Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Henry County Schools Receives Title I Distinguished Schools District Award

State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox officially named Henry County Schools as one of Georgia's four Title I Distinguished Districts at the November 4, 2009, State Board of Education Meeting. The Title I Distinguished District award is given to four school systems in four different size categories -- Large District, Medium District, Small District and Very Small District. The Henry County School System, which will receive $50,000 in federal funds, was selected for the large district category.

The awarded districts have closed the achievement gap the most between economically disadvantaged students and students who are not economically disadvantaged in each category. The results of the reading, English language arts and mathematics portions of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) and the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT) are used to determine achievement.

"These districts and schools are a prime example of the impact high expectations, hard work and collaboration can have on student achievement," Superintendent Cox said. "I'm thrilled to recognize the educators, students and parents in these schools and school districts."

Title I schools have a significant population of students who are economically disadvantaged and receive federal money to assist with the education of these students. Cox recognized 896 Title I Distinguished Schools. Title I Distinguished Schools have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) at least three years in a row.

"The Title I Distinguished District Award is an outstanding achievement for our Title I schools. We are honored and pleased to receive this distinction from the Georgia Department of Education, and we know that it is directly related to the hard work and dedication of our Title I principals, teachers, coaches, and support staff," says Assistant Superintendent, Learning and Teaching Greg Benton.

Title I Distinguished Schools that have made AYP for three consecutive years are awarded a certificate, while those who have made AYP four or more years receive a monetary award, paid for out of federal funds. The number of Title I Distinguished Schools has grown significantly since 2003, when 116 schools were recognized.

"This award honors the hard work of all staff involved with Title I students and parents. It reinforces the on-going commitment we have to ensure that our students achieve so that they can some day compete in a global society," says Dr. Sandra Moore, Federal Programs Coordinator.

"I appreciate all the efforts of so many on behalf of student achievement," says Henry County Board of Education Chairman Ray Hudalla. "We are fortunate to have quality faculty and staff whose focus is ensuring the sucess of each student."
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sixth Annual Goblin Gallop Raises More Than $25K for Charity

Money to benefit Henry County's Hands of Hope Clinic

For the second year in a row, Heron Bay Golf and Country Club’s Goblin Gallop raised over $25,000 for the Hands of Hope Clinic, Henry County's only free medical and dental clinic. More than 300 racers participated in the sixth annual event which was held on Oct. 24. The race, which encourages runners to dress up in their Halloween costumes, included a 6K run, 1 mile Run/Walk and a Tot Trot for children ages 5 and under.

“This was the best Goblin Gallop in terms of participation in all six years of having it according to previous organizers and we are pleased with the amount of money raised in this economy where everyone is stretched to the limit,” said Linda Banks, Executive Director of the Hands of Hope Clinic.

Established in 2004 as a way to bring the community together while drawing awareness of and raising funds for the Hands of Hope Clinic, the Goblin Gallop has grown in size each year and has been hosted by Heron Bay Golf and Country Club since 2005. Last year’s Goblin Gallop attracted more than 250 participants and raised $25,000 for the clinic.

Sponsorship dollars, registration fees and raffle ticket sales all benefited the Hands of Hope Clinic, a free Christian medical clinic in Henry County. The clinic operates every Monday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at 1010 Hospital Drive on the campus of Henry Medical Center. Its commitment is to provide any resident of the county who does not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, has no private health insurance and who cannot afford to see a doctor, with basic medical care and free medications as available. The clinic relies on help from volunteers, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, therapists, and other various healthcare personnel and is financially supported through its volunteers and charitable donations. All monies raised during the Goblin Gallop and various raffles will support the clinic.

To visit Heron Bay, take I-75 South to Exit 216. Turn right and proceed five miles to Heron Bay Golf & Country Club.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Clayton State to Collect Fish Samples for Henry County Aquarium

Clayton State University Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Christopher Kodani is preparing to go on a fishing expedition… and he won’t have far to go.

Kodani, and some of his students, will be assisting James Moore of the Henry County Stormwater Management Department in putting together a traveling aquarium for the county. Moore was recently awarded a grant from North American Native Fish Association to showcase local non-game fish species, and since Moore and Kodani have been collaborating in the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program and Rivers Alive Cleanup events, he naturally asked for help from Clayton State’s biologists and ecologists to populate the tank.

Moore is currently in the process of procuring all the materials he’ll need for the traveling aquarium, however, it won’t be long before he’s ready to start sampling local creeks, at which time Kodani and his students will get involved.

“One of the native fishes that James and our crew have encountered in Henry County is the Turquoise Darter,” says Kodani in anticipation of his fishing expedition. “It’s small, but very pretty. See It’s the relatively unknown species like this that the aquarium display will try to bring attention to.”

The aquarium will also include an educational display identifying the fish and explaining ways to prevent water pollution. It is expected that the aquarium will move between public spaces in Henry County, including libraries and schools.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Henry County Schools Releases ACT Scores

Two hundred, thirty-three more students, totaling 1,189, took the ACT (American College Testing) this year than last. Since 2005, the number of Henry County ACT test-takers has increased 127 percent compared with the State’s increase of 55 percent. The ACT is one of the tests used by colleges as part of their admission process. It consists of curriculum-based tests of educational development in English, mathematics, reading, and science to measure skills needed for success in first-year college coursework.

