03/16/06 — Some city school slated to change grades this fall

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Some city school slated to change grades this fall

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 16, 2006 2:00 PM

Five elementary and middle schools in the inner city will be reorganized by the fall, in a move officials hope will improve test scores and student relationships.

The Board of Education approved the proposal Monday night made by Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor.

"We have for several years been looking at doing something different with regards to the grade configuration. It seems that now it's timely to put that in place," he said.

Three elementary schools and two middle schools will be affected by the move. Goldsboro High School will remain unchanged, with grades 9-12.

North Drive, School Street and Carver Heights elementary schools will drop a grade. Instead of being kindergarten through fifth-grade schools, they will stop at fourth grade.

Goldsboro Middle School, currently housing grades six through eight, will become a school for fifth- and sixth-graders. Dillard Middle School, also a grades six through eight school, will be the school for seventh- and eighth-grade students.

With the move, Goldsboro Middle School will be renamed Goldsboro Elementary School.

Principals at the elementary school will remain the same, with Goldsboro and Dillard's principals switching in the fall, Taylor said. Sylvester Townsend, currently at Goldsboro Middle, will move to Dillard, replacing Marvin McCoy, who will assume duties at the new Goldsboro Elementary School.

Taylor said student achievement and improvements to curriculum were among the reasons for the reorganization, as were better utilization of space and balancing out the number of students.

But also included in the rationale for the proposal, he said, is the possibility of improving students' relationships. He said the bi-products could include reduction of discipline problems and ultimately create a better foundation by the time students reach high school.

"Our sense is that this is directly tied to the student improvements," he said.

Board member Thelma Smith said she supported the idea.

"You might not realize that relationship-building is important, but it is," she said.

Mrs. Smith said the move will be a return to something the school system offered years ago, which produced the best results. She recalled growing up in an era where there were a lot of rivalries among the different parts of town, "but once we came together at Dillard High School in the seventh grade, it ended all of that."

The same thing exists today, she said, "except they're carrying guns and knives. So when they get to the ninth grade, they're bringing all this baggage. It takes a lot longer to build those relationships."

To bring students together as early as fifth grade will be helpful, she said.

"Everybody wants a community school but nobody seems concerned about the central attendance area staying together as a community," she said. "We need to focus them, bring them together as one in the central attendance area. It's got to help. It's got to make a big, big difference."

The new plan might even reduce or possibly eliminate some of the bullying that typically goes on "when you put sixth graders in there with eighth graders," said board member Lehman Smith.

Taylor said the preliminary responses received have been favorable.

"We went out to every school, talked to every principal. They all agreed that this was a good approach to take to make a positive impact," he said. Principals then conveyed the information to their staffs and have shared the information with Advisory Councils and parenting groups, he said.

"We have not to this point received any negative feedback. We think that it's time to do this. We feel like the approach is good and that the end result would be positive."