Board VP gets emotional over MPS system's struggles

Board VP gets emotional over MPS system's struggles
MPS Board VP Dr. Lesa Keith gets emotional talking about the system's struggles. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery County Board of Education Vice President Dr. Lesa Keith teared up multiple times during a sit-down with WSFA 12 News Friday morning.

"It is sad," Keith said. "It's very sad for the children."

On Wednesday, Interim State Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange held a news conference they said was intended to push the urgency of the situation facing MPS.

In that conference, Richardson confirmed hundreds of jobs MPS would have to cut in order to meet financial needs and discussed the severity of the low test scores in the system. Both of these factors are expected to play into the accreditation review the system will undergo in a few months.

"We are running out of time," Keith said.

While she did not attend the news conference, Keith watched a livestream of the comments made and the response from the community, as well as some of her fellow board members.

"You have a board and a preacher stand together and say 'bring on the train wreck'," Keith said. "They really think that what Dr. Richardson and Mayor Strange did was a bluff. They are calling the bluff, and it's not a bluff. Accreditation is not something to play with."

Keith was a teacher in MPS for 30 years. She now teaches at South University where she said a majority of her students come from Montgomery schools.

"It's sad when you have 70 percent of the students come to South who can't read or do math have dreams of being nurses and me, being the success director, having to say 'Hey, let's think about something else'," she explained.

Keith said that is already the case, even with MPS accredited, simply due to low student achievement in the system. She said it will only get worse if MPS loses its accreditation.

Keith says she takes full responsibility, as a board member, for MPS's status, but feels some of her fellow board members have failed to do that. She is one of the five board members who will be up for re-election in June. She said, even if it means her losing her seat, she believes new leadership is necessary to move MPS forward.

"Schools at one percent proficiency in math and reading is criminal," Keith said. "It's wrong, and this public has got to standup. When they go to vote on June 5, they need to vote for every member on there."

Copyright 2018 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.