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The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

‘Bibb has been going backwards.’ State chides superintendent on school performance

The Georgia Board of Education put the Bibb County School Superintendent on notice at its committee meeting Wednesday amid significant increase in the number of schools in the county that were federally identified for low academic performance.

Eight of the district’s 33 schools were included on the list received by the state in January, up from five in 2022.

“That’s a huge increase for Bibb County,” state school board member Mike Royal said at the state board’s committee meeting. “I’m frankly shocked to see it on there and I have some questions.”

Superintendent Dan Sims was dialed into the meeting to watch the charter contract renewal for the career center.

Royal asked Sims, “Do you know what percentage of the schools now are on the list?”

Sims said he would “have to pull that list.”

“I don’t have it readily in my head, but we have discussed that as a team,” Sims said. “I don’t know if Dr. Lori Rodgers is on, who may have that readily available.”

“You don’t know that number off the top of your head?” Royal asked.

“Not right now,” Sims replied. “I don’t have the number off the top of my head- the specific number. I just need to pull a document. I just need to find it.”

“I would think that would be a key performance indicator, but that’s a-whole-nother issue, I guess,” Royal said. “Do you know what waivers you’re asking for in this one year?”

“There were a few in our application,” Sims said. “Again, I would need to pull that so I can give you accurate information. Let me see if I can locate it. … It will take me a moment to pull that. I was actually on only for the charter renewal. I wasn’t aware that this was going to be discussed. That wasn’t given to me.”

Royal said, “In fairness, I don’t want you to feel ambushed on here, but I just will say: I find it concerning that you don’t know that information as superintendent off the top of the head. I’m just being 1,000% honest.”

“I appreciate it,” Sims said. “Respectfully, I just don’t have the exact number. I don’t want to give you inaccurate information. That’s the only reason I’m not taking a shot in the dark as it relates to a number. But we have had – we discussed our new federally identified schools at our January board meeting. That’s what I’m looking for. We went extensively through that list and I recall detailed information being shared both with me and the board.”

Sims later said 11 schools were on the federally identified list.

The state board discussed the increase of federally identified schools in Bibb County as it prepared to vote on strategic waiver contracts for school districts across the state at its regular meeting Thursday. The waivers are part of a deal districts make with the state. The state grants flexibility on its rules, for example, class size limits and certification requirements for teachers, in exchange for improved academic performance.

Strategic waivers are the result of a state education overhaul in 2016. The state required all public school districts to choose whether to become charter school systems, strategic waiver systems or remain subject to state rules and regular funding. Most districts, including Bibb, opted to become strategic waiver districts.

Only three school districts across the state were approved for a one-year contract term instead of the typical six-year contracts: Bibb, Richmond and Talbot counties.

Royal said the waivers are “making a contract to do better.”

“I’m just trying to be honest: obviously, Bibb County has been going backwards as far as these metrics go,” Royal said. “I was just wondering what are they promising to do to even get the one year waiver … and the superintendent doesn’t know off the top of his head what that is.”

Royal added that he’s seen “so many great things come out of Bibb County over the years” and was surprised by its current status.

Several on the board discussed a need for the state to better communicate its academic expectations in the waiver contracts with districts.

“I do find it very concerning that a district like Bibb has had the results they’ve had,” Royal said. “By bringing this out and doing it, this sheds light on these issues and we can hopefully move forward in a positive way to make sure these kids are getting the education they deserve.”

The one-year waivers were approved Thursday at the state board’s regular meeting.

The following Bibb County schools are on the list of low-performing schools federally identified for “Comprehensive Support and Improvement”: Appling Middle School, Bernd Elementary School, Bruce Elementary School, Hartley Elementary School, Ingram/Pye Elementary School, Rosa Taylor Elementary School, Union Elementary School and Williams Elementary School.

On another list of schools federally identified for “Additional Targeted Support and Improvement,” Westside High School is listed for its low academic performance among its students with disabilities.

To contact Civic Journalism Fellow Laura Corley, call 478-301-5777 or email [email protected].

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  • A

    April Kelly NealJun 19, 2024 at 9:36 pm

    If Bibb County Schools were private they would be forced to go out of business. We need more school choice so these families can either go other well performing schools within their district or get all the state, federal and local funding so their student can attend private school, or homeschool.

  • G

    Guillermo RamonJun 17, 2024 at 2:13 pm

    I tutor children in Bibb county. They don’t use books, only assignments. They don’t get much work, except for the preparation for the Georgia Milestones. It is very difficult to help them to excel beyond their class because of the lack of books. Go back to using books, even if it is books in a computer format. That way, students can review and or get ahead on their own.

  • J

    Jeff HowellJun 16, 2024 at 9:38 am

    He is too worried about his outfit to be concerned about his job performance. He is an expensive failure to the school system!