The Coffee County School System has been named 2018 Charter System of the Year. The announcement came on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, at the Charter System Foundation awards luncheon in Athens.
Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle hosted the 4th Annual Charter System Foundation Awards Luncheon, in the Classic City, highlighting the numerous achievements of Georgia Charter Systems. Coffee County Schools was also awarded a $10,000 grant by the Georgia Association of Realtors to further enhance their reforms.
Dr. Morris Leis, Superintendent of Coffee County Schools, accepted the award and shared his appreciation to the students of Coffee County, teachers and staff, parents, community members, school governance councils, business partners and the Coffee County Board of Education for their hard work over the past five years. “It takes all of us working together for the success of our students,” Dr. Leis stated.
During the first five years of charter status, the school district has experienced success in many areas. The development and opening of the Wiregrass Regional College and Career Academy that offers blended virtual learning and dual enrollment through Wiregrass Technical College and South Georgia State College, the opening of the first Boys and Girls Club of Coffee County through a 21st Century Grant, and STEAM Summer Internships to name just a few.
The 2018 graduation rate for the Coffee County Schools reached the highest level ever, 82.8% which is above the state average. The graduating class of 2018 was the largest in school history with 485 students. The class comprised of 86 honor graduates, 33 Zell Miller Scholars, 243 Advanced Placement students, and 44% HOPE Scholarship eligible.
The Charter System of the Year Award recognizes a system that has demonstrated excellence in leadership, governance, partnerships and achievement. Coffee County has used their substantial flexibility to elevate their vision for their school system. Specifically, flexibility with personnel and staffing, scheduling, and expenditure controls. As an example, in an effort to retain and recruit quality educators the district has created its own salary schedule for certified staff that exceeds the state.
Coffee County is one of 45 Georgia charter systems across the state representing county and city school systems. Every charter school district is as diverse as the students they educate from Fulton County as the largest with Taliaferro County as the smallest. As a charter system, the district is given flexibility to be creative and innovative to better meet the needs of the students. In exchange, the district has increased accountability which the district continues to meet.
As the Charter System of the Year for 2018, Coffee County was selected from the following list of nominees that were considered for the Charter System Leadership Award or Georgia Charter System of the Year: Atlanta Public Schools, Baldwin County Schools, Barrow County Schools, Calhoun City Schools, Coffee County Schools, Dougherty County Schools, Dublin City Schools, Floyd County Schools, Fulton County Schools, Lumpkin County Schools, and Morgan County Schools.
Of Georgia’s 180 school systems, 45 have been approved as Charter Systems by the State Board of Education. Georgia Charter Systems have proven effective in addressing the specific and unique needs of individual school systems, embarking on new relationships between each board of education and their communities.
The Coffee County School System has recently completed its Five Year Strategic Plan that will guide their work for continued educational success. The complete document may be viewed on their website, coffee.k12.ga.us