July 9, 2016 | Spotlight

Institute shares insights about school-government collaborations with educators

Institute shares insights about school-government collaborations with educators

Writer: Roger Nielsen

Leading educators from dozens of Georgia school systems gained greater knowledge about the benefits of effective school-government collaborations from information that Institute faculty members presented at two recent professional training conferences.

Faculty members Paula Sanford and Russell Cook led training programs for members of the Pioneer Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) in Cleveland and during the 2016 Multi-RESA Superintendents Conference on the Georgia coast. The programs were based on Sanford's recent paper, "Local Governments and School Systems: Partnering for Better Communities."

Dozens of school superintendents from five RESAs attended the Multi-RESA Conference. Pioneer RESA conference participants included superintendents, school-based leaders, and teachers from 13 north Georgia school systems, according to Cook, who served as a local school superintendent and a RESA executive director before joining the Institute faculty.

Sanford's research paper features six case studies, including a fire service training project involving a school system in the Pioneer RESA service area and a building repurposing program with Metter and Candler County in southeastern Georgia.

Fire service training taught by local firefighters "could be a real win-win for the local government and for the school system by providing an exciting class that can keep students engaged while helping to increase the pool of potential firefighters," Sanford said.

In Metter, Candler County School District leaders worked with city government officials to repurpose two buildings that the school system planned to replace. The City of Metter converted an elementary school building into a police station and housed the local Boys and Girls Club and Head Start in a middle school building, according to Candler County School Superintendent Bubba Longgrear.

Longgrear gave an update on the Candler County collaboration as part of the Multi-RESA Conference presentation. "We went to the city and the county and said we want to partner with you in this. The foundation of it is, everybody's motives are focused on improving the quality of life in the community," he said.

In addition to the case studies, "Local Governments and School Systems: Partnering for Better Communities" features insights into elements of successful collaborative ventures. The study was sponsored by the UGA Office of Vice President for Public Service and Outreach.

Georgia's 16 RESAs provide groups of local school systems with technical assistance and shared services to help contain costs.