04/13/09 — Best: Put bosses back in classes

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Best: Put bosses back in classes

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 13, 2009 1:41 PM

If the county school system has so many administrators and guidance counselors that it requires closing half of a school to house them, then perhaps they could be utilized to help tutor students in the lower grades, Commissioner Jack Best said this month.

Best made his remarks during the commissioners' comments portion of the board's April 7 session.

When it became Commissioner John Bell's time to comment, he joked that he was yielding his time to Commissioner Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the county schools.

"With what Mr. Best has said today, many of the staff that he is talking about, I'd like to ask that we have a report about what they actually do and what their roles are," she said. "It is similar to what Mr. (Jim) Roosen (county Health Department director) was saying about the Health Department, a mixture of things are required to serve the children.

"I think that (report) would open a lot of the public's eye as well as the people here about that. The other things Ms. Best talked about we have had conversations and will continue to have them."

Best said commissioners had been criticized by some Board of Education members, as well as member of his own board, for recently allowing Charles Wright to address school issues.

Wright, an unsuccessful candidate for the school board, complained there are too many empty classrooms.

"He was somewhat right in that the school board has chosen to turn half of Goldsboro Intermediate School into administrative offices," Best said. "They have been able to take children out of that school and put them in another school."

Best said that when he was growing up the school held more than 700 students, "a pretty good-sized student body."

Yet, he said, the school system was able to take half of that school and make it into offices.

Best said Wright, like every citizen, has a right to speak.

"I want to make a suggestion if we have got that many administrative people and/or counselors that we have to take half of a whole school to make offices out of," Best said. "We have some problems in some of the lower schools. I think we ought to take these people and utilize them a little bit to the point that I think the school board ought to look at it and seriously."

Best said county schools officials tout the fact that 80 percent of their students go on to higher education.

That number is arrived at in a "kind of funny" way, he said.

"They don't do it so much by transcript as they do it by asking people," Best said. "It is kind of an intimidating question to ask a student.

"Even so, I believe we have a large amount of our students going to higher education. One of the greatest things Wayne County has going for it is Wayne Community College. The problem about going to Wayne Community College for the majority of these students is that 62 percent (who) enrolled with a Wayne County high school education have to take remedial reading and remedial math."

That, he said, is a high percentage.

"If you add it to our dropout rate whether it is 5 percent, 20 percent or 30 percent, who only knows, it is a pretty good percent of our students who have missed the opportunity in the early grades to learn to read properly and to be able to do studies.

"My suggestion, and it is only a suggestion, and I know they won't take it because they don't take any of my suggestions, take all of their administrative people and guidance counselors at least two to three hours a day and put them down in the lower schools to help tutor these students and really give them a great base in reading.

"Some of these students don't have mothers and daddies to read to them at night. This is their only opportunity to get a one-on-one or two-on- one, or three-on-one."

The county has tutors, just not enough of them, he said. The schools need to concentrate on the basics of reading, writing, math, he said.

"If they have got that many administrative people and that many guidance counselors, utilize part of their time to get the young kids on the right track," Best said.

Another interesting statistic, Best said, is that 65 percent of the people in jail do not have a high school education.

"Without a high school education it is pretty hard to get a job, Best said.