Oprah’s foundation aids Atlanta Girls’ School

The Atlanta Girls’ School has received a $175,000 grant from the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, which helped the private school finish a two-year effort to raise $750,000. If the school raised that much, an anonymous donor promised to give an additional $250,000, for a total of $1 million.

The school opened in 2000 and serves 180 sixth- to 12th-graders.

The Oprah Winfrey Foundation donates money to educational and social service programs for children.

State cites success of local schools

Four elementary schools in Buckhead were among 26 public schools in Atlanta and 275 across Georgia that the state recognized Nov. 18 for their performances on standardized curriculum tests and progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

In Sandy Springs, Riverwood International Charter School was among 31 Fulton County schools to receive state recognition.

Based on the results of the criterion-referenced competency tests (CRCTs) for the 2007-08 school year, Jackson Elementary was the lone school in Atlanta rated on the Platinum level for high performance. That means the school met No Child Left Behind’s adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the past three years, more than 35 percent of students exceeded standards, and more than 98 percent met standards.

Brandon Elementary received the second-highest recognition, Gold, meaning at least two consecutive years of AYP, more than 30 percent exceeding standards and more than 97 percent meeting standards.

Sarah Smith Elementary was one of three Atlanta schools to receive Silver recognition for making AYP for two years in a row and having more than 25 percent of students exceed standards and more than 96 percent meet standards.

E. Rivers Elementary was one of seven Atlanta schools to receive Platinum recognition for making the greatest gains on the CRCTs. That means E. Rivers made AYP the past three years, at least 35 percent of students exceeded standards, and the school was in the 98th percentile for improvement on the tests.

For its students’ performance on the Georgia High School Graduation Tests, Riverwood was one of eight schools in the state to receive recognition for both high performance and greatest gains, receiving Silver status in both categories.

School board retains stance on tax districts

The Fulton County Board of Education decided at its monthly work session Nov. 11 to extend its moratorium on tax allocation districts, or TADs.

The board imposed the moratorium in December 2006, pending the resolution of a court battle over a TAD for the BeltLine project in Atlanta. The board still plans to establish a policy on future TADs.

TADs are used to publicly finance through bond issues redevelopment in underdeveloped or blighted areas. They derive their funding through the incremental increase in the property taxes in the redeveloped area.

The Fulton school board approved a TAD in 2006 to help Alpharetta redevelop its downtown area with a new city hall, city plaza, condos, office, retail and parking facilities.

Ridgeview plans to change charter

Ridgeview Charter School, the Sandy Springs middle school that sends students to Riverwood International Charter School for high school, is seeking an amendment to its charter that would open the school to Buckhead residents and others.

Ridgeview wants to create a three-tier admission policy, matching the policy Riverwood adopted this year. North Springs Charter High School recently won approval to change its charter to adopt the same policy, and Sandy Springs Middle School also will have the policy next year if the state approves its petition to convert into a charter school.

Under the admission policy sought by Ridge­view, the school first accepts any students living within its traditional attendance zone, as set by Fulton County Schools. If space remains, the school then accepts any other students who live within the Fulton school system. Finally, if space still remains, students from outside Fulton are allowed to apply for admission, providing they agree to reimburse Fulton County Schools for the system’s costs. The current reimbursement amount is $6,020, but the figure is determined each year.

A note to the Board of Education from the Fulton County Schools administration says the three-tier policy is not likely to be expanded to Sandy Spring’ elementary schools, but the two high schools and two middle schools are under capacity and can accommodate out-of-district admissions.

The school board accepted the amendment on first read Nov. 20 and is due to vote on its approval in December.