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Lee considering MCLB students

ALBANY, Ga. — The Lee County Board of Education is considering an admissions policy change that would allow children of active duty service personnel living on Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany to attend Lee schools.

“We have a policy of non-resident students in the Lee County,” Lee Superintendent Larry Walters said Friday. “However, there is a great sense of patriotism in Lee County and that’s why we are considering a policy change to allow dependent children of active duty military serving on the Marine base into our schools.”

The proposed policy change, which will be voted on at either the next board meeting in September, or at an earlier called meeting, reads:

“Children of active military personnel living on the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia will be allowed to attend school in Lee County on a space available basis by paying tuition to be set and determined by the board. Available space will be distributed in accordance with the order of the applications submitted.”

According to MCLB-Albany Educational Liaison Dana Wallace, there are 112 children school-aged children currently living on the base.

Those children are zoned in three Dougherty County School System schools — Radium Springs Elementary, Dougherty Middle and Dougherty High.

Walters said if the policy change passes, the Lee system would accept the base’s K-12 children for an annual tuition fee of $1,504.50 each.

Wallace said that 50 of the base’s children are currently attending Worth County schools with no tuition charged.

“We think this (Lee policy change) would be a great opportunity for our families who want choices in education,” Wallace said. “The cost is very reasonable and Lee is a very good school district.”

Walters and Wallace said that if the BOE passes the policy change there will not be much movement in the current school year, which started this month.

“We probably won’t see much movement this year because school has already started,” Walters said. “But even next year I don’t think we’d be talking about very many students.”

Wallace agreed.

“I’m not sure we’d see many moves this year, and overall it would be hard to estimate how many would switch schools, if at all,” said Williams.

Should any MCLB-Albany parents decide to move their children to Lee County schools, state average FTE (Full time equivalency) money, $4,290.14 per child, would follow the student.

Comments

whattheheck 2 years ago

If Lee has such a sudden "sense of patriotism", after only 60 years since the Base opened, why is the policy limited to on-base students? One would think it would extend to all military dependents including those living off base, in a sense of fairness.

Rather than a sudden patriotic urge by Lee, it sounds like parents of children attending some of the "worst of the worst" DCSS has to offer have finally had their fill and the base initiated the "feeler" to Lee. I don't think patriotism on anyone's part is a consideration here--it is a matter of parents wanting a better education for their children. That I can fully understand. But you know, so do the parents of those living in DoCo.

Lee spends $2,236 in local money on each child in the system. Allowing non-resident children, military connected or not, to attend its schools for $1,500 is a real bargain these days. Normally, all living in Lee, including those with no children, have to pay their part of the local money every year to support schools. So, as one who has contributed property taxes to the $2,236 share annually for 30 years, I can't help but wonder "Why are we really doing this"? It is not driven by a "spirit of patriotism" suddenly aroused after 60 years!

We don't seem to have the full story from behind the base fences. There is no doubt in my military mind that this is an indictment of the DCSS, with cause of course. And if so, it is time for the DCSS to clean its skirts since quality of life for the military will play a much larger role in the next BRAC. After all, the Base is one of Albany's oldest and largest employers still with us for the moment.

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Shinedownfan 2 years ago

I think Larry Walters was trying to think of a good excuse to take the MCLB students without slapping DCSS in the face. He knows how important the Base is to this area. I attended Do. Co. Schools grades 1- 12 over 20 years ago, but who would want to go there now?

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chinaberry25 2 years ago

Now, I am going to take up for Radium Elementary. It is a very good school. The other two is debatable. Mock Road or International school of studies is good too and Magnet schools are good. That only leaves high school. The military dependents are not going to pay $1500/yr when they can go for free to Worth. This is news to me that Worth even takes them. That is a slap to DCSS. Goodbye base.

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whattheheck 2 years ago

If the DCSS were working out for the parents, 50 would not be making the long haul to Worth. And if Worth were meeting the need, Lee would not have come into the picture at all. It certainly isn't a matter of distance since Lee is likely even further. I assume the Base is providing the transportation as it did for years for those in private schools. Regardless, DCSS is not looking well in parent's eyes for the issue to even surface.

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FlunkyMonkey 2 years ago

Who said Worth wasn't meeting the needs of these students? Maybe Lee County's arrogance and greed is showing again. Maybe they can't handle the competition from Worth County....

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SalukiGrad 2 years ago

Wait...there is room in the Less County School system? During talks about an apartment complex they tried to make the schools an issue. When will politicians in Lee County quit lying and tell the people the truth?

