Schools prep for SACS evaluation

Published 7:58 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Come October, the county’s schools and their staffs, students and administrators will be given the white glove inspection, education-style. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) will be making a visit to determine whether or not the system will sustain its accredited status.

“In the past, Butler County’s seven schools each worked independently to obtain their accreditation and all have achieved it,” said Dr. Kathy Murphy, administrative assistant to Mike Looney, superintendent of the BCSS. With continuing duties mounting on the shoulders of the county’s teachers, the decision was made to streamline the accreditation process, Murphy said.

“Mr. Looney and our board made the decision to get our system accredited as a whole. This will take a lot of the work load from the schools and their teachers and puts the preparation at the central office level,” she said. A committee made up of board members, community educators, teachers and principals has been working together to get the system ready for the review,

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With the closure of RL Austin Elementary and Georgiana High School and the opening of the Butler County Magnet School, a total of six schools, including BCMS, W.O. Parmer Elementary, Greenville Elementary, Greenville Middle School, Greenville High School and McKenzie School will be evaluated during the October visit.

“When this evaluation team comes, they will be visiting with the school staffs, teachers and students, the board and superintendent to gain an overall perception of this district,” Murphy said.

“SACS focuses on overall school improvement, setting high standards and maximizing student achievement.”

Standards in seven different areas must be met for the system to achieve accreditation, Murphy said:

– A stated, clear vision and mission.

– Established teaching and learning methods.

– Strong governance and leadership.

– Documenting and using data.

– A good resources and support system able to meet the needs of the county system.

– Strong stakeholders’ relationships with the system (good communication between schools and members of the community)

– Commitment to continuous (monitored) improvement.

“What is the benefit of all this to us? Well, we certainly want our school district to be fully accredited. Universities and colleges want students from accredited schools,” Murphy said.

“Accreditation also helps us with professional development by providing us with resources for the process. It pushes us to work for continuous improvement.”