“While students will pursue a variety of paths after high school, all students should be prepared for college and work,” says Superintendent Michael Surma. Through collaborative research with postsecondary institutions nationwide, ACT has established college readiness benchmark scores for designated college courses. These benchmarks are set as minimum scores needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college course. Henry County Schools is continuing efforts to improve students’ scores, especially in the areas mathematics and science.

“Research shows the rigor of high school coursework has the greatest impact on students’ performance on college entrance tests and readiness,” says Surma. Henry County students’ results are consistent with this finding as students who took Algebra 1, 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus scored an average of 24.6, as compared to 15.4 for the students taking less than 3 years of math courses. This is 1.3 points higher than the State average, and 2.6 points higher than the benchmark. Although the number of Henry County ACT test-takers increased 24 percent from last year, average ACT scores remain stable across the District.

“We will continue to encourage students to take more rigorous classes to be better prepared for all post-secondary educational plans,” says Greg Benton, Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Teaching Services. Henry County Schools is committed to ensuring educational success for all students. Elements of the action plan geared toward college readiness for students are: Creating a common focus, establishing high expectations for all, requiring a rigorous curriculum, providing student counseling, as well as measuring and evaluating progress.

“Our System goal is for Henry County students to score at or above the national average on the ACT,” says Benton.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Henry County Schools Employees Receive State-Mandated Furloughs

Henry County Schools establishes furloughs for all employees. The School System was instructed by the Governor Tuesday, July 21, 2009, it must institute three furlough days for the 2009-10 school year. The furlough days must be non-compensated days for all employees; therefore, employees may not take vacation, sick, or personal leave on the designated furlough days. As such, the School District expects to be reducing the annual pay of employees by an amount equal to three days of pay.

“Our goal is to comply with this state funding reduction initiative in a manner that will least affect the actual instructional days for our students,” says Superintendent Michael Surma. “This school year will continue to present significant financial challenges in both local and state funding as we continue our commitment to ensure educational success for each student.”

The furlough days are designated by the number of days in employees’ contractual agreements with all employees receiving a total of three before December 31, 2009. Pending Board of Education approval, Henry County Schools identified the following furlough days for the upcoming school year.

Furlough Days for Employees with a Work-Year of Fewer Than 244 Days:
· Monday, July 27, 2009
· Tuesday, July 28, 2009
· Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Furlough Days for Employees with a Work-Year of 244 Days or more:
· Wednesday, September 16, 2009
· Thursday, September 17, 2009
· Friday, September 18, 2009
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Heron Bay To Host Sunset Picnic for Residents on July 18

Heron Bay Golf and Country Club, a master planned development in Locust Grove, along with the Heron Bay Community Association and the Heron Bay Community Liaison Committee will host a Sunset Picnic from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Lakefront Park located on the Cole Reservoir. The picnic is designed to create an understanding of the various neighborhood committees and to also encourage residents to support their community by nominating themselves or their neighbors for the upcoming term.

Residents are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs and stocked picnic baskets to the community event. The Heron Bay Community Association will provide all residents with ice cream.
The Lakefront Park was completed last year within Heron Bay along the shore of the Cole Reservoir which offers breathtaking views and is the ideal location to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The park features a large, stunning pavilion with a catering kitchen, overhead fans, picnic tables, fire pits, an IPOD docking station and swings.

“The Heron Bay Community Association along with the support of the Heron Bay Committees have made it a goal to host several events and seminars throughout the year to encourage our residents to meet their neighbors,” said Sheila Wolfe, Heron Bay’s HOA Manager. “While the Sunset Picnic will provide a beautiful ambiance, it will also provide a wonderful opportunity for our residents to learn more about their neighborhood committees and community leaders.”

The Lakefront Park is the newest of many amenities residents at Heron Bay Golf & Country Club enjoy, including an aquatic center, Tennis Center, miles of sidewalks and nature trails and a 5,000 sq. ft. Community Lodge with fitness center. Residents may also choose to join Canongate at Heron Bay, a beautiful and challenging 7,300 yard, par-72 golf course. Home owners also have access to fishing and non-motorized boating on Henry County’s 1,100-acre Cole Reservoir, which is adjacent to the beautiful master planned community.

To visit Heron Bay, take I-75 South to Exit 216. Turn right and proceed five miles to Heron Bay Golf & Country Club. Heron Bay is on the right.

About Heron Bay Golf and Country Club:
Named the “Community of the Year” in 2005 by the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association, and awarded the 2006 Grand Award for Outstanding Development by the Georgia Urban Forest Council, Heron Bay Golf and Country Club, developed by Minerva Properties, is a master-planned community that is setting new standards for development in the Atlanta marketplace. Heron Bay includes a variety of neighborhoods designed for every life stage and features a full complement of unparalleled amenities in a resort-like setting in Locust Grove, Ga., just south of Atlanta. For more information, visit or call 770-957-5633.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Education Transportation Changes in Henry County Schools Due to Lack of Funding

For the first time in almost twenty years, Henry County Schools (HCS) will have to modify its implementation of Henry County Board of Education Policy EDD Bus Scheduling and Routing. Consequently, the HCS Transportation Department will be unable to transport all students as it has in the past.

