District to form school size panel

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 20, 2000

Following cues from this month’s forum on a controversial plan to reduce school size, the Natchez-Adams School District is forming a committee to get public input.

The committee is to give the public a voice in the district’s improvement plans — something many feel has not taken place in the past.

Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis said this is one of the items he gathered from the Feb. 3 forum.

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&uot;Some of the people (who) spoke said when the plan was originally developed they had no input.&uot; he said.

The plan was developed in 1997 by PREPS, a group of state educational consultants. They said Natchez could reduce school size by reopening Braden School as a kindergarten through sixth-grade school and converting the district’s two primary schools and two upper elementary schools into K-6 schools.

Now the district wants to set that plan aside until the public has a chance to respond. &uot;I think at this point we need to hold off on that,&uot; Davis said of the PREPS plan.

The committee will give the public a chance to research what other options are legally possible.

&uot;We have to work within the frameworks of state law and in this case we’re going to have to work under the umbrella of the federal courts,&uot; Davis said.

Because of a 1989 federal consolidation order, the district can only operate the schools currently open. Any changes would require court approval.

School Board President Terry Estes said the board decided to set up the committee during last week’s regular meeting.

Both Estes and school board member Dr. David Steckler said the committee should help involve the public.

&uot;I think the committee is a very good thing if the the local citizens feel they don’t have enough knowledge and input about (the plan),&uot; Steckler said.

The district is putting together a list of people to serve on the committee. Davis said he hopes the members will not only have ideas but be able to develop the steps for change. He also hopes the controversy will not overshadow the good things in the district or hamper teachers in their work.

&uot;Our future is in our classroom every day here in Adams County and it’s up to us to make sure that future is bright for them,&uot; he said.

The first committee meeting should take place in March.