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Murfree: Virtual schools the future

Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfee makes a point during a community forum Monday evening at Westover High School.

Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfee makes a point during a community forum Monday evening at Westover High School.

ALBANY — Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfree says that the community will play a major role in the success of the school system in the coming years.

Speaking at his fourth community forum since taking over the system in June 2010, Murfree urged the crowd gathered at Westover High School’s auditorium to look to the future of education.

“We are in the 21st century and we should act like it,” Murfree said. “We want you to be involved in your children’s education. We want the community to know what’s happening in the Dougherty County School System because we can’t do our jobs without your help.”

Murfree is convinced that a “virtual school” model is the wave of the future and pointed to the online University of Phoenix as an example of where he would like to take the Dougherty system.

A virtual school could also mean more operations dollars for the school system.

“Virtual schools increase enrollment. And increased enrollment means more dollars for the school system,” Murfree said, pointing to homeschoolers as a prime target market. “The University of Phoenix has no classrooms, the students do all their work at home on their computers or on their iPads. IBooks cost $14.95 per download. We are going to have to change our thinking and go outside of the box.

“We need to be thinking 21st century. We are going to go after the homeschooled students because if we don’t, we’ll be left behind.”

Murfree, however, said the virtual schools won’t happen overnight.

“This thing is not going to happen in the next few weeks. It might take three years to develop,” Murfree said. “We have to first to develop the infrastructure to support it.”

Addressing the system’s anticipated $9 million budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2013, which starts July 1, Murfree admitted that there is little way for the school system to avoid teacher furlough days, which right now stand at 10 days and will save the system and estimated $6 million.

“Ten days is the worst case right now. We really won’t be able to tell until we get budget numbers from the state,” Murfree said. “We’d like to get it down to three days, but right now people are throwing oranges at me. I’d like to get rid of all of them (furlough days), but I can’t promise that.”

Murfree said “everything is on the table” to reduce the shortfall as the system bears down on a June 30 deadline to have its budget to the state.

“Do we consolidate some schools? Notice Dr. Murfree didn’t say close schools, but consolidate schools,” said the superintendent. “I think we need to look first at the Pre-Ks then determine is we really need 16 elementary, six middle and four high schools.

“We need to make sure that all our classrooms are filled; we can’t have 20 students in a class when the state says we can have 30. Then there is always the possibility of a RIF (reduction in force.) We spend $10 million per month and 90 percent of that cost goes toward personnel.”

Murfree also addressed the College and Career Academy the system is currently developing with the assistance of the area business community.

“We want Dougherty County to become a hub in Dr. Barge’s (State School Superintendent John Barge) Career Pathways plan,” Murfree said. “We want to eventually bring in students from Lee, Baker, Mitchell and Terrell County into a College and Career Academy here to help put those kids on career paths.

“We’ve got to stop saying, ‘That’s your problem,’ and start helping each other.”

Comments

brendajohnson 2 years, 5 months ago

Virtual schools will only work if the student actually wants to learn. Few students in the DCSS will meet that requirement.

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dingleberry 2 years, 5 months ago

Ought to work well in Albany. Virtually all the work can be done while incarcerated in the YDC and we can pay the teachers virtually nothing. No more erasures--hit the delete button. For lunch, let them eat cake and when finished, they can rob the liquor store before supper.

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waltspecht 2 years, 5 months ago

Just think of the on line schools and the diploma rings we now have, it would only get that much worse. The system seems to be unable to get parents to force their children to behave, and actually attend school. These are the same parents you are going to expect to monitor at home computer learning? Where are they going to get the money for the inter-net access, and are we going to loaner computers? As to going to full year school, are we simply increasing the baby sitting availability? Would failing students be required to attend school during break, much like Summer School? How much more do we think we can dump on the Teachers as far as work without pay, while a failing Superintendant gets a hefty raise? Yes, he is failing, for I fail to see where he has made any actual improvements in the System or the Students. From what I hear, he doesn't even have the respect of the Teachers, let alone the entire School System.

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dingleberry 2 years, 5 months ago

Walt, please don't try to be practical. In this case, it is virtually impossible.

