Lee County Schools Superintendent Larry Walters, left, chats with the Dougherty County Kiwanis Club's Alan Greer prior to the club's weekly meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn. (Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY — Lee County Schools Superintendent Larry Walters tooted the district’s horn just a bit Monday, telling the Dougherty County Kiwanis Club that one of the biggest reasons for the system’s success is, “We are blessed with wonderful support from the community and our parents. In fact, involved parents are a hallmark of our system.
“Our county and school system are growing each year,” he added. “We now have more than 6,400 students and eight schools. We are the largest employer in Lee County with more than 800 full-time staff, teachers and administrators, and we have a $3.4 million payroll.”
Walters pointed to the success of the county’s pre-K programs, adding that if a child enters kindergarten without a basic grasp of reading, then that student is at a disadvantage.
“If we can get a child through pre-K and get them to stick with us for 12 years they will be able to read, write and do math,” he said. “They won’t all be Rhodes Scholars, but they will have a solid educational foundation and be prepared for success.”
The superintendent also pointed to the success of the county’s 9th grade school as crucial to the system’s low dropout rate.
“We’ve been very pleased with out 9th grade school,” Walters said. “With nothing but 14- to 15-year-old students there, it helps make the transition to high school easier and keeps kids in school and brings down the dropout numbers.”
Walters said he was also proud of the fact that Lee County spends $6,500 per student compared to the state average of more than $7,500 per pupil.
“We do more with less,” he said. “Our spending is less but our achievement rate remains high.”
The superintendent then pointed out how the system’s new BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) Program, implemented this school year, is working out well for the Students and teachers.
“In the past we looked at students bringing smart phones and tablets into the classroom as distractions,” Walters said. “But this is a new generation and are using it to out advantage. We decided to embrace the concept. The tech abuses have been kept to a minimum.”
Prior to the luncheon, Walters and the Lee County Board of Education, held a meeting with Rep. Ed Rynders to discuss the system’s priorities when the state legislators convene next month in Atlanta.
“There was really nothing new discussed,” Walters said of the meeting with Rynders. “As usual we expressed our concerns about austerity cuts and dwindling state funding. We also told him that we are still at a 179-day school year, and we would love to get back to a full 180-day school calendar.”