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EIP expansion to be moved before full School Board

Dougherty County School System Executive Director of Finance and Operations Ken Dyer told the DCSS Finance and Personnel committees Wednesday that the district needs to expand its EIP (early intervention programs) to reach students in K through third grades. This will require the hiring of 25 new teachers. (Staff photo: Terry Lewis)

Dougherty County School System Executive Director of Finance and Operations Ken Dyer told the DCSS Finance and Personnel committees Wednesday that the district needs to expand its EIP (early intervention programs) to reach students in K through third grades. This will require the hiring of 25 new teachers. (Staff photo: Terry Lewis)

ALBANY — The Dougherty County School Board’s Personnel Committee on Wednesday voted to expand the system’s EIP (early intervention programs) and to move the decision before the full School Board. The expansion would require the district to hire 25 new teachers.

The premise is to add new intervention programs in K-3rd grades in an attempt to catch students who are lagging behind their peers. The DCSS’s current EIP program is in place only in grades four and five.

DCSS Director of Finance and Operations Ken Dyer said the additional teachers — all new hires — would cost approximately $1 million and would be paid for out of the general fund initially until the system can ask the state for help in funding the additional manpower.

The system would need to add nearly 1,300 new EIP students who, when coded properly, should result in state reimbursements that would cover at least 85 percent of the cost, and possibly pay for all the new hires. The state pays additional money for EIP students above the $3,800-plus FTE (full-time equivalency) money paid for each student in Georgia’s 180 school districts.

“We should be able to recoup the funds if we code the students correctly,” Dyer said. “We’ll need 25 new, highly-qualified (certified) teachers and we are hoping to to find a mix of full-time and ‘49 percenters’ (retired teachers) to fill those positions.”

The district currently has EIP in in place in the fourth and fifth grades, but now wants focus on kindergarteners through third-graders. The state average shows 10 percent of elementary students need EIP, and Dyer said the DCSS is around that number, but the percentage could be higher.

“A million dollars is a significant investment, but if we can catch and correct potential problems earlier, then we think it will be a good investment,” Dyer said.

“It’s obvious we need these teachers because the numbers of younger students needing help is alarming,” committee member Robert Youngblood said. “There are a lot of strong retired teachers out there and I would encourage reaching out to those people. We need the strongest teachers we can get for this program.”

Committee Chairman James Bush stressed to Dyer that he wanted the student coding to be accurate, alluding to a coding error of Drop Back In Academy Program students in June that cost the system an additional $275,000 from a dwindling general fund reserve.

“I just want to get it right the first time,” Bush said. “There is a lot of money at stake and this has to work. Period.”

Dyer seemed to get the message.

“Our primary goal is to educate our children, and we have a plan in place to handle this,” he said.

The full School Board will meet at 11:30 a.m. Monday, when it is expected to vote on the proposal.