08/07/06 — Principal responds to judge's statement

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Principal responds to judge's statement

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 7, 2006 1:54 PM

Judge Howard Manning Jr. has the power to close schools that are not performing satisfactorily, but Goldsboro High School Principal Patricia Burden said local efforts are in line with what he has requested.

In a speech Friday at a leadership conference for principals in Chapel Hill, Manning maintained his stance about closing 17 of the state's low-performing high schools this year unless improvements are made.

Ms. Burden was among principals from the 17 schools who were in the audience, having attended the two-week leadership training program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Also there were about 70 principals and assistant principals from other schools.

Manning's message targeted the principals of the 17 schools. He talked briefly about the upcoming hearing to determine the schools' fate -- scheduled for Aug. 18 -- and the constitutional rights of students to receive a quality education.

"He seemed very serious about what his concerns are about public education," Ms. Burden said today.

Several initiatives are being implemented at the school, she said. In addition to addressing the school's instructional program, there will be a Freshman Academy for incoming high school students and year-long classes to address the rigor and relevancy in some subject areas.

There are also programs being introduced at the middle school level to ready students for high school and eventually college.

GEAR-UP and AVID are two of the models being used at Dillard Middle School, she said, with the idea being to reach students who have the potential for continuing on the college path. In addition to monitoring their academic progress, students are afforded the opportunity to visit college campuses and parents are involved in the process by discussing financial aid options and making college a reality.

"Judge Manning does feel that everyone should have the opportunity to receive a college education," Ms. Burden said.

The first group of middle school students involved in the college preparatory program are now eighth-graders, Ms. Burden said. Once they reach high school, the program will follow through.

"We've already sent a teacher to training this year so she can become knowledgeable about the program," she said, adding that there will also be a program coordinator in place at the high school.

With the ultimate goal of enhancing the performance of students at Goldsboro High School, Ms. Burden said, "We are pleased that we are progressing each and every year but we are not satisfied with where we are."

Enhancing performance in the ABCs test scores, Ms. Burden said that doing that will require enhancing the instructional program and motivating the students to engage in the learning process.

Ms. Burden said she appreciated being in the audience to hear Judge Manning's remarks.

"I was privileged to be able to hear him face to face," she said. "But it has not changed the direction that we're going to take Goldsboro High School for the coming year.

"I don't have any control over Judge Manning. He has the power to make whatever decision he feels he has to make. But I am aware of what his concerns are and will lead Goldsboro High School in whatever direction impacts us and that is where I am going."

That means making some changes at the school, she said.

"We are proceeding as we have indicated to Judge Manning that we are going to proceed. To address the concerns that we have and that are also in line with some of the concerns that he has," she said.