08/04/09 — Leaders ask city for GHS graduation coach

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Leaders ask city for GHS graduation coach

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 4, 2009 1:46 PM

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A group of local leaders came before Goldsboro City Council Monday night to ask for $29,000 for a graduation counselor for Goldsboro High School.

Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen called it "terrible."

Family Y executive director John Richards said it was "appalling."

And Wayne County Development Alliance existing industry specialist Mike Haney characterized it as "a waste of resources."

Goldsboro High School's graduation rate -- 47.7 percent -- dominated much of the pre-meeting work session held by the City Council Monday evening.

But for those engaged in the 40-minute discussion, their criticism did not come without a plan they contend would drastically improve that number.

Haney, Richards and Communities in Schools of Wayne County executive director Sudie Davis told the board Monday that something needs to be done to improve the quality of education -- and students -- at GHS.

Their plan: hiring a graduation coach.

"If we can find the funding, the gradation coach would be a Communities in Schools employee who would be trained and supervised by Communities in Schools, but who would be housed at GHS," Mrs. Davis said. "The ultimate goal would be to help GHS students to learn, stay in school and prepare for life."

Haney said addressing the issues at the school is long overdue.

"I don't think by anyone's standards that this is satisfactory," he said of the graduation rate. "So what can we do ... to help these young adults?"

The answer came to him through researching a program he said yielded results in Georgia.

"It's a solid model," he said of the graduation coach program implemented at troubled schools in that state. "And we have this model. It's ready to go."

There is just one catch.

To launch the pilot program at Goldsboro High, one they hope will eventually trickle down to Dillard Middle School, they need funding -- to the tune of $29,000.

At that point, Allen said he didn't quite understand why the three were requesting money from the city government.

"It shouldn't even have to come to us. Look, I support you ... but the point being, it's (the Wayne County School Board's) job. ... To have rates like this I think is terrible. ... But I would want to see you ask them to do it. I want them on the record saying yes or no. I think that's important for the community to know."

"It's important for this board to know," council member Bob Waller added.

But to implement the program, which would require hiring a credible coach and executing the model currently in place, funding would be needed before the school year starts, Haney said.

And getting it from the school board, he added, doesn't seem likely.

Roberts said if funding doesn't come soon, another year will go by with the same scenario likely playing out at GHS.

"This is not good for anybody," he said.

Allen agreed, but was still not convinced that the city should shoulder the financial burden.

"I want you to understand me. I 100 percent applaud and am behind what you're saying and what you're trying to do," he said. "But it's my personal opinion that you're at the wrong board. If the school board says no then I feel like, whoever, we'll help you. ... It needs to be done. ... I'm just not convinced that they ought not be participating. I mean, they've got more money than any of us."

Haney hopes the money comes from somewhere.

For the sake of future development of the county, he said.

"We have industries that come in and that's the first things the wives see," he said. "It hasn't cost us any of those industries coming in, but it's cost us some of the executives moving to Goldsboro and Wayne County."