To some people, it was a pretty drastic move. Ninth graders, who had been going to junior high schools, would instead all go to a single Ninth Grade Academy. The Academy would be created by converting a rather new elementary school to that use. The students from Richmond County Primary School would then be reassigned to other elementary schools.
A lot of people didn’t like it. Few of us like change, and to many this was a change for the worse.
The Richmond County school board had studies to back up why the change was worth the pain. Ninth graders are at a pivotal year of their life. Many thought, and still do, that if you’re going to move the ninth graders to a new location, it should be adjacent to the high school.
But one thing that we hope everybody can agree on, is that Richmond County has been able to make a serious dent in its dropout problem. The credit is being given to the Transitional School which was formed as a result of the realignment.
The dropout rate in Richmond County Schools has fallen 33 percent in the past two years. Administrators attribute a lot of the decrease to the schools realignment plan which gave students other options.
But school officials aren’t finished. They’re still working at ways to reduce the rate even more. A summit meeting for a five-county area was held this month at Richmond Community College to compare notes and find ways to cut the number of kids who quit school.
One is a program called Communities in Schools. It establishes after school programs, school supply drives, computer learning centers in underdeveloped areas, mentors and graduation programs to help students in schools.
Maybe it’s another tool in the tool box that educators can use.
One factor everyone should consider is that for every student that drops out of the system, that is a person who will have a seriously hard time reaching his or her potential. They won’t be able to find a good job and if they do, they won’t be able to advance and grow as fast as a student who does have that diploma in hand.
Richmond County taxpayers can pay now, to keep that child in school or we can pay for a lifetime in the form of social programs, the judicial system and lost potential. We never advocate just throwing money at a problem, but if the realignment can be credited with a drastic drop in the dropout rate, it was money well spent.