Adding some sarcasm to school issue
July 27, 2013 11:55 PM | 2587 views | 15 15 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

With a heavy heart I relay this information. I really don’t want to, but I feel it is necessary for the good of the families and the pupils of the Cherokee County school system. Or am I just being sarcastic and making fun of Janet Read, the Cherokee County School District chairperson of the Board of Education?

Yes, I am being sarcastic. The BOE is still playing politics while one of every four of its students fails to graduate from the school system. This is an outrage.

The administration and the BOE is not focusing on the problem.

Dr. P and the BOE have proposed to spend almost $403 million next year. And only 72 percent of high school students will graduate. Pickens County schools will spend almost $40 million dollars and 85 percent of their high school students will graduate.

Clearly money is not an issue. Focus is. Every parent, teacher and student should be at every BOE meeting demanding the problem be solved.

Bill McNiff

Nelson

Editor’s note: The actual budget for the Cherokee County School District for fiscal 2012-14 is $496.2 million, which includes the general fund budget of $321.9 million. Pickens County school system has 4,349 students and seven schools, while Cherokee has 39,324 students and 41 schools.

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It's typical
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July 30, 2013
It's typical of the bend-over-backwards CCSD apologists to spin the facts to try and cover for the District's failure to graduate 28% of CCSD students on time.

It's typical but the fact remains the District is basically scoring a D- on the Graduation Rate report card.

What's saddest is that these idiot apologists fail to realize that the extra-time it takes for the 28% to graduate has an associated cost to the taxpayer...a cost that IS NOT factored into the budget.

They'll predictably respond to this with more excuses and insults. It's all they have left at this point.
Beth H
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July 30, 2013
the extra time it costs to educate my son in summer school is paid by ME, at the cost of $300 per 1/2 class. Not spinning facts here - I have the canceled checks to prove it. Dedicated parents working with dedicated teachers to educate students who are not "typical."

I would go on to explain how the Asperger's brain works, how the opportunity to take a hyper-focused class for three weeks has made such a difference in his life, and how the teachers with whom he has worked have been exceptional, but I suppose you'd come up with another label for me.

But I'm just your "typical" parent who cares about my kid and the community in which he is raised.

Have a lovely day.

Cheese Doodles
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July 29, 2013
Bill,

The city of Nelson (both the Cherokee and Pickens sides) require homeowners to own a gun. I'm sure you didn't question the government on that issue. Maybe it's time you moved to the Pickens side, since you seem to be so enamored with it.
another point
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July 29, 2013
Another point to consider when looking at our graduation rate. When special education students complete high school with a special education certificate they are not counted as graduating from high school. It goes in the system as a high school dropout. Now... this is the same for every other county BUT... Let me make this point. Cherokee County has an excellent reputation for special education in the state of Georgia. Many families when looking to relocate in the Atlanta area move to Cherokee county if they have a special needs child because of our reputation. This I feel leaves us with a higher percentage of special education students finishing school in our district (receiving and excellent education!) but not able to pass the graduation requirments due to a cognitive delay. And then this reflects in our graduation rate as reported by the state.

Leah Kelly
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July 29, 2013
I'm at a loss for words. I don't understand why Bill, a neighbor, continues to tear our community, school system, and ultimately our property values down.

If there was truly impropriety going on that would be one thing. However, CCSD conducts its business in a clear and transparent manner.
Getting It Right
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July 29, 2013
Comparing Pickens and Cherokee Counties is like comparing apples and oranges. Every school in Pickens County is a Title 1 school, which means that they received federal funds. "Pickens county in 2012 has 1332 students that are coded economically disadvantaged, English as a second language, or special ed. Cherokee County has 7304. These are the students whose graduations rates are being compared. The CCRPI score (way the state shows progress) are Pickens 77.6 points out of 100 and Cherokee 83.7 points out of 100," (Amanda Wilhelm).

If Mr. McNiff had taken the time to do his research like Ms. Wilhelm on the State DOE website, he could have found this information out for himself.

Josh Markham
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July 28, 2013
The chaos surrounding Kelly Marlow has brought out much nastiness and rudeness from both sides of the debate. Neither side should stoop to simply making fun of those with whom they disagree. Mr. McNiff opens with childishness towards Chair Janet Read. I am not aware of any history between Ms. Read and Mr. McNiff, so perhaps he chose to do that because he is a supporter of Ms. Marlow.

Mr. McNiff claims that because Pickens County has a higher graduation rate than Cherokee then the CCSD is not seeking to focus on the right issues. I was at the meeting when McNiff also made these comments and I believe he left before Dr. P. spoke about some of the things they are doing to improve that mark. It is a concern and should be addressed. However, Mr. McNiff makes no mention of the many other metrics to measure student achievement, which show CCSD students outscoring Pickens in a multitude of ways.

When multiple folks from outside Cherokee County have to come to be brought in to our BOE meetings to stand up for Ms. Marlow and her claims it sends the message that there are not many left in the county who are willing to do so.

McNiff also states that every parent, teacher, and student should be at every BOE meeting demanding the problem to be solved.

I was at the meeting and it was packed with parents, teachers, and students who WERE demanding for the problem to be solved.

It’s just not the same problem that Mr. McNiff sees.

