Leader Blues

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

EDITORIAL >> PCSSD must keep middle school open

A vendetta against Jacksonville Boys Middle School principal Mike Nellums by the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers and at least three school board members has resulted in a bad, half-baked policy that will play out to the detriment not only of Jacksonville Middle School students next year, but ironically of their teachers as well.

As a result of this vendetta, the board voted earlier this year on the motion of board member Bill Vasquez of Jacksonville to end single-gender education, close the building housing the girls, and beginning next year, to have coeducational middle school education in the building now occupied by the boys school.

This despite statistics showing a steady increase in the percentage of Jacksonville Middle School students who performed at or above grade level on benchmark tests in math and language. This despite statistics showing a steady decrease in the number of disciplinary problems at both schools over the three years of single-gender education.

This despite a lack of planning that will leave half of the teachers next year without a permanent classroom, traipsing from room to room with their belongings and teaching materials on carts that must be bought for just that purpose.

Kim Forrest, currently the girls school principal, has been named principal of the newly combined middle school for next year and Nellums was banished to the far side of the district.

Forrest has asked that the single-gender schools be given one more year, so the district can be better prepared, perhaps add some classrooms in preparation. But that would require the board to bring the matter up for another vote at the next meeting.

Some on the board are incapable of changing their minds about closing the boys school. But those with a conscience should remember the children and vote to keep the boys middle school open.