Richmond County schools to add "graduation coaches"

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August 18, 2006

There's a new coach coming to high schools in Richmond County, but these coaches won't be rooting on the field...they'll be inside the classrooms.

They're called 'graduation coaches', and the idea is to keep students from falling behind.

News 12's Diane Cho is On Your Side with how this new coach could help your child.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires a 60% graduation rate in order to make the grade.

In the Peach State the numbers hover right around there, with Richmond County not far behind.

Graduation is a milestone in life that takes 720 days of anticipation to finally reach. Unfortunately, many of those who walk school halls don't get the chance to walk the stage.

Last year the graduation rates in Richmond County sat just at the state average of 60 percent--Lucey Laney scoring the lowest at 46.5 percent, and Richmond Academy with the highest number of students dropping out.

It's why the school board plans on hiring ten new graduation coaches to make sure at risk students aren't left behind.

"Each student will have a team to work with them, and that team helps students graduate on time," explains Dr. Carol Roundtree, director of guidance.

The new position, mandated by Governor Sonny Perdue and the General Assembly, is designed to decrease the dropout rate across the Peach State.

Initially, Richmond County's board members questioned the likelihood of finding a person for the job at the salary of $40,000, the amount the state is funding for the position.

"We definitely see the need for it, but you also can't attract the person described in job description at the level the states provided," Dr. Roundtree says.

Now that the standards have been lowered to accommodate the salary, each high school will get a new coach to cheer on the seniors.

The role of the new graduation coach is similar to that of a guidance counselor, but the main difference is that the graduation coach will have a smaller pool of students to work with.

Each of the eight comprehensive high schools in the county will get a graduation coach. It's unclear whether the two magnet schools have need of coaches, as they've already got about a 100% graduation rate. There is also a question about whether the state will allow the district to send a coach to the alternative school.