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JBruce 2 years, 5 months ago

I would be interested in knowing Mr. Murfree's opinion as to why he thinks so many students are being home schooled. As a non connected citizen to any political position or other special interest group I would suggest that the increasing number of home schooled students is a direct result of a failed school system and it's inability to adequately educate students. Should not parents who are genuinely concerned about the education of their children have the option of choosing the method of how that education is obtained? I applaud parents who make the sacrifice of home schooling their children. They have realized what a dysfunctional entity the public schools system has become with blatant corruption and teacher's unions dictating how our children are educated. I would suggest that Mr. Murfree will have a difficult time convincing any responsible parent who is home schooling to return that student back into the battlefield which the public school system has become.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 5 months ago

In the middle of the near-death crisis of a DCSS educational system that is on life support, whose condition can only be described as needing "intensive care" to give it the slimmest chance of survival....Murfree wants to launch off on a 3-year boondoggle to turn Dougherty County education into an online learning model (which he knows nothing about)? It seems that Dr. Murfree has been spending too much time in the rarified air of his office, counting his hundred-thousand-dollar-plus salary, and that his brain has become starved of oxygen. Maybe his bow tie is too tight. I don't know but you've got to be kidding me?

What this smells like is another Federal grant of a few million dollars and three years down the road nothing will have happened, the money will have vanished somewhere, and we'll be scratching our heads wondering where we're going to get the money to pay it back. Murfree has no clue how to achieve this lofty, and frankly silly, plan.

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tywebb 2 years, 5 months ago

“We are in the 21st century and we should act like it,” Murfree said. WHAT? Like being qualified and certified for job that affects the future of the community?!?!

Murfree is convinced that a “virtual school” model is the wave of the future and pointed to the online University of Phoenix as an example of where he would like to take the Dougherty system. YEAH!!!! because people with phoenix degrees are held in such high esteem! That would be a great way to make the diploma mean absolutely nothing!!!

We are going to go after the homeschooled students because if we don’t, we’ll be left behind.” UMMMMMM.....too late!!!!!!

"...but right now people are throwing oranges at me." I hope they have good aim!!!

"Do we consolidate some schools? Notice Dr. Murfree didn’t say close schools, but consolidate schools,” said the superintendent. 1. Never trust a man in a bow tie!!! 2. NEVER TRUST A MAN IN A BOW TIE WHO REFERS TO HIMSELF IN THE 3rd PERSON!!!!!!

“We want to eventually bring in students from Lee, Baker, Mitchell and Terrell County into a College and Career Academy here to help put those kids on career paths." Yeah, like kids from there would like to come to this wonderful school system

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Jacob 2 years, 5 months ago

"“We are in the 21st century and we should act like it,” Murfree said. WHAT? Like being qualified and certified for job that affects the future of the community?!?!"

LOL. Perfect!!

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whattheheck 2 years, 5 months ago

Good show, tywebb! Pointed and pithy.

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Just_Wow 2 years, 5 months ago

Virtual schools? That's his solution? OMG we are in such trouble here. A cheating laughingstock, unqualified and incompetent leadership, parenting problems and he says "start helping each other." Maybe we should start helping each other pack. Or better yet, help him pack.

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LuLu 2 years, 5 months ago

Uuummm... University of Phoenix, 34?? Do you mean the same University of Phoenix that had to pay out a $78 MILLION settlement for FRAUD???!! Good ol' 34. The gift that keeps on giving.

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Jacob 2 years, 5 months ago

Yes. The same. The one that is not accredited and is not recognized, nor will a degree from there get you a job with a real employer (not to include DCSS which will accept a degree from a crackerjack box). Wow. Will someone who is friends with this guy tell him the next time he thinks he has a thought to just let it go and keep quiet. LOL

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Cartman 2 years, 5 months ago

University of Phoenix! That paper mill? That's Murfree's goal? And that idea of bringing in kids from surrounding counties - that is solid gold! You would have to catch them first, and drug their parents. Maybe we could rename the DCSS; the University of Phoebe. I'm now having a new appreciation for the school board's decision to hire Murfree. He keeps me in stitches. Keep it coming!

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LuLu 2 years, 5 months ago

True. The comedic relief this guy offers at least makes us temporarily forget about all the raping, robbing and pillaging.

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tywebb 2 years, 5 months ago

The old addage (and i know it's not exact but you get the point), "Better to keep your mouth shut and have people THINK you're a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt," was conceived for #34! un-freaking-believable!

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whodat 2 years, 5 months ago

Well, now I'm confused. Is the DCSS thinking of operating its own virtual school? Because that would be re-inventing the wheel. The State DOE already runs a virtual school: http://www.gavirtualschool.org/ and students from home, private, and public schools (including DCSS) are eligible to enroll.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 5 months ago

Cassius Clay had a name for this kind of tactic..."rope-a-dope".

