June 20, 2020 – A unanimous Board vote to begin the process of exploring name changes for six schools was among the main focal points of June’s School Board meeting.
The meeting also included a presentation on equity from Dr. Greene and a series of votes from the School Board on boundary changes for six elementary schools. Brief overviews are below.
Renaming schools – the process begins
“We have come to a place and time in the history of our city, that we must begin the process of renaming all the schools named for a Confederate soldier. This effort can help to heal a city that is fractured.”
So began the letter that School Board Chair Warren A. Jones sent to Board members before Tuesday’s meeting formally requesting to initiate the renaming process for six schools.
- Joseph Finegan Elementary
- Stonewall Jackson Elementary
- Jefferson Davis Middle
- Kirby-Smith Middle
- E.B. Stuart Middle
- Robert E. Lee High
The Board voted unanimously to accept Jone’s request. This vote does not mean the school names will automatically be changed or changed at all. It does mean that district leaders will now initiate a formal process involving the stakeholders at each school (students, staff, SAC, PTA, alumni, and community members within the attendance zone).
Using this process, the superintendent will make a recommendation to the School Board. The School Board will then take action on that recommendation.
Increasing Equity – moving from compliance to commitment
“Students are not interested in our policies. They are interested in how we feel about them. ‘Do you value me?’”
In her report to the Board, Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene shared how she believed the district had done a good job in creating strong policies on equity and inclusion, but still had much farther to go.
She noted the gap in both achievement among black and white students, as well as the disparity in who received more out-of-school suspensions. Her report showed that African American students make up 44 percent of enrollment but account for 75 percent of suspensions.
“We have made great strides, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Dr. Greene. “We have to do a comprehensive review of what we’re doing in our schools.”
Overall, the superintendent said, it is time to move from compliance to commitment.
Dr. Greene discussed several action steps she is recommending to increase equity and inclusiveness on our campuses. These include adding personnel devoted to student support and expanding training and professional development for staff.
Update on consolidation plans for six elementary schools
“Our plan reduces administrative costs by right-sizing the district and phasing out small, inefficient schools in very poor physical condition.”
On Tuesday, the Board voted on consolidations involving six elementary schools. Below is a summary:
- Saint Clair Evans and Carter G. Woodson – For the 2020-21 school year, Saint Clair Evans students will move out of their current building and into what was formerly Northwestern Middle School. A new name will be created.
Carter G. Woodson will remain the same. However, if the school makes a C grade or higher this year, it will be merged into the new elementary school with Saint Clair Evans beginning 2021-22.
- Brentwood and North Shore – Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, Brentwood Elementary School will be consolidated into North Shore Elementary. North Shore Elementary has a newer campus and was built for a much larger capacity. (North Shore was built in 2008, while Brentwood was built in 1915.)
- John Love and Long Branch – Beginning the 2020-21 school year, John Love Elementary will merge with Long Branch Elementary onto Long Branch’s campus.
Background – These school mergers and boundary changes were among dozens of updates to schools approved in the district’s Master Facility Plan last year.
The plan, which was approved by the Board in July 2019, includes the construction of new facilities, consolidation of existing facilities, renovations, and the elimination of most portables.
The next step?
Parents will receive notification of their child’s school assignment based on the approved changes from the Board meeting. Parents may also contact the district’s School Choice at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information regarding their assigned school or other special transfer options.”