in more of the sta­tis­tics dis­cussed can visit https://sim­bli.eboard­so­lu­tions.com/Meet­ings/At­tach­ment.aspx?S=4131&AID=1016681& MID=75659.

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