Muscogee County School District’s superintendent Susan Andrews stressed the value of public education during a breakfast speech at the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce on Thursday morning.
“Everybody in America ought to support public education,” Andrews said during the chamber’s Eye-Opener Breakfast. She added that while public education often gets negative attention in the media, it teaches children how to be good citizens. People talk about what college they went to, she said, but don’t mention which high school.
They forget to say ‘And Shaw High school prepared me to go there.’ ‘Hardaway High prepared me to go there,’ ” Andrews said. “Someone had to prepare them to go to Georgia and to Auburn.”
She praised the local schools she has toured recently, like Allen Elementary, where she said she found textbook examples of educators teaching according to the state’s Georgia Performance Standards.
She said she also has taken some criticism for holding teachers and principals accountable for teaching the standards and having them posted in the school.
“I can also tell you that my honeymoon must be about over,” Andrews said, mentioning an e-mail that said she was leading by “fear and intimidation.”
“We’re going to have school in Muscogee County,” she said “There’s no reason our schools can’t make AYP.”
Andrews acknowledged that the schools have had decreasing enrollment, but said enrollment will increase again when the U.S. Army relocates the Armor School from Fort Knox, Ky., to Fort Benning. Base Realignment and Closure is expected to bring about 4,300 students to the school district.
“That’s why we need a 20-classroom addition to Northside High. That’s why we need a 12-classroom addition to Richards,” she said. The proposed additions are two projects slated to be funded by a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
If approved by voters on Sept. 15, the 1 cent sales tax would last five years or until the Muscogee County School District collects $223 million to complete a variety of capital projects, including the classroom additions, five new schools — a new Carver High, a new middle school, two new elementary schools and a fine arts academy — and athletics and technology upgrades across the district.
“I cannot sit down without saying this. This is not a permanent tax,” Andrews said of the SPLOST.