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whattheheck 2 years ago

Crowding is only an issue when govt wants--or doesn't want--to do things. It justified building a new school as shown in a Jan 2012 Herald article:

"The new $14 million, 112,000-square-foot school, which is being funded by a special 1 percent local education tax and some $4.5 million in state funds, will allow county officials to alleviate substantial crowding at Lee County Middle School. That school, which houses all students in grades 6-8, is nearing capacity with almost 1,600 students, according to school officials."

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Shinedownfan 2 years ago

Since Lee County opened the 9th grade campus, students and teachers can now actually walk the halls at the high school.

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dingleberry 2 years ago

Good post. The apartment complex would add 160 students, "one years normal growth" in the school system. These students would have to be educated in the system, which was being gagged at, yet Lee volunteers to take on more children it has no responsibility for? What are we missing here?

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rightasrain 2 years ago

If a politician's mouth is moving, he/she is lying. Period.

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Cartman 2 years ago

Good intentions with a weak cover story. Why not just spit out the truth? Did some MCLB parents approach LCS board? I could certainly see myself seeking an alternative from sending my kids to DCSS. Nothing shameful in telling the truth.

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dingleberry 2 years ago

I used to think the same about truth until I see those who would climb a tree and tell a lie before they would stand on the grown and tell the truth. As with the X-Files, the truth is out there somewhere, but where is it?:)

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dingleberry 2 years ago

Good grief, Mama, those base kids got money tied to them combat boots! Eventually, all things get to money and it's number crunching time. The below is FY 2011 FTE rate per student reported by the GA School Super:

DoCo Local $2,732 State $4,813 Federal $1,417 Lee $2,236 $4,523 $ 683 Worth 2,127 $4,963 $1,218

Who are the winners and losers? Well, from DoCo's perspective, nothing may be lost since DCSS is likely quite good at pumping the numbers for phantom students. lol But if 100 go away, and are reported as leaving, it means a $480,000 or so loss state money. Based on the federal numbers the indicated loss is about $142,000 although how the federal dollars are really figured is an unknown, at least to me. If 50 were in Worth Co already before start of this school year, the loss is likely already cut in half, if not there will be cries of revenue shortfalls soon.

I hope folks in Worth share Lee's sudden patriotism since you are getting nothing to cover the claimed local cost. As a consolation, you will get more state and fed monies which will be gobbled up quick as salts through a fat goose. You have already provided salts for the goose with the 50 already in the barn.

Now, I must say you folks in Lee are becoming great patriots although arriving 60 years late at the dance, as pointed out earlier. But with all the delay in reaching this point, one can only wonder why there is such a rush to push this through with no explanation to the citizens of why this is being done. However, if you insist on doing it, give the citizens who support the system with $$ a little help and let the outsiders put in the $2,236 rather than the $1,500. .

All kidding aside, this is another blow to the DCSS as a viable educational system, a blow to hopes to keep the Base off the BRAC list, a blow to economic development prospects, and a blow to those who have children and pay taxes. DoCo is the biggest loser on this one.

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Jimboob 2 years ago

Why do the black people of Albany accept the situation with the DCSS? They must know that sending their kids to a substandard will doom most of them to a hard, poor life. A good education is the only ticket out of poverty and allowing the likes of Velvet Riggins, a known liar and thief, to run unopposed for the board is a sure ticket for them to fail.

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dingleberry 2 years ago

You are correct. For all practical purposes, it is a predominately black system in terms of students, teachers, and administrators. It appears education is merely a by product of the process since, when education is lacking, there seems to be little interest in making improvements. Hence, those who care about education, including many blacks, jump ship like the Base kids are doing rather than force changes to correct the system.

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Spike 2 years ago

This is common at the other bases now too so I wouldn't point it at DCSS. Quantico has base schools and agreements with the county schools as well. Military kids are moving often and their parents are going to war. What's wrong with giving them options so that they can find the school that fits the curriculum they came from?

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whattheheck 2 years ago

The issue with me is that DCSS schools seem after 60 years to no longer be adequate, which I agree with. So rather than fix the problem, or even perhaps acknowledge it, DCSS continues with business as usual and other systems such as Lee and Worth are asked to take up the slack. It affects all children in the county, not just military living on base.

I live in Lee and bit the bullet many years ago to buy into a better quality of life. Retired, I still pay a wad of school tax each year although my children are grown and yet my own grandchildren living in DoCo cannot buy into the Lee schools and are being home schooled. I would like to see DCSS improved to the point that they can be properly educated in a safe environment but without pressure it simply won't happen.