Beth H
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July 28, 2013
Mr McNiff - I'm not sure if you were one of the folks who left early the other evening. I was the last speaker of the night and addressed the graduation figures you cited... Those figures are based on students who attend four years with fewer than two summer school sessions. Here in Cherokee County, we have students with special needs who take longer than four years; we have students who have medical or learning issues who attend summer school more than twice to stay on track; we have students who have experienced trauma or illness or have been retained a grade, but still graduate. These students DO graduate, just not in the traditional four years that are counted toward the "graduation rate" you cited the other evening. I am not a teacher. I, too, am a Cherokee County citizen (22 years) - on the Crabapple side of Canton, as a matter of fact - and the parent of one student who graduated from a CCSD school (and now attends college on scholarships), as well as one student who will graduate next year... with his peers, but not "on time" because he attended three summer school sessions. I hope this helps relieve you of your heavy heart, and allows you to see that yes, the teachers and administrators are working very hard to address the needs of ALL students in our community. There are some very interesting statistics regarding schools, what they spend and how their "graduation rates" are figures. If you truly want to compare CCSD to a comparable school system, you may want to choose for comparison one that does not include a single high school, to compare to Cherokee's eight (yes, eight... in addition to our six outstanding "traditional" high schools, we also have ACE and Polaris Evening School... whose graduates skew our numbers but still are proud to leave with a diploma).

PS - sarcasm is not very becoming, particularly when people are trying to help you understand the facts and you don't want to listen.
Shannon Freunscht
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July 28, 2013
Thank you for pointing out that it is difficult to compare Pickens to Cherokee. They are a great county but with far less schools, far less students, and that makes a difference. Now, as to one in four doesn't graduate, that isn't exactly accurate. This does not take into account the students who have to do summer school or who take four and a half years instead of four to graduate. It doesn't recognize the students who struggle but continue to go to school regardless and THEN reach the goal of graduating. I understand it is good for "politics" to paint Cherokee as less than Pickens but you have to be honest when quoting facts. You have to show the whole picture not just the part that makes YOUR point. It is with a heavy heart that I see someone who tries to manipulate the facts.
Dave Reed
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July 28, 2013
Many thanks to The Editor for attempting to get Mr McNiff's facts at least somewhat accurate. We all appreciate it.

Now, let's talk facts instead of sarcasm. Tea-Party zealots such as the gentleman from the "Cherokee side of Nelson", as he introduced himself at the CCSB Meeting last Wednesday, continue to pound away at the graduation rate in Cherokee County. But they do not tell you the whole story - perhaps they don't know it.

According to the budget numbers, Pickens spends $9,197.52 Cherokee spends $8,162.95 per student. I believe that comes to almost $1000.00 per student more than Cherokee.

Not only that, but lets compare the percentage of students moving on to higher education, percentage of students taking AP courses, number of AP courses offered, and let's remember also that PHS has a student population of 1,202. smaller than the smallest high school in Cherokee County.

Now, we all of course know that a 72% grad rate does not imply a 28% dropout rate as his sarcasm would suggest. Not every student graduates in the conventional 4 years of high school. One of the many benefits of our forward-thinking CCSD is that and Cherokee County provides kids with special circumstances who need more time to still graduate and reach their potential. It also doesn't account for our many special needs kids who are entitled to stay into their twenties as a part of IDEA.

According to greatschools.org, in 2011, Pickens High had 12% of students with disabilities (SWD) to Cherokee County average of 11% (does not include River Ridge). For Pickens that is 144 students to Cherokee's approx 880 (based on 8000 students in high school for 2011, again not including River Ridge). Many SWD do not graduate in 4 years and by law they can stay in school till 22. Cherokee County wants every child to graduate and is okay if it takes more than the traditional 4 years. Some students who do graduate in 4 years are counted as not graduated in 4 years because of the need for summer school.

Again, the gentleman is not looking at the whole picture.

But this is not surprising. This is the same gentleman who stood up and spoke about why Ms Marlow's budget questions were not being answered. Had he stayed, he would have heard that all of her questions HAVE indeed been answered multiple times.

But, he left during the first public statements about the budget and did not stay for any part of the budget discussions or the announcement that CCSB is beginning to return the graduation coaches for CCSD high schools. And that CCSD is returning to a full 180 day school calendar and reduced teacher furlough days from 8 to 3.

I assume that he didn't care to hear any of that or perhaps had a prior commitment and had to leave. Because I would think that he would have found that to be great news for the students on the Cherokee-side of Nelson.

Epic Fail
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July 28, 2013
Thank you for running this letter to the editor. If not for this delusional point of view, the editor wouldn't have had the opportunity to supplement this trash with the truth. The numbers don't lie people, no matter what flavor of tea you drink.
ReasonableCitizen
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July 28, 2013
All of Mr. McNiff's questions and fuzzy math were set straight later in that same meeting. Of course, he did not stay very long past his own public participation so he heard none of the facts.

It is also worth noting that he Mr. McNiff is of an age where he pays no school tax. So...
adw615
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July 28, 2013
In response to the graduation rate comments, I did a little research. If we want to compare the two, there should be some facts known. All of this can be found on the state website. Pickens county in 2012 has 1332 students that are coded economically disadvantaged, English as a second language, or special ed. Cherokee County has 7304. These are the students whose graduations rates are being compared. The CCRPI score (way the state shows progress) are Pickens 77.6 points out of 100 and Cherokee 83.7 points out of 100. Graduation rate only accounts for students that complete within the given four years. If you are going to compare graduation rates it is important to compare school systems with similar subgroups and student make-up.
anonymous
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July 28, 2013
McNiff-

You're wrong as usual. Since you don't pay a penny in school tax, due to your advanced age, please just shut up.
anonymous
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July 29, 2013
HAHAHA!!!
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