The Dawson County school system has begun preparing to set up school governance councils at each of its seven campuses after achieving charter system status in June.
"We are very excited to begin this new chapter in our system and grateful that the State Board of Education has shown confidence that we can wisely use the flexibility that we have been granted," Superintendent Keith Porter said.
The seven-member councils will consist of the school’s principal and two members from each of the following groups: parents, teachers and business community representatives.
Each member will serve a two-year term. The councils will elect a chair and vice chair each year and, among other responsibilities, will assist in determining which state waivers are appropriate and needed.
They will also provide feedback on school improvement efforts and other relevant decisions.
"We will be working on a five-year strategic plan this year, and the councils’ input will be essential to the process," Porter said.
In addition, the councils will help system administrators with recommendations [the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools] made in regard to absenteeism.
According to Porter, the councils can be viewed as a stakeholder that works with administration to provide students with the best possible chance to succeed.
Porter said training for council members will be ongoing, but the initial session will be held Aug. 18, assisted by the Georgia School Boards Association.
Including Dawson County, just 14 systems in Georgia have achieved charter status, which allows greater flexibility to govern local education.
Among other aspects, that flexibility could allow officials to examine new classroom settings, sizes and times, and also broaden curriculum choices and opportunities for students at various skill levels.
In the documentation provided to the state Department of Education, Charter Schools Division Director Lois Erste recommended the local system’s proposal.
According to the document, Dawson County’s model is to "provide quality instruction that results in achievement for all students through flexible scheduling, expanded opportunities for dual/joint enrollment, self-paced curriculum and virtual learning opportunities through full integration of 21st-century technology and the creation of addition career pathways."
On Sept. 13, 2010, the Dawson County school board voted 4-0 to move forward with its charter application. A public hearing followed.