News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011
WARRENTON, Ga. -- News 12 has been following the accreditation controversy in Warren County since January 2010 when the school system received a 16-page report from the Southern Accreditation of Colleges and Schools.
The report discussed illegal hiring talks, mistrust between the system leaders and bad behavior by members of the school board. A month later, Gov. Sonny Perdue stepped in to assign two liaisons to work with school leaders to fix the problems.
Last August, Perdue removed three school board members: Clara Roberts, Cecil Brown and Charles Culver. The governor said they violated the Code of Ethics. Those three board members have since been replaced.
SACS gave the school system their accreditation back in June, saying the leaders made the necessary changes.
Students in Warren County start school Friday, and leaders in the school system say everyone is prepared for a fresh start. The maps are up and the bulletin boards are decorated. It's time for a new school year.
Superintendent Carol Jean Carey says recent improvements system-wide have set an exciting new tone.
"We are so excited we're starting our school year with our accreditation from SACS fully restored," Carey said. "We just feel so good about that. Our new board works together with me and with the administrators. It's just the best situation we've had in a long time."
Along with the new year comes a new principal, too. Kaveous Preston has been relocated from Paulding County, Ga., and already has big plans in store for the "Devils" at Warren County High School.
He's says it's extremely important they're starting the year with their accreditation restored.
"Because if we're not accredited, we may loose kids to other schools. We don't want that," Preston said. "We want our community to be proud of the school that's within this county."
Despite rising concerns last year among parents and students, Warren County High School demonstrated improvements in its academic categories. The school did not meet AYP overall, though, because of graduation rates.
"In small systems," Carey said, "One or two students make a lot of difference. So the difference in a 68 percent graduation rate and a 76 percent graduation rate might not be but three students."
Nonetheless, she and Preston are making graduation rates a priority for the 2011-2012 school year.
Preston has decided that high school students will no longer be referred to as freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors. Instead, they'll be referred to only as their class graduation year.
"You can call a kid a freshman. He can be a freshman for three years. But he can only be the 'Class of 2015' one time!" he said. "Graduation is a four-year plan. Not a five-year plan. We want them to know what year they graduate."
Warren County Elementary School did not meet AYP requirements because of math scores. However, Carey says the middle school continues to meet requirements.
"When we looked at the list of schools that are high-poverty, we're the only middle school that's made [AYP] nine years in a row," she said.
Carey said they plan to completely renovate their former high school building and transform it into the "Career Academy" for dual-enrollment students with Sandersville Tech.