Dr Connie Smith of the Tenn. Dept of Ed. was in Jackson to visit schools and to address the JMC school board about Fresh Start JCM, Liberty High School, and AYP scores.
She addressed the board’s questions about why the administration at JCM had to be replaced. Smith told the board that even though test scores were coming up that grad rate was on 57% and that was unacceptable. Asked why not give the administration that was in place time she told board members that it had been three years and the law required a change.
She told the board, “We (the state) were in constant contact with the director of schools about what had to be done” Smith also said “she (the director) couldn’t make a move without the state signing off” Smith told the board because of JCM’s graduation rate nothing short of restructure could be done or the state would have come in and taken over.
Smith applauded the board for working together with the state and the Director saying it would take a collaborative effort to bring our school system back to where it needs to be.
Smith said if all the parties work together JCM could and will be a model school and JMC will be a model system for the state and the country.
During some of the Q and A time Carol Carter-Estes asked questions about the time it would take to turn JCM around, having the Memphis consultants remain part of the state and the system’s team, and the leadership team at JCM. Carter Estes stated the questions saying she was going to have to leave early to attend Revival.
Smith repeated her previous statements about JCM saying that if the director had not taken dramatic action the state would have and that law required the previous administration including the principal Virginia Stackens-Crump be replaced.
Dr Smith told Carter-Estes and the other board members it was the states discretion when and how to use the consultants from the University of Memphis and that it was their conclusion that their team had done the job needed. Smith said she had complete confidence that Dr Zambito and her staff could implement the recommendations of the U of M plan and if not then they would address that at that time. Afterwards board member Billy Keeton again raised the question of Uof M asking Dr Green “do you believe your work is finished here?” Dr Green replied “that is not my call”
At a previous board meeting members Carter-Estes, Akin, and Keeton all showed interest in having the U of M team and Dr. Green brought back. Dr Zambito explained then their teams work had been completed and her staff would now work to implement recommendations.
One of those recommendations the board did not head which again was raised tonight by Dr Connie Smith was that the JMC school board participate in a board retreat facilitated by the state for board instructional purposes.