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Public-Private Partnership Benefits Houston Co. Schools

3:57 PM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
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Houston County schools are trying something different. Instead of depending entirely on public funds for operations, they're looking to private sponsorships.

Superintendent Robin Hines announced a pilot program Tuesday, that he says is already paying off.

In a classroom at Westside Elementary, first grader Zaria Glover intently played a learning game on a computer.

She said, "I was playing volleyball. The game on Kids College I really like."

The "Kids College" program she played reinforces what's learned in the classroom. It uses technology her teacher, Amanda Wood, says speaks to students.

Wood said, "They love earning points and playing games after they answer questions."

Hines said money to keep and expand the software was running out, after several years of state cuts to public school budgets. Hines says a group called Americans for Schools recognized the problem.

He said, "They're asking what can we do to help. How can we support and supplement those budgets?"

The first way, announced Tuesday by Hines and the group's founders, is a gift of $1.16 million dollars to keep the classroom software for five more years at Westside, and expand it to all 31 Houston elementary and middle schools.

Hines said, "A two year contract at Westside was $7,500, and now, they're going to get a five year license for free."

Houston's partnership with Americans for Schools will grow. It's founders say shoppers will soon be able to earn cash for schools, when they shop at local stores.

Houston County schools agreed to be the pilot program for the Americans for Schools plan. AFS wants to expand nationwide.

Its founders include a north Georgia businessman and the owner of local business, Mid-State RV, in Byron.

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