Columbus city leaders okay grant to help reduce school suspensio - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus city leaders okay grant to help reduce school suspensions

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

The Muscogee County School District's suspension rate was more than 12 percent in 2012, compared to the state's average of nearly eight percent.

These figures compelled Crime Prevention to join forces with an advocacy group called Georgia Appleseed in hopes of reversing this trend. Today, both groups went before council for funding approval.

"Suspension can make a child that's not even at risk, or maybe marginally at risk, marginally at risk," explains Crime Prevention Director, Seth Brown.

Brown says that makes the partnership between Georgia Appleseed and the Office of Crime Prevention vital. Both groups asked Columbus City Council for a deadline extension to apply funds that were allotted after their March 31 deadline.

Appleseed's Teddy Reese says this is to jump start their new programs before the 2014 school year.

Reese adds, "We are working very closely with the school district, with the P.B.I.S. pilot that we're bringing in. There's training that's going to transpire over the summer. There's new software introductions that need to be done."

Starting this summer, the Columbus office of Georgia Appleeseed and Crime Prevention will roll out the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) system to keep troubled students in school using the $18,000 grant recently awarded by Sapelo.

Reese claims that if a student is out of school for more than five days, that student is behind for the rest of the school year.

"In addition to that, what are these children doing while they're at home? Many of them come from families where there's no one there during the day. So, that leaves them exposed to the influences that we feel are not good for them," says Reese.

Both Brown and Reese say the approval of this partnership and grant will positively impact the District's suspension rate and crime.

City Council seemed to agree, voting unanimously to approve the extension.

Reese tells News Leader Nine the work sessions for the new software and programs will begin once students are released for the summer. 

To find more information about Georgia Appleseed, visit www.gaappleseed.org.

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