Any major employer and any family with savvy looks at school systems before moving to the area. We don't seem to have many biting these days and perhaps schools are holding us back. And when it is time for BRAC to try again, quality of life for the military will get a hard look since as you say we ask a lot from them.

I don't know how common such arrangements are now and how they are structured. In my experiences of years ago, I don't recall any bases going outside the "home county" for school support. But in the case of this Base, I don't think the search is for a curriculum that fits. Rather, it is more likely a search for one that has a real curriculum to work with and a better learning environment administered by people who seem to care what happens.

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Spike 2 years ago

It's common now for Marine bases to make arrangements with schools outside the gate. MCLB is tucked in the corner of 3 counties so in this case it's not unusual. If base housing is available Marines must accept it or lose their BAH so unlike the civilian populace that can choose which county to live in they really can't unless base housing is unavailable. Perhaps you should request to meet with the Base CO to see the reasoning.

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Jimboob 2 years ago

I was going to say something but it would be a waste of time. This problem isn't going to be solved. End of discussion

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by Jimboob

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MisterEd 2 years ago

Proposed price for MCLB students to attend Lee County Schools - $1504.50/year

Price for children of Lee County teachers that live out of county to attend LC schools - $1504.50

Nice to know that those that actually work in the system but live elsewhere have to pay the same thing. Sarcasm on.

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Spike 2 years ago

Really? Funny how folks will discount the tax revenue generated by the base and ignore the fact that the Marines kids don't have a choice. With as much tax revenue that is being provided by the base you'd think they'd do it for free like every other base. Of all of the Marine bases that have agreements with schools out in town this is the first one I've seen that they are doing it out of the goodness of their heart and charging. I guess when there are so few choices you can charge.

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chinaberry25 2 years ago

They do have a choice!!!!! The magnet school is great.

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chinaberry25 2 years ago

I still take up for DCSS. Lee County does not have a better education than the Magnet School in Albany. It is excellent and do not degrade it. Those children go on the major colleges just like Deerfield students. I am a taxpayer in Lee Co. and if the schools are maxed out, no go. The base is not located in Lee Co. and I doubt they put many taxes into the retail end of it. So I am against it! Lee Co. also needs to do a better checking of the children who should not even be there. A utility bill is not enough.

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chinaberry25 2 years ago

As far as not having a choice, if a school is not performing, they can be moved to a school that is performing in the same county. They just want for free what us taxpayers in Lee Co have to pay. I have not had a child in school in 15 years, but my school tax and bond is as much as the ad valorem taxes. No we should not have the base for free. They also do have a choice when they join. They do not have to join or they can rent or buy a house off base.

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allaboutthekids 2 years ago

Just think, a Marine risks his/her life everyday so that you can make uninformed comments like this.

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DRTexas 2 years ago

It is not free a$$hat. Read the article. It is $1500.00 per child. Out of the G.I.'s pocket. The rest of the state, and federal money will also get transferred to Lee county. That money is paid for by the Marine Corps. Base kids do not go to school for free. Each base pays it's own way. As a Federal entity, the base could actually make an agreement with another county to send ALL their children there. Thus tranferring a few million to a deserving/performing school district. I saw the threat of that happening here in Texas cause a crappy school system to get a new Superintendent and improve rapidly.

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whattheheck 2 years ago

Company coming, break out the flags! But perhaps Joshua should should stay in his office.

Brigadier General Gorry to Tour Dougherty High
On September 18, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany is anticipating a visit from Brigadier General T. A. Gorry, Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations East. In addition to visiting MCLB, he will also tour various community and school locations throughout Albany. Dana Wallace, Education Liaison for the installation, has requested that Superintendent Joshua Murfree and Principal SaJuana Wilson-Williams host a tour of Dougherty Comprehensive High School. The General will learn about the International Baccalaureate middle years program, an exclusive international curriculum offered only at Dougherty Comprehensive High School in South Georgia. The school's JROTC Marine Corps program will also be presented by Maj Nicholas Nicholson and SgtMaj Joseph Martin. The system and school leadership are excited about the opportunity to host the visit and to show progress being made on the education SPLOST improvements at Dougherty High that include newly renovated space and building additions.

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Shinedownfan 2 years ago

After going here, he ought to go to Lee Co. High and Worth Co. High just to check out all other options.

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