WHAT ARE WE GETTING FOR OUR SCHOOL TAXES?
Sept 23, 2021 Schooldigger just published its annual report and ranks Hart County Charter Schools as mediocre at best. Overall the Hart County system is ranked #97 of the 198 systems or exactly mid-point. Sadly, we have fallen 19 positions from last year. Hart school system has been around mid-pack for several years. The high school and Hartwell Elementary are ranked lowest when measured against the neighboring counties. Schooldigger publishes rankings of all public-school systems in every state. The school’s ranking is based on test scores supplied by the Georgia Department of Education. The scores are calculated on an Average Standard Score by normalizing and averaging each school’s test scores across all tests and grades. The average score is then sorted so the school with the highest score is ranked #1, the second highest #2, and so on. Schooldigger calculates school ranking based upon the Georgia Milestones Assessment Tests that include: American Literature and Composition, Algebra 1, Coordinate Algebra, Biology, United States History, and Physical Science. Neighboring Franklin County is ranked #54 and has improved 56 positions. All the Franklin County schools moved very significantly up the rankings, all in triple digits. Franklin County is doing something right. Neighboring Elbert County is ranked #126, but improved 41 positions. The middle school is our star with a ranking of #194 of 540 middle schools improving 56 positions. North Hart Elementary is also above mid-pack with a ranking of #470 of 1208, although giving up 13 positions. Hart Elementary is bad scoring #699 of 1208 schools and losing 81 positions and Hart County High School is even worse, scoring #270 of 409 schools, and dropping 53 positions. The standard responses from the Board of Education (BOE) or these low scores is not acceptable. • “WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY.” Hart County and all the neighboring schools, including those ranked #1 are spending about $8,000 to $10,000 per student per year. Most of the top 10 elementary schools are spending in the $8,000 to $9,000 range. • “WE HAVE A LARGE NUMBER OF DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS.” The only available measure of “disadvantaged” is the proportion of USDA free lunches. Hart County and all the neighboring schools have free lunch in the 58% to 70% range. So, what are we getting for our tax dollars that go to the schools – the answer is, not much? Our school system made a contract with the state for continuous improvement when granted charter status to Hart County Schools. We have not seen substantial improvement since being given the charter status.
The problem lies with the school administration, starting with the do-nothing Board of Education. The board is a wall between the administration and the tax payers. Two board seats will be up for election next year. Mike Buckel