"It saddens the Board to have to make this decision, and it is something we would rather not have to do,” says Chairman of the Board Ray Hudalla. “We just don't have the resources to continue providing the level of transportation service we have for the last several years. We are asking that the transportation department adhere to the level of service as described in our Bus Scheduling and Routing Policy, policy EDD."

The policy to which Hudalla is referring states in part that “Students who live more than one (1) mile from the school to which they are assigned are eligible for transportation to and from school.”

In past years, students who live less than a mile from the school to which they are assigned have also been offered transportation as a courtesy and in keeping with discretionary elements included in Policy EDD. However, the current demand for seat space will result in routine transportation only for those students who live more than one mile driving distance from the school to which they are assigned. This change in practice will begin August 3, 2009. In addition and also in keeping with Policy EDD, bus stops will routinely be placed in a manner where a student would not travel more than a .3 mile increment. The complete policy may be viewed at or you may visit the Henry County Schools Website at and look under Board of Education and follow the links to Board Policy, then specifically to Policy EDD.

“For the first time in twenty years, Henry County Schools will not transport students within a mile of their home school,” says Superintendent Michael Surma. “Even though the policy was approved by the Board August 1990, we have been able to accommodate those students who were within the mile measurement from the school. With present funding, we are no longer able.”

The failure of the recent school bond referendum combined with reductions in state funding, a decrease in SPLOST collections, and other financial challenges have decreased funding for additional buses to transport students within Henry County Schools. Without additional buses, the school system is analyzing how to most effectively use existing resources. While the school system transportation budget requirements are $14 million, the State will fund only $1.8 million for the 2009-10 school year, a decrease from last year.

“We are challenged with a huge disparity of funds. We have been able to compensate for the disproportion in the past through SPLOST and Bond Referendum funds,” says Director of Transportation Cliff Shearouse. “We do not have that option at this time.”

Henry County has seen dramatic growth in past years. Within the last six years alone, student enrollment rose from 29,912 in 2003 to 39,665 in 2009. This growth has challenged the system to purchase enough buses to meet the demands of this growth in student population.

State Funding:
· State funding $1.8 million for 2009-10 (decrease from last year)
· State funds no buses more than 10 years old
· State does not provide funding for students living within 1.5 miles from the school

Henry County Schools Transportation Facts:
· Budget requirements - $14 million
· Total bus fleet = 347
· System currently has 132 buses that are more than 10 years old
· A recommendation was made to purchase additional buses at a cost of $3,910,000
· Student Ridership (Based on January 2009 headcount)
o 39,665 students enrolled
o 24,224 students transported on buses (approximately 60% ridership)
· Maintenance Costs - $ 3.2 million (Fuel, Insurance, Tires, Parts, etc.)
· Estimated number of buses eliminated from full routes by implementation:
o Elementary School implementing 1 mile rule – 29 buses
o Middle School implementing 1 mile rule – 1 bus
o High School implementing 1 mile rule – 2 buses

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Gaete is New Sales Associate, McDonough / Henry

Catalina (Cathy) E. Gaete is a new sales associate with the McDonough/Henry County office of Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty.

Gaete, who has been in real estate for four years, has an associate degree in business, and she has completed a pre-professional development series with Coldwell Banker University.
She works with buyers, sellers and investors.

A Clayton County resident, she serves as secretary for her church and is a volunteer at her son's school.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Backyard Grillers, Racing Pigs and Music to Highlight BBQ Festival

Forget baseball, grilling is America’s favorite pastime and on Saturday, April 18 local teams will compete in the ultimate grilling competition. The 2nd Annual Simply Southern Jubilee Bluegrass and Bar-B-Que Festival will feature a “Backyard Grillers” Competition, the music of The Thomas Tillman Band, Robinson's Racing Pigs and of course, Bar-B-Que. Unlike other Bar-B-Que Festivals, the Backyard Griller’s Competition gives Bar-B-Que beginners and neighborhood grilling legends a chance to compete for cash prizes and the title of “Best Backyard Griller.”

Food and a little friendly competition provide the perfect mix for a day of family friendly fun. The kids will love the children’s area and all ages will enjoy chatting with Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle. Add adventures like helicopter rides and people grilling in the back of a Volkswagen Beetle and you have an event no one should miss. “This is truly going to be a Henry County classic,” stated Charles Woodroof, Chairman of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce. “What a great way to enjoy some of Henry County's greatest assets…neighbors, great BBQ, a beautiful park, music and down home fun!" The festival will be held at Nash Farm on Friday and Saturday, April 17 & 18, 2009. Gates will be open from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-12 and children 5 and under admitted free.

The event is sponsored by Henry County Parks and Recreation and the Henry County Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau and all proceeds will benefit Haven House and Nash Farm. For more information about the festival and how to participate visit or call Laura Barrett at (770) 957-5786.
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