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District to temporarily relocate therapeutic services

Statesboro High & both Portal campuses

to host services for second semester


Portal schools to host information session

for public Mon., 5:30 p.m. at PES 


Bulloch County Schools, in cooperation with the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS), will temporarily relocate the therapeutic services currently offered to K-12 children to available space at Portal Elementary School, Portal Middle High School, and Statesboro High School for the second semester, beginning January 7 through May 24. The need for the immediate, temporary relocation was unforeseen and due to structural damage at existing school system space that resulted from damage by two hurricanes and repeated recent severe weather events. 


The principals of each of the Portal schools will host a joint informational meeting for school councils and the public on Mon., Dec. 10, at 5:30 p.m., in the Portal Elementary School Cafeteria. They will present how their specific schools will serve and accommodate all children. 


Some of the children are already enrolled in regular education classes at Statesboro High School and Southeast Bulloch High School for a portion of the day, so Statesboro High School will host a GNETS class to serve them the remainder of the day. Any parents who would like additional information about this location can contact the principal of SHS.


The school system will also make available a list of frequently asked questions about the relocation to better inform all parents. The principals and GNETS informed their faculty and staff this week, so that work could begin to finalize specific transition details. 


The change will not displace any educational or therapeutic services provided to either the existing children in Portal or Statesboro or the visiting children from other peer schools.  Bulloch County Schools’ faculty and staff, as well as those for the GNETS center, will continue to provide all children with their right to a free, safe, and equitable education. The district, the Portal schools, and Statesboro High School are committed to doing everything we can to make this an easy transition for all.


Why does Bulloch County Schools host GNETS?

The Bulloch County School District has an assurance agreement with the First District Regional Education Services Agency (RESA) for 2018-2019, to provide classroom space for 37 children from Bulloch, Evans, and Jenkins counties. The children receive half-day or full-day academic and therapeutic services from qualified, trained GNETS faculty. The center is called Cedarwood, and a majority of the children (31) live in Bulloch County, and are enrolled in our schools.


Cedarwood is one of 24 GNETS service centers in the state that serve approximately 4,800 children.  Only three counties within First District RESA’s 16-county service area choose to use the facility. The remaining 13 counties serve their children who need therapeutic services within regular school setting or other facilities within the First District. Cedarwood is currently located in the former Julia P. Bryant Elementary School on Donnie Simmons Way in Statesboro. Cedarwood has occupied the facility since 2013, and was previously located at the Langston Chapel Schools and then Evans County Schools.  It was relocated to the current site after enrollment growth at the Langston Chapel schools and the scheduled demolition of a building in Evans County led to the need.


Why is the temporary relocation necessary? 

Hurricane Matthew caused damage to the roof which was successfully patched, and the school district established a plan to make cosmetic and full roof renovations to the facility in the summer of 2018. However, further damage occurred with Hurricane Michael that caused previous repairs to fail, and more recent severe rains continue to exacerbate leaks to a portion of the building. We now have a situation that can't be repaired or replaced in an adequate or timely manner.  After meeting with architects and thoroughly exploring other options and available space within the district, we will move forward with the renovation project and temporary move.


The damage affects two classrooms, and while the school system has ceased use of those classrooms, and the remaining classrooms meet safety codes, it is not feasible to fully provide the children equitable services for the remainder of the school year in the reduced space.  Also, to prevent further deterioration of the affected space, repairs to the roof are needed as soon as possible. With the acceptance of an $807,613 state grant to fund renovations, Bulloch County Schools plans to commit to house regional GNETS services for the next 10 years. 


Who are the children who receive services at Cedarwood?

Cedarwood offers academic and therapeutic services to children in grades K-12 who need an extra level of support due to emotional and/or behavioral difficulties identified by their zoned school’s individualized education plan (IEP) committee. The majority (31 of 36) are children who live in Bulloch County and are enrolled in schools in the Bulloch County School District.


Cedarwood is not an alternative learning facility. The children are not being disciplined nor have they been expelled from their zoned schools. The children are held to the same code of conduct and behavior expectations as all students in Bulloch County. Their teachers, counselors, parents and district special education professionals have simply identified a need for extra support. 


While children receive therapeutic services at Cedarwood, it is GNETS’s and the school system’s goal to provide them with the skills to reintegrate into their home school settings to the greatest extent possible. This is done by providing smaller classes, individualized instruction, special therapeutic services, social skills training, and a highly-monitored environment. With this support many children learn to manage or overcome their emotional behavior issues and return to their zoned schools to be successful at school, on athletic teams, in extra-curricular organizations or are involved in activities in the community. 


This school year the majority (57 percent) of the children in seventh – twelfth grade at Cedarwood, return to their regular, zoned schools daily to take one to four classes with their regular education peers.  This support and effort toward equitable inclusion is one reason that Cedarwood was named the top GNETS facility in the state in 2017.


How many GNETS classes will be at each school?

There are 36 students who receive services through GNETS at Cedarwood.  For the temporary relocation, the children will be divided based on service needs and age.  This is the breakdown per school.

Portal Elementary – 1 class

Portal Middle High School – 4 classes

Statesboro High School – 1 class


Each school had available, underutilized space that could accommodate the classes without displacing their student peers.


Note:  A more comprehensive list of frequently asked questions is attached.

Posted by: Hayley Greene, District Admin, Bulloch County Schools Published:12/6/18
Audience: Homepage, News Archive, Homepage, News/Data, News Archive and News & Data