Intervention plan sparks public backlash during MPS board meetin - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Intervention plan sparks public backlash during MPS board meeting

Montgomery School Board officials held their first meeting since the state unveiled an aggressive intervention plan. (Source: WSFA 12 News) Montgomery School Board officials held their first meeting since the state unveiled an aggressive intervention plan. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Montgomery School Board officials held their first meeting since the state unveiled an aggressive intervention plan.

During the meeting, board members and Montgomery residents alike shared strong opinions about the plan, which calls for major changes.

The plan, released by Interim Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson on Friday, calls for cuts to personnel and property. In all, three schools will be closed and put up for sale.

A fourth school, Georgia Washington Middle School, is already under contract to be sold to the Town of Pike Road within 30 days of Friday's announcement. Students attending those schools will be re-zoned based on a pending evaluation from MPS on where the system has room to move students. 

Even though the plan included a number of cuts and changes the people and some school board members wanted to talk about the sale of Georgia Washington. The sale is a direct reversal of a previous decision made by the local school board.

Alma Bowen, an alumna of Georgia Washington, addressed the board asking, "Why have a school board if it doesn't have a voice?"

Other residents took their three-minute time to speak to express frustration about the sale of the school after they were told it would not happen, once the board voted against. 

Two local pastors said the move would "disenfranchise" the students who currently attend Georgia Washington. 

Despite the sale agreement stating that the name of the school would not change, to preserve its history, another resident said, "There are some things you do not sell for money. You cannot sell my heritage. You cannot sell my dignity."

Board member Arica Smith agreed with these community members by saying, "You take a black middle school and sell it to a predominately white school system. If that's not racism, then I don't know what is."

Board President Robert Porterfield encouraged meeting attendees to keep pushing to stop the sale. 

"We will not sell the school," Porterfield told meeting attendees, "I'm with the people. We will not sell that school."

Porterfield said Richardson's plan was "sprung on" board members, who had not heard about it prior to Friday's press conference. 

Meanwhile, other residents like retired MPS teacher of 30 years, KT Brown, said Richardson's plan is necessary. 

"We've gone so far backwards," Brown said. "This is seemingly the only way to get out of the hole."

Brown said Richardson's points about lacking student achievement, the need to address student discipline, clean up finances and build strong leadership are things she has pushed since she got into education. 

"I cannot figure out what's wrong with MPS," Brown said. "I never have, but now I have hope."

However, Bowen was one of the meeting attendees who said the community is working on action to combat the sale of Georgia Washington. 

"It's never too late," Bowen said. "It's not too late, and if need be, we will take this all the way to the Supreme Court."

Board members also discussed parts of the intervention plan that cut their travel budget, a total of more than $50,000, and stated MPS would address students who didn't hit the benchmark for standardized testing this spring. 

Board member Melissa Snowden said she was concerned about losing the travel budget because they are required to attend training. Other board members agreed.

"We certainly should not be deprived of our professional development," Porterfield said. 

Board member Mary Briers said Richardson's decision to cut the travel budget was a way to put them in "time out" for not "doing what he wants". 

As for the plan to help students whose scores are below standards this spring, Interim Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore said the system is working on summer programming and additional instructional opportunities to get those students where they need to be. 

Moore also clarified, despite negative feelings about the Georgia Washington sale, that MPS is preparing to release the dates and times for informational meetings regarding the schools that will not open within MPS next school year. 

"We are not calling these public hearings," Moore said. "They are informational meetings."

She said there will be an opportunity for parents to come get details on things like re-zoning and bus routes for next school year. 

Initially, Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Reginald Eggleston said he would have those dates and times this week. However, on Tuesday, Moore said it may take more time because a facilities team within MPS is working to compile data to figure out how to shift the enrollment within the system with the available buildings. 

Copyright 2018 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved. 

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