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Sunday May 20th, 2018 5:44PM

Newcomer Academy working; that according to ESOL specialist

By Marc Eggers Anchor / Reporter

GAINESVILLE – Efforts by the Hall County School System to intercept students who are struggling academically because of a language barrier are paying off according to Dr. Anna Sargent, Assistant Director of ESOL/Title III Programs.

Sargent told the Hall County School Board at their work session Monday evening that the first year “Newcomer Academy”, created by the school district to help ESOL students on the cusp of failure, has made a significant difference for all 36 students in the program.

“I am happy to report that all of the students are passing all of their courses, at the Newcomer Academy and back at their home schools,” Sargent said.

Newcomer Academy is held at The International Center at Jones Learning Center in the Chicopee Mill area of Gainesville and involves students from all seven Hall County high schools.  Students spend half of their school day at Newcomer Academy working with instructors and liaisons to provide them with language-specialized education.

“Is this something that these students would be lost without?” school board chairman Nath Morris asked Sargent.

“Yes sir,” Sargent answered.  “They have been lost at their traditional high school which is why there is a need for this.”

Sargent said students who attend Newcomer Academy could be “straight A students” if it wasn’t for the language barrier.  She said the district’s efforts and time invested in these students prevents them from giving up and becoming academic failures.

FY 2019 budget draft to be presented at next meeting

Superintendent Will Schofield said he expected to present a draft version of the 2019 school budget at the next board meeting on Monday, May 21st.

Schofield said that budget will likely include an increase in expenditures of $13.7-million, or 5.74 percent, but an increase of revenues of $14.1-million, or 6 percent.

The total budget will be close to a quarter-of-a-billion dollars.

Schofield said he hopes to have a lower millage rate approved by the board but with increases in property assessments a technical rollback will not likely happen.

“That magical rollback rate that everybody talks about is kind of a Pollyanna-ish figure that hangs out there for a growing school district,” Schofield said.  

“A growing community with a growing (tax) digest means you have more kids coming to school,” Schofield said.

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