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Gainesville schools begin implementing strategic plan
Document identifies areas of greatest need
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• The Gainesville City Schools Board of Education approved a bid of $975,000 by Telecom-Advocates to install wireless access points in every classroom in the district.

The project will not be complete before the beginning of the school year, but work will be done on nights and weekends after school begins.

• In a 4-1 vote, the board accepted a bid to install lighting at the Gainesville High School softball field for $9,479.

Ward 5 Board Member Sammy Smith voted against the bid, by Cornatzer and Associates in Marietta, saying the next lowest bid, for $9,910 by Gainesville-based McArthur Electric, should be favored because the company is local. Smith said in the past the board has accepted bids that were up to 5 percent higher than the lowest recommended bid if the bidder was local.

The rest of the board voted for the bid by Cornatzer and Associates, including Ward 1 Board Member Brett Mercer who said, “We have a fiduciary responsibility. I know it’s only $500, but those $500 add up.”

• Chief Academic Officer Sarah Bell announced the state Department of Education will make data available to help track student, school, and district progress starting Thursday.

The Georgia Student Growth model will use past data from test scores to show growth and provide comparison with similar students, schools and districts. Student-level data will be available to educators, students and parents, while school and district-level data will be available to the public. More information is available at gsgm.gadoe.org.

Jennifer Jacob Brown

Gainesville schools have begun implementing their new strategic plan, and that plan is all about putting district goals in action.

The plan identifies several areas of greatest need — including college and career readiness, graduation rates and math test scores — as well as strategies to address those needs. Superintendent Wanda Creel said school and district officials have begun meeting in work groups to implement those strategies. Separate groups are formed to discuss specific strategies, then the groups come together to see where their ideas connect. The groups began meeting this week.

Creel said the areas of greatest need were identified using data collected over many years, which include test scores, graduation rates, and the College and Career Readiness Performance Index.

Creel said the district is working to place an increased emphasis on college and career readiness. She said it is starting by reviewing all high school seniors’ high school transcripts to ensure they are on track to complete their career pathway goals. The plan includes college and career readiness strategies all the way down to the elementary school level, with a goal of implementing career mentoring programs for all grade levels over the course of the next year.

To improve the graduation rate, Creel said the district is working to identify the student populations that need the most help and is still working on strategies to help those students complete their courses.

There are also plans to provide accelerated math courses at the fifth-grade level. Creel said these courses are already offered at Gainesville Exploration Academy, but the goal is to offer them at all elementary schools in the district. The plan also includes targeted instructional time for areas of weakness on standardized tests.

The district has also created targets for its standardized test scores in the coming year.

Creel said the plan is about addressing goals at the district level, pooling the district’s resources to create improvements for all eight of its schools.

“We are truly trying to epitomize the (idea of) one Gainesville,” she said, “that we’re all working together.”

The strategic plan is available to the public on the school district’s website.

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