Polk County College and Career Academy opening

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle provided some remarks during a ceremony held on Monday, Aug. 28 to celebrate the opening of the Polk County College and Career Academy. 

Kevin Myrick
  • A new CCA campus opens and teachers in trouble are some of the big news from schools this year.

A lot of good news and bad came out of the Polk School District this year, but the positives outweighed the negatives for the year as a growing number of students graduated this year, test scores got better and a new College and Career Academy campus opened.

Yet there’s plenty to look forward to in the year to come. After voting for a new E-SPLOST, a new round of building is set to start, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is coming to evaluate the district, and much more is on the list for 2018.

Here’s some of the stories that made an impact in the Polk School District in 2017:

5 graduate in 2017 with diplomas, college degrees

Several students are graduated with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree just weeks apart.

Excellence refuses to take a day off in Polk County as five local students experienced graduation twice in one year.

During this year’s graduations at Rockmart and Cedartown High School, Judy Standeford, Shayna Ingram, Lillian Bell, Macie Campbell, and Sydney Greenway have already graduated from college Georgia Highlands with an Associate of Science- General Studies Degree.

Under MOWR, students can earn college credits while taking high school courses at no financial cost so long as they pass the admission test.

With tuition and textbooks covered for free, the seniors paid for their educations with hard work and tenacity.

Taking a minimum of 20 college courses, the grads sometimes had to study harder and play less, but the Associate’s Degrees earned by the group serves as a reminder that extended studying “is worth it in the long run,” and as said by Lillian Bell.

“There’s nothing wrong with missing one night of fun every now and then,” she said.

College and Career Academy campus opens at CHS

It’s been a project years in the making for Polk County College and Career Academy CEO Katie Thomas.

The vision to give students more options for their education came to fruition when the Polk School District completed their College and Career Academy campus in Cedartown, a multimillion dollar project to provide new classrooms and campuses at both high schools.

With all the final touches completed, school officials got a chance to show off the new facility at Cedartown High School with the help of state and local officials this afternoon.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Gretchen Corbin and a slew of local officials were on hand for the official ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Polk County College and Career Academy during a late August visit.

Cagle said the College and Career Academy was an example of how local officials and educators are making an investment into the future of the community with the new facility. He added that Polk County’s figures coming from the College and Career Academy: 33 different career pathways for students to choose, 431 students taking advantage of dual enrollment opportunities, five in the class of 2017 graduating with both a high school diploma and a associate’s degree from Georgia

High Schools put up Wall of Principals

Rockmart and Cedartown High Schools held ceremonies this year and installed pictures in the opening hallways of their campuses to honor past leaders in Polk County’s education history.

Rockmart High School installed the Wall of Principals as one of the last acts of former principal Wesley Cupp, who was moved to Eastside Elementary before the start of the 2017-18 school year in August.

Later in the year, Principal Scott Hendrix who took over at Cedartown High School mirrored the efforts at RHS by installing a Wall of Principals at the school as well, and holding an October event to celebrate.

Board takes out Tax Anticipation Note to cover expenses

A Tax Anticipation Note was needed by the Board of Education to get through the year, and was set to be paid off by Dec. 28.

The Polk School board unanimously agreed to pass a Tax Anticipation Notice from winning bidder Century Bank during the August session.

The $1.6 million bridge loan helped cover costs while property tax collections came in, and along with E-SPLOST collections.

Though the Polk School District via the Board of Education gets regular checks from the Tax Commissioner’s office, Board Chair Tommy Sanders said the majority of payments and much of the funds the district needs to operate annually come in November.

Teachers arrested in incidents

A teacher was jailed in May and one in November after incidents in the classroom involving students.

In April, former Westside Elementary special education teacher Deborah Alexander Alford was jailed and later fired from her job after allegations became charges against her.

Alford was indicted by a grand jury in Polk County on the charges in late January and arrested on February 9 on four felony counts of cruelty to children in the first degree, maliciously causing excessive pain; one count of cruelty to children in the first degree; and misdemeanor battery.

A second educator was arrested in November after Youngs Grove Elementary School assistant principal Matthew Johnson turned himself in at the jail on several charges after he is alleged to have dragged a student across carpet during a incident before Thanksgiving.

He bonded out on charges of felony cruelty to children in the second degree and misdemeanor charges of reckless conduct, battery and simple battery.

A third grader was already in trouble for pushing another child and he was taken to the principal’s office. After refusing to follow the principal’s instructions and laying down on the floor, Johnson is reported to have drug him by the feet across the floor causing the burns to his back.