Back to school for dollars and sense

Published 7:49pm Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Intervention programs In Early Childhood: Polk County Schools uses a blended funding model to provide pre-kindergarten programming for eligible students at ages 3 and 4. During the 2012-2013 school year, 83 percent of the incoming kindergartners had at least one year of pre-k.

The school district runs a unique school-based model whereby Head Start, NC Pre-K, Title I and local funds all work together. There are private programs in our area, but the school district runs the most comprehensive program with full day and year activities.

Polk County Schools often cites the large participation in pre-k as one of the reasons area students achieve at high levels elementary through high school.

Spending per student: Polk County has stood by its education system consistently by adding to the federal ($800/student) and state ($6,700/student) spending with an additional $2,700 per student, totaling $10,200 per student investment. This does not include child nutrition programs.

Attracting excellent teachers: Not only do families locate here for our excellent school system, but teachers also want to teach in a supportive environment.

Polk County consistently has a 90 percent retention rate for its teachers. This number is in jeopardy as public education in our state continues with the teacher pay freeze, while increasing student standards and teacher responsibility significantly.

Accessing higher education: Students at Polk High and Polk Early College have the ability to take online coursework through Isothermal Community College (ICC) and participate in “live” classes offered via Polk County Schools teachers acting as adjunct professors for ICC.

Students can take general education courses like college English or physics, or they can take topical courses in program areas like criminal justice.

The highly successful Early College affords students the ability to earn two years’ worth of college credit while also earning a North Carolina high school diploma. There is no cost for the coursework offered and students completing all five years can transfer their credits to a four-year university.

Accessing money for higher education: Polk County Schools is fortunate to have the support of community organizations like the Polk County Community Foundation, Turner-Tennant Foundation and the Forbes Foundation that provide scholarships for college. Many other local organizations like Rotary, Kiwanis, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Tryon Estates and more also offer awards to help students access higher education.

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