MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Dr. Ann Roy Moore, superintendent of Montgomery Public Schools, attended a town hall meeting hosted by the Montgomery County Council PTA on Thursday night at Carver High School.
Meeting attendees had the opportunity to write questions on note cards and listen to Dr. Moore’s answers. The host group said the questions centering around the state intervention and accreditation process would take priority.
“Those are the things people are asking us about the most,” said moderator Deena Weston. “A lot of people don’t know what intervention is, what it means and who is in charge.”
Moore said she being visible and available to answer these questions is important to her.
“Part of the superintendent’s job is to meet and communicate with people in the community,” said Moore. “You need them.”
Moore explained the state intervention to meeting attendees as the state having “some oversight and strong influence” over the system, but maintained that she and leads the day-to-day operations for MPS.
She said the intervention was at a “stand-still” when she officially started on June 1st. Since then, she said her team has made major progress.
Moore said the three main issues that led to the intervention were safety, finances and student achievement. She said MPS successfully addressed all of the problems surrounding safety and buses.
She said, when she started, the school board had not submitted a budget for the current school year or the previous two school years. Moore said all of those budgets were submitted, and next year’s budget was turned in on time as well. She credits Arthur Watts, newly hired CSFO, and Brenda Palmer, the former interim CSFO, for getting that done.
“The student achievement will take time,” said Moore. “It’s the hardest part, and it won’t happen over night.”
However, Moore said the system is “hitting it hard” and focusing on equipping teachers and principals make the difference in the classroom.
Moore assured the crowd she has experience with intervention, after working as an interventionist in Selma. She said, while each intervention is different, she knows how to work through them.
She said the state has pulled back substantially do the system’s progress, the state department is letting her do her job and acting has a helpful resource.
She said the intervention, which she called “a label,” may stay for the next few years but the system is making progress.
“We are accredited; we never lost accreditation,” said Moore. “I want to be very clear about that.”
Moore said MPS has addressed the six priorities given from AdvancED when the group came for a special review in May and labeled the system “accredited under review.”
According to Moore, some of those efforts included updating policies and testing student engagement.
“They’re looking for progress,” Moore said.
AdvancED is expected to return in December for a monitoring review. Moore said the district is working to get the updated information to the accrediting body before the holidays.
“I have no doubt we will pass the special review with flying colors because we have worked very hard," Moore said,
Once the special review process is complete, Moore said AdancED will return, likely during the next school year, for a standard accreditation review, and she is confident MPS' accreditation will be successfully renewed at that time.
Moore was asked questions about deteriorating buildings, students not having textbooks and a shortage of substitute and permanent teachers. She attributed all of those issues to a lack of public funding.,
“I’ve never seen a system this size try to survive on 10 mills," said Moore. “Not with the number of students we serve.”
Moore said systems of comparable size often have nearly double the millage.
“If you look at the systems that are able to do what we want to do here, they have more than 10 mills,” Moore said.
She also said the trouble to recruit teachers is in large part due to the way the media and the public “talk about” the school system.
“We have to change the rhetoric,” Moore said.
Moore said MPS’ greatest strength is quality of teachers, and she said the greatest weakness is a lack of community support.
Weston said everyone who wrote a question that wasn’t able to be answered in the meeting time frame had the opportunity to give their information to MPS' communications office to receive a call back in the coming days.
She said, depending on feedback from the community, the council likely hold similar meetings in the future.