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Andy Council updated on REACH

During the workshop session of the Andalusia City Council Tuesday, the council was given a presentation by Superintendent Pete Kelley and the Andalusia City Board of Education regarding its ongoing participation in the REACH program.

REACH (Realizing Every Alabama Child's Hopes) is a program designed to assist teachers and students in meeting various education-related goals while also attempting to help individual schools and school systems cope with fierce economic conditions.

The Andalusia system is one of many in the state participating in the campaign and Kelley's system is also one of many in the state which will likely face difficult cuts in personnel and possibly some programs due to financial woes affecting education.

The campaign is designed to point out many of the positives that have been occurring with state schools, such as high low dropout rates and high ACT and SAT scores, while also noting that schools in the state still have many needs in terms of personnel, supplies and funding.

Kelley said he feels the campaign is progressing well.

"I feel (the program) has been received very well," said Kelley. "In the end, I don't know if the program will still be referred to as the REACH program, but this is still an important guide to the needs of the school system. There has got to be additional revenue raised, and there are a lot of people out there working hard to promote this program."

He said his system has already addressed the Civitan Club and has already been slated to speak at other clubs in addition to Tuesday's address to the city council.

Although he said the address to the council was mainly to educate Mayor Earl Johnson and the council on certain needs the system has, he was also hoping to perhaps merit consideration from the council about the city possibly helping with funding.

The development of the plan is the result of months of deliberation and action of the Alabama State Department of Education, in response to a court order dating back to 1993 where the state was charged with developing a plan to reach an adequate level in its schools.

If fully implemented, it is hoped that the program would ensure that every child in the state will have an opportunity to succeed educationally, no matter where the child happens to live or the circumstances of a student's family.

Funding is emphasized in the program, as it is built around nine functional categories of expenditures, including:

Facility renewal (capital outlay).

Operations and maintenance.

Food service.

Transportation.

Instruction and instructional support.

School administration and support services.

General administration and support services.

Student support services

Other support services and staff.

The program, additionally, is designed to increase class time and add teachers to the classroom and it addresses practically every area of public education such as buildings and maintenance, teacher testing, the addition of textbooks and computers, special education, educational initiatives and school libraries.

Kelley said the program will not be a short-term one.

"(The program) is a permanent one," said Kelley. "Hopefully it will go a long way toward improved equity of funding."

Kelley and his board are also hoping that the program might also result in several more positive ways, such as increases in textbooks, materials and supplies, additional teachers and professional development.