Graduation rates improve in Richmond County, statewide

Westside High School is one of many in RCSS showing graduation improvements.
Westside High School is one of many in RCSS showing graduation improvements.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The decision to create an Opportunity School District in Georgia rest in the hands of voters.  Students, however, are already showing improvements in the classroom in the Peach State with graduation rate increases for the fifth straight year. Georgia students jumped from 78.8 percent to 79.2 percent.

Richmond County increased its graduation rate by a percentage point. This improvement just might help the school system dodge a state takeover if the measure passes next week.

We spoke with one local education leader about the secret to the success.

“I don’t believe there is a secret. It just think it’s a bunch of hard work by a lot of educators,” said Scott McClintock during a NewsChannel 6 interview.

Teaching state standards in the classroom is what McClintock believes will help more students get a diploma.

“I love every child that comes in this building,” he said. “…but I don’t want them here more than four years.”

McClintock is in his first year as principal of the Academy of Richmond County. He used to be principal at Westside High School where in 2015 the rate was 80 percent, but jumped to 83 percent this year. Now he’s trying to continue that success in his new job.

“We want them to be ready for either the military, college, technical school, whatever they choose to do, but we want them to be career ready, career and college ready,” he added.

The other factor affecting graduation rate is attendance.

“I’ve implemented a new plan where we are going to, if students have withdrawn from us and we haven’t heard from that student when they’re suppose to be at another school because the school is supposed to request records, if we don’t get a records request within the first month then we are going to contact those people and we’re going to find out where they are,” he explained.

Students throughout Richmond County have a variety of options for learning. McClintock said programs such as Move On When Ready, the Performance Learning Center and the Reaching Potential Through Manufacturing partnerships are avenues for success, a route Georgia State Senator Harold Jones said just might keep all 19 under performing schools in the school system from Opportunity School District’s grasp.

“That’s one of the things that the OSD Superintendent has to look at. What are your improvement plans now?” Sen. Jones, of District 22, said.

And if OSD passes, Sen. Jones said jobs should no be threatened.  He said the OSD Superintendent will first learn about the district then begin talking with staff, but eliminating everyone would be hard because of how much it would cost to bring in new teachers.

He added, “They still are employees of the Richmond County School system. It then would be up to Richmond County to determine what they’re going to do. So to think that it’s going to be mass firings I think is a misnomer.”

ARC is not an OSD eligible school.

We took a look at the three schools that are OSD eligible to see what those graduation rates look like.

Butler High School showed an increase in its graduation rate, while Glenn Hills and Josey both dropped by three percent.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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