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Kelly Girtz

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The Editor's Desk: An economic metric that's easy to understand

@nowheregirl - I haven't spoken to the developer regarding tenants since late last year, but at the time they were securing "a mix of local and national" tenants.

posted @ Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 08:33

Athens City Hall streetscape plan moves forward

@davidxto - the Clayton Streetscape is a completely separate project from the earlier City Hall Block project (on two different SPLOST referenda), though by bidding the work together, we can get a better bulk price.

posted @ Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 09:17

Athens City Hall streetscape plan moves forward

@retiredandhappy - this project's initiation and approval as part of the SPLOST 2000 package predates Reddish's tenure as Manager.

posted @ Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 11:56

Galis: 'Build it and they will come' isn't real-world development strategy

Thanks for the thoughts, Leon. Two development groups or their representatives have approached me in the last year seeking downtown sites for retiree dwellings, so interest is definitely out there.

In addition, there has been quite a bit of discussion about taking one of the approaches suggested by River District/Blue Heron advocates and providing low-cost, long-term land leases of public properties downtown for desirable development. Imagine the parking lot on Dougherty Street in front of Hotel Indigo with a grocery on the ground floor, a couple of levels of well-outfitted office space, and condominiums above that aimed at professionals or retirees.

posted @ Friday, July 12, 2013 - 10:51

Athens Mayor and Commission push Buena Vista historic designation

Oracle - No mobile homes are part of my submission; that was part of the problem with the earlier draft.

posted @ Friday, January 18, 2013 - 00:36

In Da Bed Togethah! ATown Jus' Keeps On Truckin'!

Ed, et al. -
As you can see below in the press release from last month, Classic City High School is included in the overall CCSD graduation rate. You will note that the district rate is lower than that of either Cedar Shoals or Clarke Central because it includes Classic City's population, which includes many students in their 5th, 6th or 7th year of high school, making those students' receipt of diplomas ineligible for counting toward the graduation rate based upon the "cohort" model. While Classic City is included in the overall District totals, it is not required by federal No Child Left Behind/"Adequate Yearly Progress" regulations to separately track and report a stand-alone graduation rate because of its small population. I hope this provides some clarity.
-Kelly

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central graduation rates above state average

Athens, Ga. – Today, the Georgia Department of Education released cohort graduation rates. This new method is a requirement of the U.S. Department of Education, and will be used to provide comparable high school graduation rates across the nation. This cohort method is based on the number of students that graduate within four years, plus one summer. The Clarke County School District’s cohort graduation rate is 66.1%, as compared to the previous method’s calculation of 70.8%. Statewide, the graduation rate is 67.4%, compared to the previous calculation of 80.9%.

“Our primary goal is for students to graduate, and our cohort graduation rate demonstrates that the vast majority of our graduates do so within four years,” said Superintendent Philip D. Lanoue. “I commend all of our faculty and staff for their focus on improved student performance that leads to graduation. As a result of our collective work, the graduation rates of both Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central are above the state average. We will continue our targeted approach in ensuring that all students are challenged to succeed at high levels.”

Clarke County’s rate is within 1.3% of the new state average. And according to State Superintendent John Barge, the state has “known for some time and communicated that this new formula would show a lower graduation rate than the rate under the previous formula.” Despite the new calculation, the school district did not show a significant decrease in the rate.

Below are the graduation rates for the 2010-11 school year, by site and type of calculation method.

Clarke County School District
70.8% Previous (Leaver) Method
66.1% Cohort Method

Cedar Shoals High School
71.7% Previous (Leaver) Method
67.8% Cohort Method

Clarke Central High School
74.1% Previous (Leaver) Method
70.8% Cohort Method

Classic City High School is not reported with Adequate Yearly Progress due to the small number of students in attendance. The program is designed to provide additional flexibility for students, and may assist students who need more time to graduate.

“We have placed a strong focus on both the graduation rate and the cohort method of ensuring graduation within four years. Because of that, our graduation rate is holding true,” said Lanoue.

The rate is calculated by the following:

Number of cohort members who earned a regular high school diploma

by the end of the 2010- 2011 school year

divided by number of first-time 9th graders in fall 2007 (starting cohort) plus students who transfer in,

minus students who transfer out, emigrate or die during school years

2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011

The previous method did not define the cohort. The new method defines the cohort when students first become a freshman, and the rate is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years. The current leaver method defines the cohort upon graduation, which includes students who take more than four years to graduate.

