09/15/09 — School board OKs coach for Goldsboro High School

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School board OKs coach for Goldsboro High School

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 15, 2009 1:46 PM

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Ninth-grade Goldsboro High School student Jamarius Bryant, right, 10th-grade student Zhalandria Moore, left, and ninth-grade student Rodney Greenfield raise their hands in their home room class this morning. The Wayne County Board of Education on Monday unanimously agreed to hire a graduation coach for the school in an effort to improve its graduation rate.

Communities in Schools was given the green light by the Board of Education Monday night to hire a graduation coach at Goldsboro High School.

The board entered into a memorandum of agreement with CIS, which will hire and be responsible for training and supervision of the employee.

"We are ready to go for the current school year," Sudie Davis, executive director of CIS, told the board.

She and Mike Haney, Wayne County Development Alliance existing industry specialist, addressed the board with the proposal. In early August, they had made their case before the city council, which pledged $29,000 to the pilot program. By month's end, the county commission voted to match the amount.

Haney said the initiative would benefit Goldsboro High, which has a 47 percent graduation rate. He told the board he became familiar with the pilot program while on vacation, and was impressed with the success rate it had already shown in Georgia.

Teaming up with Mrs. Davis and Communities in Schools, he challenged the school board to "stand shoulder to shoulder to make a difference for these students at Goldsboro High School."

Calling the program the only dropout prevention program with research behind it, Mrs. Davis said Communities in Schools, which trained the graduation coaches in Georgia, will provide technical assistance and training here.

Among the resources used will be the CIS data management system as well as reliance on volunteers, parents and guardians.

The program is expected to reduce the number of suspensions, to improve attendance and performance and to create positive work behaviors while participating in service learning activities, Mrs. Davis said.

A proposed advisory council was also mentioned, and the goal is to provide services for at least 75 percent of the school's population, she added.

"We will work to make sure that none of the students will fall through the cracks," she said.

The Communities in Schools board has also strongly backed the efforts to bring a graduation coach to GHS, Mrs. Davis said.

"This is an opportunity for our community to come together to provide student support services for GHS students," she said. "The ultimate goal would be to help GHS students learn, stay in school and prepare for life."

The school board unanimously voted to enter the agreement. Thelma Smith did not attend Monday's meeting. There was no discussion, but a few questions.

Board member Dave Thomas told Mrs. Davis, "I want you to know I really support this and am really glad you all are doing this. After this year, are there any plans for the funding for this coach?"

"We're going to be working on it, Dave," Mrs. Davis replied.

Board member Rick Pridgen applauded the project.

"Thank you for your hard work and lobbying efforts with the community and the city council and helping make this possible for us," he said. "It's very exciting to know that there's a lot of folks out there that want to help."

Mrs. Davis said it was something she felt "passionately and strongly" about and was delighted that the opportunity was coming to fruition.

Schools superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor asked if background checks and drug tests are conducted on potential hires.

"Yes, we do that, absolutely," Mrs. Davis said.

"Have you been able to complete your interview process?" board member Shirley Sims asked.

Mrs. Davis said they already have a candidate in mind and are close to finalizing the process.

"It's a retired Wayne County Public Schools employee," she said. "That person is doing the last-minute checking with the state to make sure it does not affect retirement. Providing everything goes smoothly from here on, I think everyone will be very pleased."

According to the memorandum, the partnership will be between CIS, WCPS and GHS, allowing for community partnerships, volunteer resources, dropout prevention programs and services.

In addition to the "Level One prevention services" provided for the bulk of the student body, provided at least eight times a year, it stated, "At least 10 percent of enrolled students will receive targeted and sustained intervention services offered by CIS of Wayne County."