Tuesday, April 10, Eyewitness News at 6

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HELLO EVERYONE AND THANKS FOR JOINING US.... I'M LEAH JOHNSON..
AND I'M LORRA LYNCH JONES
THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX...

THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION SAYS ABOUT HALF OF THE NINTH GRADE STUDENTS IN BIBB COUNTY DON'T END UP GRADUATING.
THE DISTRICT'S GRADUATION RATE IS 51 PERCENT.
THAT'S 16 POINTS LOWER THANT THE STATE RATE... WHICH IS 67 PERCENT.
HOUSTON COUNTY'S RATE IS HIGHER... AT 73 PERCENT.
THOSE ARE NUMBERS THE STATE JUST RELEASED BASED ON A NEW WAY OF CALCULATING HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES.
THE NEW FORMULA IS THE SAME ACROSS THE NATION... WHICH MAKES IT POSSIBLE TO COMPARE GRADUATION RATES AMONG STATES.
CANDACE ADORKA EXPLAINS...
THE NEW GRADUATION RATE CALCULATION IS CALLED THE COHORT RATE.
IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE MORE ACCURATE THAN THE OLD METHOD... CALLED THE LEAVER RATE.
HERE'S WHY.
THE LEAVER RATE WOULD SIMPLY COUNT HOW MANY STUDENTS **LEAVE** SCHOOL WITH A DIPLOMA... COMPARED TO HOW MANY SENIORS STARTED THE SCHOOL YEAR.
THAT METHOD INCLUDED STUDENTS WHO TOOK MORE THAN 4 YEARS TO GRADUATE... AND THE NUMBERS TENDED TO BE HIGHER.
THE NEW METHOD STARTS TRACKING WHAT IT CALLS THE NINTH GRADE COHORT... THOSE STUDENTS WHO STARTED HIGH SCHOOL TOGETHER.
STUDENTS WHO LEAVE THE SYSTEM ARE SUBTRACTED FROM THAT NUMBER... THOSE WHO TRANSFER IN... ARE ADDED.... AND THAT'S THE NUMBER THE STATE USES TO MEASURE HOW MANY SENIORS ACTUALLY GRADUATE.
UNDER THE COHORT SYSTEM... SCHOOLS MUST ACCOUNT FOR EVERY STUDENT....ALL THE WAY THROUGH GRADUATION.
STATE OFFICIALS SAY THIS MAKES THE NUMBER A LOT MORE PRECISE.
THE METHOD THAT GEORGIA IS USING TO TRACK LAST YEAR'S GRADUATION CLASS...WILL BE USED NATIONWIDE TO MEASURE THE CLASS OF 2012.
LEAH? LORRA?

THE STATE SAYS WHEELER COUNTY HAD CENTRAL GEORGIA'S HIGHEST GRADUATION RATE.. AT 87-POINT-5 PERCENT.
SUPERINTENDENT MARK DAVIDSON SAYS FOUR YEARS AGO. .. THEY STARTED A PROGRAM CALLED "GRADUATION IS THE ONLY OPTION" BECAUSE THEY WERE CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR RATE.
DAVIDSON SAYS THAT.. COUPLED WITH BEING A SMALLER SYSTEM.. ALLOWS THEM TO THEM FOCUS ON EACH STUDENT INDIVIDUALLY.
Dr. Mark Davidson, Wheeler Co Sueprintendent: "The graduation rate is important, but we believe down here doing what is best for the student is more important than the graduation rate. And that's getting students where they need and getting them ready for the real world."
CRAWFORD COUNTY'S NEW GRADUATION RATE TOOK A BIG DROP. IT'S THE LOWEST RATE IN CENTRAL GEORGIA....JUST 42 PERCENT.
TREY SEAGRAVES.. ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT FOR CRAWFORD COUNTY SCHOOLS.. IS NOT CONVINCED THE NEW RATE GIVES AN ACCURATE PICTURE OF HIS SCHOOLS.
HE SAID.. "WE WERE NOT PLEASED WITH THE DROP USING THE NEW CALCULATION METHOD; HOWEVER, GRADUATION RATE HAS BEEN AND WILL REMAIN ONE OF OUR POINTS OF FOCUS.
WE HAVE THE SAME STUDENTS.. TEACHERS.. ADMINISTRATORS.. PARENTS.. AND SUPPORT STAFF WORKING JUST AS HARD TODAY AS THEY WERE YESTERDAY. "
SEAGRAVES POINTED OUT THAT FOR THE 2010-2011 SCHOOL YEAR.. CRAWFORD COUNTY 8TH GRADERS SCORED THE SECOND HIGHEST PASSAGE RATE IN THE ENTIRE STATE ON THE MATH PORTION OF THE C-R-C-T.
FOR A COUNTY-BY-COUNTY BREAKDOWN OF THE NUMBERS... LOOK FOR THIS STORY ON OUR WEBSITE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.

