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New school project moving ahead
Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School to be rebuilt by 2013
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Gainesville Schools Board of Education members heard how the construction project of the new Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School is going smoothly.

“We are progressing nicely,” Gainesville City Schools Assistant Superintendent David Shumake said.

An auction of obsolete and unused equipment left from the move of Fair Street to the Wood’s Mill campus was held over the weekend, which raised more than $8,800 for the school system.

Shumake said officials are shooting for the school to be done by August 2013, but realistically the time line will end closer to December. He said the only thing that could throw off the schedule is the City Council meeting on Oct. 18, when council members must vote on the school system abandoning Fair Street.

The board discussed possible issues arising with the increase in numbers of transition students, or those who are new to Gainesville. Including kindergarteners whose families just moved to the area, there are 720 new students right now.

Despite the increase in new students, Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said class sizes are satisfactory. She said though she does not recommend it, enrollment caps could be an option for city schools.

“We did take a lot of criticism on this from Realtors,” she said. “They heard complaints about families having to send kids to three different schools. It’s better to have a family in one school even if it means a class has to have one extra child than before.”

Schools began identifying students earlier to get them access to resources they might need, such as remedial classes.

“I commend the schools for working together quickly to identify who the students were,” Dyer said. “There’s not going to be one thing that we can all do to help. Some newcomers need certain things. We make so much progress with the orientation of newcomers, it’s the academic catch-up that’s our biggest challenge.”

As board member Maria Calkins pointed out, however, the newcomers from the beginning of the year aren’t the newcomers anymore.

“We constantly have newcomers. It’s a moving target,” Calkins said. “I think they’re actually already seeing success from bringing this population separate and sharing the ideas in the room. It’s inspiring. It’s also assimilating them quicker, assimilating them into the student population. We’re helping them with friends and peers and resources. We’re being aggressive on the front end instead of waiting to see if they do or don’t succeed.”

Board members also touched on redistricting at Monday’s meeting.

The Gainesville City Council changed its mind on what redistricting map to endorse. Instead of choosing the school board’s map as originally planned, it switched back to endorsing the one it created.

Board members approved payment for Linda Meggers, formerly of the Georgia General Assembly’s Reapportionment Office, for her work creating the school board’s map. No further action was taken.