The Clayton Tribune
January 12, 2017
By Tommy Culkin
RABUN GAP — Rabun County’s public schools are models of excellence, as they all exceed the state’s averages in performance and graduation rates.
That was the message Rabun County Superintendent Melissa Williams delivered to the Development Authority of Rabun County at its January meeting.
Last year, Rabun County High School had a 95 percent graduation rate, which was an improvement over its 90 percent rate the year before. Both years, RCHS far exceeded Georgia’s average of 78.8 percent.
Rabun County schools also have higher than average College and Career Readiness Performance Index ratings. Rabun County Elementary School had a CCRPI score of 78.8 last year, exceeding the state elementary school average of 71. Rabun County Middle School had a rating of 79.4, far better than the state middle school average of 71.5. And RCHS had a score of 80.3, exceeding the state high school average rating of 75.7.
“We’ve made some improvements from the year before last to last year, and I hope we will continue to see improvements this year,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of different data indicators that our educators look at to determine what’s best for our students, and I think it’s really paying off.”
Williams also praised the parent resource rooms in Rabun County Primary School and RCES. The parent resource rooms are filled with educational materials families can take home, and there are seminars taught by Family Engagement Specialist Michelle Black to teach parents how to educate their children at home.
“We’ve been teaching a large number of families how to help their children grow at home and how to discipline their children,” Williams said. “Michelle has been quite the cheerleader for the program and has done a wonderful job for the system and she has a passion to make families feel welcome and help them be successful.”
The program is funded through the schools’ Title I funding. Williams said the county puts all its Title I funding into the elementary and primary schools under the philosophy that if you give care to economically disadvantaged children at younger ages they won’t need as much educational assistance in the later years.
Another program Williams is proud of is Rabun County’s food services. In addition to nutritional lunches and free breakfasts, Williams said Rabun County is one of the few school systems that boasts a supper program, where students who participate in after school activities can receive a free dinner. This is Rabun County’s third year providing the supper program, and Williams said Rabun was one of only two systems in the state to begin providing the program three years ago. Roughly 350 students are fed through the supper program each day, Williams told the board.
In addition to giving reports on the schools’ academic and food services, Williams also gave an update on the construction of a new cafeteria for RCHS and RCMS. The cafeteria will be large enough to feed the entire student body, though Williams predicts there will still be two lunch periods to ease strain on the cafeteria workers.
Construction is expected to be completed in January 2018.
“The current facility is the most cramped, disjointed (cafeteria and kitchen) I’ve ever seen,” Williams said. “This will be a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility.”