“We know that not all students are the same and not all will graduate from high school in four years, so we asked for the U.S. Department of Education’s permission to use a five-year cohort graduation rate for federal accountability purposes,” said Barge. “Ultimately, our goal is to ensure each child will graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and a career, regardless of how long it takes.”

With 21 schools and over 12,000 students, the Clarke County School District offers students both diversity and a culture of academic excellence. The district was recognized as Georgia’s top school district for closing the achievement gap as a Title I Distinguished District. For more information, visit www.clarke.k12.ga.us.

##

posted @ Monday, May 14, 2012 - 23:42

In Da Bed Togethah! ATown Jus' Keeps On Truckin'!

Ed – For the record, I had no influence over any personnel decisions at the ABH this year or any other. I wouldn't want that influence, as independent journalism is important to me. I tried to call you on the last number I had for you, but it didn’t get through. I’m always available to talk further. 706-369-9457.
-Kelly

posted @ Monday, May 14, 2012 - 18:04

Ellis: Clarke schools provide great educational experience

@roebling: To clarify: graduation rates do represent a quantifiable measure, in the form of Carnegie Units (credits) earned, as well as statewide standardized tests that are passed (formerly Georgia High School Graduation Tests, now End of Course Tests).

posted @ Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 08:08

Gub'mint Cluster-Fluck 2011: part one

I posted this on the discussion under this morning's ABH article, and wanted to share it here, too...

Fear not, gathered AthensTalks readers. On street parking rates are definitely NOT going up to $2 per hour. The staff-written agenda report will be revised to set a rate wherein 1) rates are equalized between the deck and the street, and 2) revenues from the entire system are sufficient to cover the bond debt. The report on our agenda last night was poorly written and simply raised on-street rates to $2, parallel with what the deck rates would need to be if ONLY the deck revenues were going to cover the deck. We will delay this for a month and present more rational systemwide rates.
Sincerely,
Kelly

posted @ Friday, April 22, 2011 - 13:10

A new look at parking

Fear not, gathered ABH readers. On street parking rates are definitely NOT going up to $2 per hour. The staff-written agenda report will be revised to set a rate wherein 1) rates are equalized between the deck and the street, and 2) revenues from the entire system are sufficient to cover the bond debt. The report on our agenda last night was poorly written and simply raised on-street rates to $2, parallel with what the deck rates would need to be if ONLY the deck revenues were going to cover the deck. We will delay this for a month and present more rational systemwide rates.
Sincerely,
Kelly

posted @ Friday, April 22, 2011 - 10:52

Greenway expansion moving up

Hey, davidxto -
ACC has never used eminent domain for the Greenway, and I don't expect to see that change. Negotiations always involve the property owners - in the case of the 2011 SPLOST package, this includes the Board of Regents/UGA, land behind some apartments, cemetery property and undeveloped multifamily land. I hope this helps.
Sincerely,
Kelly Girtz

posted @ Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 10:43

Pay by smartphone

In addition to using smartphones as a method of payment, they seem to be the next frontier in accepting payment, making small business ownership easier and easier, especially in developing countries. This piece was on the radio yesterday:
http://www.npr.org/2011/01/18/132909147/small-businesses-square-away-cli...

posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 18:23

Is panhandling still a problem downtown?

@davidxto

I'm all over the place in my daily travels, and I'd definitely extend any protection afforded to downtown to other areas of Athens. Downtown has such a concentration of this problem that many associate it with that area, but you (and many of the other posters on this thread) are right: large stretches of town are rife with similar activities.

posted @ Thursday, November 4, 2010 - 19:43

Is panhandling still a problem downtown?

I'm late to the party, but wanted to mention a thing or two.

Athens is a hub in every way - for services, entertainment, shopping, dining, employment, etc., so it is not surprising that panhandlers cluster here as well. People are resourceful and they look for opportunities. And, of course, employment options are not so hot lately. It is worth saying that for every scammer that approaches me (and there are many..."I just need cash to get a ride to Mon-roe"), there are many legitimately downtrodden folks around.

Still, there are reasonable limits around street interactions. Among them is the current code, which basically dictates that one "no" is enough. Beyond that, any yelling, chasing, or haranguing is enough to warrant police assistance.

There are also some towns that go a bit further and have regulations relating to specific situations. For example, Asheville outlaws panhandling in or near banks and ATMs, and it also seems reasonable to prohibit it at sidewalk cafes, as those people are customers of private businesses.