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TrixibelleBento 2 years, 5 months ago

I've now had two people work for me that have had virtual college degrees and neither of them had practical knowledge and do not seem to "get it". I see a whole generation of virtual learners and it doesn't look good for us.

Are foreign countries who are beating us intellectually following this new "trend"? Nope, they're not. I'm sorry if children would rather play on a computer than sit through a traditional class, but guess what? LIFE ISN'T FAIR. When you grow up, you can play video games all you want.

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Citizen_A 2 years, 5 months ago

Virtual school is not the answer to a failing school system, nor is it an answer for bringing more money into the system. I believe it is great in certain specific circumstances. But to say this is the future, is completely delusional. Lets take kids who are lacking in upbringing and social skills and put them at home in front of a home computer and isolate them. That is disaster in the making...and as "TrixibelleBento" said "I see a whole generation of virtual learners and it doesn't look good for us". We already have an unqualified work force.

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Momof3 2 years, 5 months ago

The University of Phoenix huh? That's the best you got. Probably not the BEST example, BUT since you used it.... the UNIVERSITY of Phoenix is a college that adults go to. They have to PAY for it through loans, scholarships, etc, so if a "student" goes, they actually WANT to go. DCSS is a publc school system.K-12. No money required. Sad as it is, if the kids are not going to school now, a virtual school is not the answer. Parents are not MAKING their kids do what they need to so what makes you think that staying home will make it better?

It starts with PAREWNT INVOLVEMENT and until you have that, virtual school or actual school....it is not going to work.

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MRKIA 2 years, 5 months ago

DR. MURFREE: DO YOU EVER VISUALIZE THE IDEAS YOU HAVE AND STANCES YOU TAKE BEFORE YOU GO PUBLIC WITH THEM? YOU TEND TO BEG FOR THE RIDICULE YOU RECIEVE BY GOING PUBLIC WITH ONE MORONIC STATEMENT AFTER ANOTHER. PERHAPS YOU SHOULD AVOID THE NEWS MEDIA ALTOGETHER AND LEAVE PUBLIC RELATIONS TO PROFESSIONALS.

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MRKIA 2 years, 5 months ago

BTW: YOUR IDEAS WOULD CREATE THE NEED FOR VIRTUAL SUPERINTENDANTS. ONE PER STATE; THINK OF THE SAVINGS.

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ghostofkarelia 2 years, 5 months ago

This is easily the dumbest idea I have ever heard of. I'm not sure if I should laugh or stockpile water and nonperishables.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 5 months ago

and weapons and ammo. And a certified, notarized copy of the Constitution for when we have to start all over. It'll save us a lot of time.

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agirl_25 2 years, 5 months ago

I like MRKIA's idea.....a Dougherty County School Virtual Superintendent!!!! Hey it could work....don't laugh until you have had time to think about it....

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TrixibelleBento 2 years, 5 months ago

He could look like Max Headroom! With a bow tie, of course.

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ghostofkarelia 2 years, 5 months ago

I guess it makes sense that Murfree & co. would hold the University of Phoenix in such high regard. Most of the "doctors" in the school system earned their Ph.D.'s at diploma mills like Phoenix.

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ghostofkarelia 2 years, 5 months ago

It's good to think "outside the box" sometimes, but it's also important not to completely forget that the box even exists.

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whattheheck 2 years, 5 months ago

Doc, you may be interested in getting the homeschool children, but let me assure you "it ain't gonna happen!". The parents of these children are not interested in a virtual curriculum. But I see you are interested in getting more money for--what?

With the caliber of student now in the DCSS, the number that could successfully learn in a virtual system is very, very small. With "virtually" no home life now, or parents interested in education, it will be a "fast track" system to the welfare line or a prison. If children don't learn at school, they won't learn at home. And whattheheck will they do for breakfast and lunch--meal on wheels or a virtual burger and fries?

I suggest you do a little more thinking "inside the box" for a change!

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Amazed2 2 years, 5 months ago

Murfree is a Virtual Fool !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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tywebb 2 years, 5 months ago

If we went to virtual classes, the findings of the DA's study of teen pregnancy (an article from the other day) would be off the chiz-ain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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reb_arty1863 2 years, 5 months ago

Then there will be virtual murfrees. Why cant we get the real farrakhan instead of a wanna be?

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