The Oglethorpe County Board of Education meets tonight to discuss the application process to become a Strategic Waiver School. What exactly is a Strategic Waiver School and what could it mean to children there?
Strategic Waiver School Systems is the revised system of Investing Educational Excellence System (IE2). Under this system, a local education system enters into a contract with the State Board of Education. Counties in this contract can receive waivers for certain state educational guidelines such as class size and expenditure control in order to help best meet their students’ needs and improve their school systems overall. Achievement under the strategic waiver school system is based on the county’s CCRPI, or the college and career preparedness index. There are currently 12 counties in the state that are Strategic Waiver School Systems.
Forsyth County has been one of the 12 IE2/Strategic Waiver Schools since 2009. The director of accountability at Forsyth County, Karl Mercer, said their experience has been a positive one, with the flexibility allowing the schools to tailor their curriculum to their students’ specific needs.
Cindi Lowe, Director of Operations for the Oglethorpe County Board of Education, is optimistic that the change will do the same for their county. According to Lowe, becoming a Strategic Waiver School System seems like the “best fit” for the county at this time. However, she acknowledged that “the stakes are high.” If counties don’t meet their target achievement for student performance, the local schools will fall under state governance and teachers could lose their teaching certifications.
The strategic waiver school initiative is part of a larger movement from the Georgia Department of Education to improve education across the state by holding districts more accountable for their individual counties’ performance.