A NEW SEX EDUCATION CURRICULUM AT HOUSTON COUNTY ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS... FOCUSES ON PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM PREDATORS AND ABUSE.
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION UNANIMOUSLY APROVED A NEW PROGRAM... THAT THEY SAY UPDATES THE COURSE TO REFLECT TODAY'S DANGERS.
<<nats- (10:30) It's called Child Lure's Prevention Program. Think First and Stay Safe."
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR AVIS ZANDERS HELPED A COMMITTEE ON SEX ED PICK THE PROGRAM.
Avis Zanders: (11:10) "This program teaches all about personal body safety, and just safety in general. (11:45) "This program has video clips. It has scripted lessons. Then, it has a parent guide that goes along with it, along with a standard workbook.
ITS INTENDED FOR CHILDREN IN KINDERGARTEN THROUGH FIFTh GRADE.
Avis Zanders: (14:40) "It is early, but it's also necessary because we have kids on every grade level who have been abused in some type of way."
nats- Ron
RON WILSON... THE DISTRICT'S DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL PROGRAM... SAYS CALLING IT A SEX EDUCATION COURSE... MAY BE A MISNOMER... BECAUSE THERE'S LITTLE ABOUT ANATOMY OR SEX.
Ron Wilson: (5:20) "This is basic, basic stuff." (5:40) "With the younger ages, its more about safety and making good choices and recognizing situations they should not be in."
THE CHILD LURES PROGRAM USES VIDEO EXAMPLES OF DANGERS.
Ron Wilson: (6:05) "One of the clips shows a child, being lured from a playground, where an older gentleman comes up. He's dressed like a grandfather to him, trusting to him. He's trying to find a puppy."
OTHER CLIPS SHOW ON-LINE DANGERS... EMOTIONAL TRAPS... OR HELP CHILDREN RECOGNIZE ABUSE.
Avis Zanders: (14;00) "You want them to know about neglect, and you want them to know about emotional or physical abuse, because those are also ways kids are hurt."
ZANDERS SAYS PARENTS CAN REVIEW THE PROGRAM FOR THEMSELVES... BEFORE SIGNING A PERMISSION SLIP FOR THEIR CHILD TO TAKE THE COURSE.
>>
THE ELEMENTARY SEX ED PROGRAM WILL COST THE SYSTEM 11-THOUSAND DOLLARS... AND STARTS IN THE FALL.
RON WILSON SAYS THEY'RE IN THE EARLY STAGES OF UPDATING THEIR MIDDLE SCHOOL SEX ED PROGRAM.
HOUSTON COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT ROBIN HINES SAYS THE ELEMENTARY SEX ED PROGRAM HASN'T BEEN UPDATED SINCE THE RISE IN SOCIAL MEDIA AND INTERNET USERS.
Robin Hines, Superintendent: "It was just time you have to look at this thing to make sure we are up to date in meeting the challenges that exist out there for us."
THE BOARD PASSED THE MOTION TO UPDATE THE ELEMENTARY SEX ED EDUCATION IN A VOTE OF SEVEN TO ZERO.

ALSO AT TODAY'S MEETING... THE BOARD VOTED TO APPROVE AN INCREASE IN SCHOOL LUNCH PRICES.
BOARD MEMBER TOBY HILL SAYS HE UNDERSTANDS WHY HIS FELLOW BOARD MEMBERS VOTED FOR THE INCREASE... BUT SAYS HE DOESN'T AGREE.
Toby Hill, Board member: "In my view it was a situation that maybe called for a little independence on our part the federal government has mandated that we raise lunch prices yet they also expect us to approve that without question."
THE BOARD PASSED THE MOTION TO INCREASE LUNCH PRICES BY TWENTY-FIVE CENTS... WITH A VOTE OF SIX TO ONE.
HILL VOTED AGAINST THE INCREASE.

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RICK SANTORUM SAYS HE'S SUSPENDING HIS CAMPAIGN FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION.
THAT CLEARS THE PATH FOR FRONTRUNNER MITT ROMNEY TO BECOME THE PARTY'S NOMINEE.
SANTORUM MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT IN HIS HOME STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA TODAY.
HE TOLD SUPPORTERS THAT WHILE HE'S SUSPENDING THE CAMPAIGN... HE'S NOT DONE FIGHTING.
"I walked out after the Iowa caucus victory and said game on. I know a lot of folks are going to write, maybe even those at the White House, game over. But this game is a long long way from over. We are going to continue to go out there to make sure that we defeat President Barack Obama, that we win the House back and that we take the United States Senate and we stand for the values that make us Americans."
AFTER SANTORUM'S ANNOUNCEMENT... ROMNEY CONGRATULATED HIS FORMER RIVAL... CALLING HIM AN "ABLE AND WORTHY COMPETITOR."
SANTORUM MADE NO MENTION OR ENDORSEMENT OF ROMNEY DURING TODAY'S SPEECH.

