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Base conducting back-to-school session tonight

MCLB-ALBANY -- Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany officials and representatives from the Dougherty County School System will hold a back-to-school information session to discuss details for the upcoming school year at 6 p.m. today aboard the base.

MCLB and DCSS maintain a memorandum of understanding (MOU) allowing military children of school age, living both on and off-base, to have a choice as to where to send their children within the DCSS.

This meeting will serve to discuss some of the details for the coming school year, as well as provide parents with information pertinent to their child's educational development and success within the school system.

Tonight's educational meeting followed a Worth County School Board decision Tuesday which amended a policy decision it made Thursday. The original policy change would have prevented 57 children of active-duty Marines assigned to Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany from attending schools in the district.

The amended decision will "grandfather in" the MCLB-Albany children who are already attending the system, allowing them to remain in their current schools. It also committed the MCLB and WCS to talks in regard to the future of new on-base children within the county's schools.

The suspension of non-resident policy outraged many Marine parents, who learned of the move on July 12. Worth Schools are set to open on July 29.

According to rough numbers released by base officials Wednesday, approximately 100 children on-base attend schools in Dougherty, Worth and Lee counties. Nearly 400 students of parents who live off-base attend schools in their respective county of residence. Between 30 and 40 students attend private schools.

Worth County educates 57 on-base students and Lee County four, with the remainder attending Doughtery County schools.

The Worth students break out as 20 in pre-kindergarten, 14 in elementary school, 12 in middle school and 11 in high school.

It appears the WCSS would accept future students if a stipend (tuition) is paid to the county.

However, MCLB-Albany Commander Col. Don Davis said he did not care much for the idea of possible tuition for the base's children and that he would address the issue at the meeting with base parents.

DCSS Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely said he plans to pitch the idea of "freedom of choice" to parents.

Mosely also issued a systemwide email late Tuesday night which read: "There is no waiting list for parents from the Marine Base that are trying to enroll students into the Dougherty County School System.

"If a student meets the criteria for Magnet schools/programs, they should be accepted."

Westover High School Principal William Chunn also was blunt in his assessment of the Worth-MCLB dustup.

"I think they (Worth) screwed up," Chunn said Wednesday. "We want these Marine children in our schools. They are the type of kids that would fit well in our system. The 'freedom of choice' thing is big. It's a great opportunity for those parents and their children."

The DCSS had a 'freedom of choice' for on-base children until 2010 when the administration of former superintendent Joshua Murfree restricted the students to the school zone in which the base is located.

The DCSS will begin registering students next week and school will begin on Aug. 5.