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December 15--  The Georgia Department of Education has selected the Vidalia City School System to participate in the state's "Race To The Top," a $400 million effort to improve public schools.

Vidalia is one of five systems in the state to be selected, according to Associate State School Superintendent Clara Keith.  

"One of the things we know about Vidalia City schools is that they are committed to constantly looking at how they deploy their resources whether they be financial or human resources.  I think Dr. Smith is always looking at ways to improve and he likes to use data to determine how they can improve and this will be an important process," Keith says.

A Massachusetts' based company, Education Resource Strategies, will conduct the evaluation over a two-year period and give Vidalia school system leaders an objective look at the system.

"We already think we have a great school system, but we also know there may be holes in our curriculum or our resource allocation and this provides us an opportunity to look at things we're not seeing," says Vidalia Assistant School Superintendent Lucy Claroni.  

"You know when you write a paper and you can't really see your own mistakes, you give it to someone else to edit and they can find your errors, so that's kind of what we're doing at this point," Claroni notes.

In other news from this week's Vidalia school board meeting, Claroni informed the board the system is applying for a $1.2 million dollar literacy grant and will find out in February if it is approved.

Meanwhile, the school board's construction committee is proceeding with selection of a project manager to oversee renovation of J.D. Dickerson Primary School and some new construction at J.R. Trippe Middle School.  Four firms are in the final running including Harry Moses Construction and McDonald Construction, both of Vidalia, along with firms from Macon and Dublin.  A meeting with the firms is set for December 29th to make a final selection.