OPPONENTS OF A PROPOSED COAL-BURNING PLANT NEAR SANDERSVILLE...SAYS THEY'VE CUT A DEAL TO REDUCE POLLUTION THERE.
A COALITION OF ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS SAYS THEY'VE MADE AN AGREEMENT WITH THE PLANT'S BACKERS...CALLED POWER FOR GEORGIANS.
AS PART OF THE DEAL...POWER FOR GEORGIANS HAS REPORTEDLY AGREED TO DROP PLANS FOR ANOTHER COAL BURNING PLAN IN BEN HILL COUNTY.
THAT'S JUST SOUTH OF WILCOX AND TELFAIR COUNTIES.
THE PLANT OPPONENTS SAY POWER FOR GEORGIANS ALSO AGREED TO TIGHTER LIMITS ON RELEASING MERCURY FROM PLANT WASHINGTON....NEAR SANDERSVILLE.
BOTH SIDES HAVE NOT YET FORMALLY SIGNED OFF ON THE AGREEMENT.

THERE'S A NATIONWIDE CONTEST TO HELP FEED THE HUNGRY AND THE CITY OF MACON HAS A SHOT AT THE MILLION DOLLAR PRIZE.
JUDY LE STOPPED BY THE MIDDLE GEORGIA COMMUNITY FOOD BANK TO CHECKOUT THE WISH-LIST.
200 HUNDRED CITIES AND ONE GRAND PRIZE.
SOT RALEIGH: 401 the dollars will definitely be used and we can find a home for them. i'ts just mind boggling for me to think that oh...i might have a million dollars to try to spend. wow! 413
THAT'S HOW MUCH IS UP FOR GRABS. WAL-MART IS HOLDING A CONTEST TO HELP FIGHT HUNGER AND IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO AN ONLINE VOTE.
SOT RALEIGH: 229 if we can't get the most votes, maybe we can get the second most or the 20th most. as long as we're in the top 20, we're good to go 234
CITIES MAKING THE TOP TWENTY WILL RECEIVE 50-THOUSAND-DOLLARS EACH. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RON RALEIGH HAS STARTED MAKING A WISHLIST
SOT RALEIGH: 525 the higher end protein items will def be on my wishlist we get the million dollars. then i would chase that with fruiits and vegetables 538
SOT KENNEDY: 145 to put together a meal, the fruit is kind of expensive. a lot of people pass over the fruit and go to other things 153
MARGIE KENNEDY FROM THE HOUSE OF GRACE CHURCH IN COCHRAN STOPS BY EVERY TWO WEEKS TO STOCK UP.
211 we have a small food bank. we have anywhere from 15 to 35 families that come on any given day that we're open 223
ON A MILLION DOLLAR BUDGET, RALEIGH SAYS ABOUT 150-200-THOUSAND FAMILIES WILL GET A MEAL.
YOU CAN CAST YOUR VOTE ONLINE USING A FACEBOOK APP.
JUDY WALKS YOU THROUGH THE PROCESS.
wal-mart compiled a list of cities hardest hit by unemployment. that list comes from the department of labor. you can vote for your city on wal-mart's facebook page. here's how you do it. just click on the fighting hunger tab.go to the app.find your state and chose macon. make sure to click vote and share. you can vote every 24 hours. this contest runs until april 30th. judy le 13 wmaz eyewitness news.
THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WAL-MART HAS PUT TOGETHER AN ONLINE CONTEST TO FIGHT HUNGER.

WE HAVE A CLARIFICATION FOR YOU.
EARLIER IN THIS NEWSCAST.. WE TOLD YOU THAT CRAWFORD COUNTY HAD THE LOWEST GRADUATION RATE IN CENTRAL GEORGIA... BUT WE NEGLECTED TO GIVE YOU THE NUMBER.
ACCORDING TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION... CRAWFORD'S GRADUATION RATE FOR 2011 WAS 42 PERCENT.
THAT'S DOWN FROM 65 PERCENT IN 2010.

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LIKE THIS ONE OF ReNYA CURTIS... MS. NORTHEAST.
OR THIS SHOT OF KIERA GOLPHIN.
LOOK FOR THE LINK TO SHARE YOUR PROM PHOTOS IN THE "CHECK IT OUT" BOX ON OUR HOMEPAGE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.


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