What would you think about those additions to ACC Code?

posted @ Thursday, November 4, 2010 - 17:05

Poverty in Athens

Hi Amy,
There are a bunch of directions that you might go with your writing, but here are a few options that might be interesting:
• The historical arc of poverty in the Athens area is interesting. Over the last century, the population in poverty has moved from a rural setting, working in fields, to being employed in urban factories, to service work running cash registers and preparing food. Throughout these changes in location and occupation, why has low-achievement been a mainstay for a large part of our population?
• Related to that, even as education has become compulsory in the last fifty years, bringing into classrooms many students that would have once been excluded, has the style and format of schools shifted or broadened to handle this influx?
• Are residential patterns in the area making it easy for some segments of the community to ignore poverty? Is it a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for those that don’t have to live near residents in poverty?
• Are major institutions in Athens – UGA, local government, the business community – performing outreach that will connect those in poverty to these groups in a permanent, meaningful way?
• Many beneficent organizations are doing great things to keep drastic impacts of poverty at bay. As a result, the proportion of entirely unfed and unhoused residents in the area is meager compared to say, Sudan or Afghanistan. However, are we doing anything systemic to ensure that we don’t have to continue to offer ‘band-aids’ at the same level for a generation or more to come? In other words, are we making sure that children born into poverty today will be better off than their parents?

Call or email if you have any other questions I can answer, or if I can help in any way.

Best wishes with your work,
Kelly

posted @ Sunday, September 19, 2010 - 23:34

Downtown master plan --legacy buildings ???

Oracular Spectacular,
I appreciate the shout out, but jeez…Stalin? Stalin practiced revisionist history by pretending that things happened differently than was accurate. In his case, this was failure to acknowledge the deaths of millions at the hands of his army, or the earlier fiction around the storming of the Tsar’s Winter Palace.

In contrast, the local example you reference is an effort to make better decisions with better information. I fully understand that the Charter calls for a Service Delivery Plan for sewer service for Athens-Clarke, which is widely (and reasonably) interpreted as a call for public sewer lines to be available to all parcels in the county. My central point is that running sewer lines throughout Clarke County is poor planning, both fiscally and environmentally, and that we need to look at the details of topography, ecology and existing infrastructure as we plan future sewer extensions. It only makes sense for the Charter’s language and wise planning to work in concert. Honesty and clarity should be the goal with the language in public documents such as the Charter, and this is what I seek.

Best to ya,
Kelly

posted @ Friday, September 3, 2010 - 15:41

Jobless Giving Up

Two quick contemporary snapshots:

1) A former six-figure-earner in sales/marketing who was laid-off from a job in Seattle has returned home to Athens and has been working with me in a high school classroom for six months as an 'interventionist' - a small step above a paraprofessional. Eight bucks an hour. Before being laid-off she wanted to scale-back, just not QUITE this much.

2) Athens Tech is hiring a part time evening receptionist for our building. Eight hours a week, ten dollars an hour. They expected three or four applicants and received thirty, including one from an attorney.

posted @ Friday, August 20, 2010 - 13:26

Jobless Giving Up

@Andrea: Who knows how these things work, but I just had a graduate from two years ago who was BEGGING me for work for months and months stop by my office to tell me he had a job.

I can only hope it means the dam will break for some of the rest of those we know.

And jeez...I was going for whimsical, not creepy! The bunny is part of a playground, for heaven's sake.

posted @ Thursday, August 19, 2010 - 17:05

Jobless Giving Up

The official unemployment numbers are always a few points under the number of healthy people not working, and with the desperation factor pretty high these days (see the Overhead Door article in this morning's ABH, along with the litany of recent layoffs), it doesn't surprise me that the gap between official and actual numbers is widening.

Just anecdotally, many more of my students' parents seem hit by unemployment in recent years, and I can imagine how hard it is to wake up for the seventh, or tenth, or twentieth month of looking for work and have any will at all to keep up the effort.

If you want to play around with bad news data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics webpage below pulls the numbers apart based on level of education, race, sex, etc. (I don't do this just for a good time...it's part of what I talk to high school kids about as they contemplate the road ahead.)

http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost?ln

This site is pretty easy to use. For one stunning piece of data, just check out the difference between the unemployment numbers for the highest and lowest educational levels listed.

Best wishes; I know it is ROUGH out there.

posted @ Thursday, August 19, 2010 - 16:38

Four-legged hired hands go to town on kudzu

Oracle - You can call me whatever you'd like...just call me! Smile

posted @ Thursday, August 19, 2010 - 09:24

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