Residents: Do what’s best for children

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 7, 1999

Natchez residents agree the community needs to do what is best for its children.

That includes opening Braden School, on Homochitto Street, as a fifth elementary school.

&uot;I’m for it 100 percent if it would releave some of the overcrowding in the schools,&uot;&160;said Eva Dunkley of the NAACP.

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But a solution to overcrowding is not as easy as opening another school.

Federal Judge William Barbour issued a 1989 court order, after a group of Natchez residents complained that Natchez schools were not properly integrated.

The order prohibits the district from opening or closing any school without permission.

The order caused crowding at several schools but insured a more evenly balanced racial mix of students.

Dunkley said as long as zoning is done properly, she still thinks the idea is good.

&uot;I don’t have a problem with it as long as kids are not hand-picked to go to a certain school,&uot; Dunkley said. &uot;I’ m always going to support the school system as long as whatever decision is made is going to help all the children.&uot;

Right now, the Natchez-Adams School District operates two primary schools and two upper elementary schools.

The district would like to turn Braden and four other schools, West, Frazier, Morgantown and McLaurin into K-6 schools.

This plan should reduce overcrowding at Morgantown and McLaurin, both of which have hundreds more students than they were designed to hold.

&uot;All the advantages are for the children, if we could open up another building,&uot;&160;said Mary Kate Garvin, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education.

In smaller schools, the staff can get to know the students better and discipline problems decrease, Garvin added.

Mary Woods, a third-grade teacher at Morgantown, also thinks the district should open a new school.

Woods has worked at Morgantown 11-years and has seen firsthand overcrowding problems.

More than 1100 students attend Morgantown. This makes it impossible for&160;Woods to know even all the third-graders at the school.

&uot;They all know me, but I don’t know them,&uot; Woods said. &uot;Children like to be known. They like to be called by their names.&uot;

She supports the district’s idea to reopen Braden.

&uot;I don’t see anything wrong with it as long as it means a better education for the children,&uot; Woods said. &uot;And that’s my main objective.&uot;

She also thinks the community needs to rally around the school district.

&uot;I don’t think the city as a whole or the county as a whole takes an interest in our children,&uot; Woods said.