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Fayette schools get high student marks

Recently, Ms. Gail Onesi offered us her assessment of our school board and its performance. While I believe that everyone has different opinions and priorities that influence them, it is also important to consider the facts. The Fayette County Schools are consistently at the top of any performance measure.

This week the annual system pass rates for the CRCT were published. Again, our Fayette schools bested all metro systems (including Cobb, and Cherokee) in every grade in every subject.

When we measure our schools against systems of similar size, we score first or second place in every category with Forsyth County providing some serious competition.

Last week, the state graduation tests were released and two of our five high schools were in the top 25. Our system was ranked second overall behind Cherokee County. Our SAT performance is annually in the top 10 in the state with nearly 80 percent of our seniors taking the test.

No other county comes close to that type of performance. Our neighbors in Coweta recently scored a top 10 system SAT performance with less than 50 percent of seniors taking the test.

Congratulations to our students, teachers, parents and administrators for such great results. However, I think we often forget about the “Fayette Advantage” that helps fuel this success.

Ms. Onesi points to a rumor that we have system capacity equal to 6.5 empty schools. This is incorrect. Our system was at 84 percent of planned FCBOE capacity which is approximately 95 percent of state allowed. Based on performance, I submit that our administration knows more than the state of Georgia.

Our board has supported class sizes below the state maximum which may result in excess capacity but also result in more attention for the students.

Neighborhood schools have been a hallmark of the Fayette strategy and results in integrated communities invested in the success of the schools and its students.

To follow Ms. Onesi’s comment to its logical conclusion, she would support closing schools, thus reducing capacity, redistricting (again) and creating an unstable situation where ongoing population shifts would pit neighbor against neighbor and take focus from the mission of an excellent school system and place focus on battles over attendance at certain schools, similar to the ongoing debate about Bennett’s Mill Middle School.

I strongly disagree with the idea that equates our neighborhood schools to factories where demand can be directed at any factory regardless of location. Our schools are located in neighborhoods that seek to minimize transportation time, maximize community, and result in well-educated students ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. It is time to lay to rest the redistricting battles of yesterday and come together to advance our schools.

Given the excellent performance of our schools and the excellent achievements of our students at a below average cost over the past years, I was surprised to read that Dr. Todd said, “If you are happy with the last eight or nine years, you need to vote for my opponent.”

While I expect that our board work together to advance our schools and seek to unite our community behind them instead of exploiting past differences, I am generally happy with the results of our schools over the past eight or nine years.

Neil Sullivan

Peachtree City, Ga.

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