CIS updates LaGrange council on program

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 24, 2022

As part of its annual report, Communities in Schools in Troup County, a local branch of the state-wide educational program, updated the LaGrange City Council on its regular operations and how its efforts continue to grow.

CIS Executive Director Tabitha Lewis-Coverson shared the organization’s 2021 Case Managed Student Outcomes, which balances the program’s effects on the community. More than two-thirds — 69.5% — of CIS students see their grades improve and 72% have improved behavior. With a 67% improved attendance rate last year, 98% of Pre-K through eighth-grade students were promoted. Over 92% of seniors working with CIS graduated last year.

Lewis-Coverson credited the organization’s success partially with its recently hired engagement coordinator, Trenton Huzzie who locates and assists students who are not attending school. Next year, Huzzie will transition to Garden Newnan as a site coordinator, Lewis-Coverson said.

In the last school year, Huzzie worked with over 300 unengaged students, 11 of which returned to school to finish their high school courses and graduate, Lewis-Coverson said.   Lewis-Coverson explained how CIS has adjusted its budget to accommodate needs like affordable housing for its participants and their families, and has partnered with entities like WellStar who donate items like laundry detergent.

“A lot of our kids don’t come to school because they don’t have clean clothes,” Lewis-Coverson said.

During the 2020-2021 school year, 96% of CIS students stayed in school. Lewis-Coverson said that the Callaway Foundation, who funds the organization at $50,000 a year, further invested $400,000 into the education program.

Lewis-Coverson, said the funds would assist the program with helping students overcome learning obstacles and fuel CIS’ site coordinators working inside Troup County schools. CIS currently serves over 3,000 students through its program and now will have the capacity to serve as many as 1,300 more, Lewis-Coverson said.

CIS was additionally awarded a Building Opportunities for Out-of-School Time [BOOST] grant through the Georgia Department of Education for its summer enrichment program. CIS regularly serves 50 to 60 children during the summer program and now has to capacity to serve troves more, Lewis-Coverson said.

The summer program, which will now extend three, additional days assists participants with reading skills, public speaking and horizon-broadening through field trips.

“Not only are we trying to help [students] stay in school, but we’re also trying to help elevate them to leadership positions when they are in the community and people can see them,” she said.