MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Interim Alabama State School Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson gave a blunt assessment of Montgomery Public Schools during Thursday's board meeting and said he's working on an "aggressive" plan to fix the situation.
"I hope to convey to the board this is a big time problem, and we have a lot of work to do before the [accreditation] team comes next year. If the team came this year, we would not be accredited," Richardson said.
The loss of accreditation would be devastating to the school system, especially high school seniors.
Richardson has asked the regional accrediting body, AdvancEd, to come to Montgomery to address the MPS board because he believes the board has undue influence on the district. That will happen on Jan. 30.
"He's not coming to say you are in trouble," Richardson explained. "He's coming to talk about what the formal review of MPS will be like in the next school year."
According to the superintendent, three factors typically impact accreditation: Financial stability, undue influence in the day to day operations of the system by board members, and whether students are making continuous progress. Richardson said all three are problem areas.
Richardson told state board members the school system intervention is taking more time than it should.
"We are getting past the damage control phase, and are now moving in an aggressive manner in many of the issues that lie before us," Richardson said.
A packet will be submitted to the Montgomery Public School Board by Jan. 26 that will answer several questions including what criteria were used to justify intervention, what it will take to remove the intervention and how long it will take.
The superintendent said he will present his plan for dealing with MPS financial and academic difficulties and cautioned "there will be major changes."
"It is my intention that teachers in the classroom will not be affected," Richardson went on. "You can not improve on academic deficiencies by releasing teachers. It just does not make sense."
But he warned that could change if there are performance issues "or if they lose another 500, 600, 700 students."