The Jackson Madison County School Board met for a two-day retreat at Montgomery Bell State Park, during which time the group proposed a third rezoning plan, referred to as Plan C.
Based on instructions and team-training during the team-building exercise part of the retreat board members first identified “Results” they wanted to achieve. Those results included; 100 percent graduation rates, As and Bs on the state report card, more parent engagement, and graduating student prepared to enter college or a post high school vo–tech school.
Superintendent Dr Nancy Zambito explains;
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Decisions were evaluated whether it brought the board closer to the “results” they wanted.
The board discussed student assignment based on accomplishing racial balance and came to the consensus they would not be guided by race in student assignment but “do what they thought was right for the children”. The decision included even if that means not getting Unitary Status. The board's attorney, Dale Conder, is to report to the federal judge about the board's decision to come up with a plan to address student assignment. All the parties’ attorneys in the school system's desegregation lawsuit are scheduled to meet with Judge Samuel Mays Feb. 26.
At this retreat mtg the board members discussed a proposal to eliminate the intermediate school transition so students would change schools a maximum of three times instead of four school changes.
Director of Operations Buddy White explains the direction they received from the board
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Board members were reminded by the chairman Dr Linda Pride, Supt. Dr. Zambito, and D of Ops Buddy White these proposals were the results of the months and years of research, work, and committee recommendation, including; community focus groups made up of teachers, administrators, local community and business leaders, and parents who all reached the same conclusion. Still some Board members expressed doubts and concerns about the plan. Carol Carter-Estes said she would like to “take their time” saying there was “nothing magical” about committee recommendations. Anne Henning-Rowen wanted to not rush into a decision saying she would like to know why a previous board had made the transition from three to four school changes. All the Board members agreed their own experience of fewer grade transitions worked for them and in the end instructed the Central Office to come up with a plan, making it clear nothing was decided.
SOUND CLIP Board Chairman Dr Linda Pride was clear, she thinks enough time has been spent on discussion and it is tame to take action. “We have talked about this issue for three years, we have beat this issue into the ground”
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Other plans were discussed including a proposal to close Washington Douglas school and reassign Whitehall school.
The proposal calls for Whitehall school to become a Pre-K and Special Ed center and for the students currently attending that school to be reassigned to new but nearby schools. Dr Zambito left the retreat and went directly back to Jackson for the purpose of notifying administrators and teacher of the proposal. Here is a copy of her letter
This afternoon we ended the school board retreat. It was a really productive and helpful meeting. The conversation today remained focused on the goals of graduating 100% of our students prepared to be successful in college or whatever post high school training or education they choose to pursue. It was determined that goal needs to be reached in a fiscally responsible manner. Reaching those goals will bring the state report card grades to A's and B's.
At the board's request, my staff and I will prepare and present to the board another plan for moving schools to k-5, 6-8 and 9-12, trying to move students closer to home as much as practicable. We aren't talking about "neighborhood schools" because that really isn't possible unless someone happens to live right down the street from a school.
Additionally we will present a plan to move the pre-k students currently taught at the Washington Douglas School into the Whitehall School building to create a Pre-K center and the current staff and students at Whitehall into other elementary schools.
NONE OF THIS has been decided upon but the board has asked to review the two proposals at the February, 2010 work session.
This information will probably show up in Sunday's newspaper and I wanted you to have a "heads up". Remember please, none of this is finalized...just up for discussion at the work session. Please enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Nancy S. Zambito
Dr Zambito talks about Whitehall and Washington Douglas
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If this proposal is put into action pre-k programs at Beech Bluff, Denmark, South and Arlington would remain open
The Jackson-Madison County School Board will continue to discuss its new rezoning proposal and other related business at its Feb. 8 work session.