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Hall school board OKs new custom courses at Riverbend
Advanced Scholars Academy offers options for accelerated learning
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Hall County parents who want more accelerated learning options for their children won’t have to wait long.

Riverbend Elementary is creating a program of choice called the Advanced Scholars Academy, which was approved at Monday’s school board meeting.

The academy would offer customized schedules and instruction, as well as fluidity within and between grade levels.

“Students will be challenged at their appropriate level and pace,” Riverbend Principal Debra Smith said.

Smith said the program will have a nurturing environment with high expectations. There will also be an aim to “develop the whole child,” she said.

“A major focus at our school will be character development, and it will also include a community service component,” Smith said.

Technology will be another key ingredient of the academy, and students will be trained on some of the latest tools, she added.

With approval from the state, the academy is also willing to provide flexible enrollment for home-schooled students, Smith said.

“The students could get some seat time with other kids and individual learning at home,” she said.

The program, which would begin in 2011-2012, is based on the school within a school model, and families would need to provide their own transportation. Smith hopes to have applications prepared by next month.

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said it was an exciting program, and “different from anything we’ve done so far at the elementary level.”

The school board also approved a new plan for summer school Monday.

In previous years, summer school was held at a central location at Lanier Career Academy.

Eloise Barron, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said participation in the program could be higher if summer school is held at the individual high schools.

“Transportation was an issue for students who live outside the area,” she said.

Barron provided cost estimates for conducting summer school at six locations rather than one. At Lanier Career Academy, the cost for 186 students would be $19,557. At six locations and for 758 hours of instruction, the cost would be $26,151.

The cost includes providing additional instructors, Barron said.

Because students pay tuition for summer school, Barron said a higher participation could also reduce costs.

Summer school begins June 1, and tuition rates will remain the same.