Committee explores concerns about school plan

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 7, 2000

Members of a committee charged with investigating a controversial plan to reorganize public elementary schools discussed their concerns about the plan Thursday.

Twenty-one people attended the first meeting of the Natchez-Adams&160;County School District Educational Facility Plan for K-6 Committee.

Of the 40 community residents asked to join the group, 26 said they were interested in being involved, said Kenneth Taylor, school board president and committee chairman.

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The purpose of the committee is to get community input into a controversial district plan designed to reduce school crowding.

The committee members began their work by each taking a turn expressing their thoughts about the plan.

Their concerns ranged from such issues as the definition of an overcrowded school, the alleged effectiveness of the proposed plan, whether to reopen a school or a build a new building and the scheduling and nurturing problems at larger schools. Some members also had a desire to be educated on issues related to elementary education.

&uot;I need to be able to have a body of information that will assist me in making whatever recommendation I am going to make,&uot;&160;the Rev. Windell Greene said.

The plan proposed by the district includes opening Braden School on Homochitto Street as a kindergarten to sixth-grade elementary school and converting Frazier Primary, West Primary, McLaurin Elementary and Morgantown Elementary into kindergarten to sixth-grade schools.

Any plan of this type will require federal court approval since a group of local residents won an integration lawsuit against the district in 1989. The lawsuit requires the district to operate only the schools now open.

All of the plaintiffs — Phillip West, Carolyn West, George Harden, Deborah Harden, Carolyn Nichols and Lonnie Nichols — were invited to join the committee, but none were present Thursday. Taylor said Phillip West had told him he wanted to be involved and had wanted to be at the meeting. And Deborah Harden had at one point expressed an interest, he said. The committee will meet the first Thursday of each month and will eventually issue its findings to the school board.