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DCSS approves school choice for active-duty military children

By Colie Young | | June 20, 2013

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A freedom of choice policy implemented by the Dougherty County School System recently made it possible for dependent children of active-duty service members to attend DCSS schools outside the district they are zoned in.
According to Dr. David Mosely, DCSS superintendent, Dougherty County was losing military students to other school systems and it was time for DCSS to reach out to the military families. Currently, there are approximately 60 active-duty dependent children at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany who travel to Worth County to attend school.
“There have been some concerns for a long time, even before my arrival, that we don’t do enough to help the dependent children of our Marines,” Mosely said. “We discussed some options with Colonel Don Davis (commanding officer, MCLB Albany) at the base and we thought (providing them a choice of our schools) was the best alternative.”
On June 10, the DCSS board approved the new policy which allows military families stationed at MCLB Albany the option to choose between any of the DCSS public schools they want their children to attend.
The base commanding officer said having a choice of where to send a military child to school can help ease the transition from the old school to the new school to continue the continuity of education.
“We wanted to explore an opportunity where we were provided at least an option for parents to choose from,” Davis said.
“A typical military family with high school age children can move an average of two or three times. A particular program may be offered at one base or school a child previously attended, but may not be available at the current zoned school,” he added.
“Many military installations offer schools on base, but MCLB Albany does not have an on base school option,” Davis said. “Having a high school alternative will ensure military students continue their academics at or above their current educational level.”
Mosely said the school board supported the new policy with a unanimous vote.
“There really weren’t any challenges,” Mosely said. “Our hope is that some Marine families will take advantage of this opportunity because we’d love to have them back in our schools. We will do all we can to make the transition smooth.”
The freedom of choice policy applies to all active-duty dependents that live in Dougherty County, either on or off base.
If parents choose an out-of-zone school, they must provide transportation to and from the school.
The exception will be for students who attend International Studies Elementary Charter School, Lincoln Elementary Magnet School or Robert Cross Middle Magnet School.
These students can receive transportation from any location in Dougherty County as long as the residence is at least 1.5 miles from the assigned school.
Interested parents may register students at their chosen school from July 22 through July 31. DCSS schools begin the fall semester Aug. 5.
For more information, call Dana Wallace, school liaison, at 229-639-5162.

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