School leaders respond to Congressman’s instruction to “up our education system” as Ft. Gordon grows


US Congressman Rick urges Augusta-Area schools to improve as Fort Gordon expands. Representative Rick Allen told NewsChannel 6 Richmond and Columbia County Schools have to provide the kind of education incoming families will be looking for to set their families up for success.

“The biggest challenge we’ve got is we have got to up our education system,” Rep. Rick Allen told NewsChannel 6. “Fairfax County in Virginia has the best school system in the United States of America. They’re number one. How about Richmond and Columbia County being number one and we have the opportunity to do that because we got people coming here that are going to have the students at the level. They’re going to want that type of education.”

You have been hearing about the growth Fort Gordon is generating for years. Representative Allen is now drawing attention to the topic. He says he has met with multiple people looking to move their businesses here and these families will be looking for education.  

On Monday we sent NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Osborne to talk to both school systems about what they are doing to meet the demand. We asked what both districts are doing academically to educate students to set them up to take the jobs coming to our area. Also, what extracurricular activities they offer to mold kids who are figuring out who they want to be in the future.

Columbia County Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway says their goal is to give soldiers one less worry.

“We’ve got people out there who are fighting to protect our country and they don’t need to be worrying about their families and their children,” says Dr. Carraway.

She says they started prepping for the growth back in 2012 and in 2016 took a trip to the DC area.

“Our SAT score averages are very competitive with Virginia and Maryland. In fact, they are 30 points higher than the national average,” says Dr. Carraway. “The National Math and Science Institute awarded to us a grant for 4 of our high schools with the total of $2.7 million and with that they send people in from all over the nation to train our teachers to be better AP teachers—Advanced Placement teachers.”

Dr. Carraway points out that in Columbia County, softball and baseball are king with multiple state championships to prove it. Also, some of their marching bands rank highest in the state. They also have clubs dedicated to cyber security.

“Our students have won many competitions in that already and it’s really only in its second year,” Dr. Carraway says.

Over in Richmond County, Spokesperson Kaden Jacobs says they have the highest graduation rate in the last 10 years and the same goes for ACT and SAT scores.  

“We got a half a million dollars the other day from the National Math and Science Initiative for AP Computer science classes for college readiness programs at 4 high schools,” Jacobs explains. “We received a large grant for the arts in the Hephzibah cluster earlier in the year.”

Jacobs describes how they are one of the only districts to have all military branches represented in JROTC also award-winning fine arts programs.  

Jacobs encourages young parents and new families to consider the current Richmond County School System and not focus on the past.

“We’re whole different district now than we were 5 or 10 years ago,” Jacobs says. “We’ve increased access to technology. We’ve increased test scores. Our professional learning for our teachers has increased. We’re much more efficient district than we used to be and we’re doing a lot of good things to improve student achievement.”

Both districts talked about the ongoing partnership they share with Ft. Gordon and the leadership on post.

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