Superintendent Laurie Atkins reports on PSD data for 2018
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.