02/28/10 — Schools an asset, not liability for BRAC, superintendent says

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Schools an asset, not liability for BRAC, superintendent says

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on February 28, 2010 8:12 AM

Despite claims that the state of Goldsboro High School would present a problem for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in the event of another round of base closures, Wayne County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said the county school system is, in reality, one of the region's top selling points.

In a prepared statement submitted by Taylor at the beginning of the month after he was questioned about BRAC and how the schools might impact a decision regarding the future of Seymour Johnson, he said, "Looking ahead, it is important to note that our schools will positively impact Sey-mour John-son in the next round of the BRAC."

Many local leaders who were at the forefront of BRAC 2005 call this logic flawed and have said that if Seymour Johnson were to ever close, the state of the county schools as a whole -- and Goldsboro High School specifically -- would be the reason.

Taylor's statement reads, "Wayne County Public Schools is very aware of the BRAC, and believes that the efforts going on across the district to support Seymour Johnson AFB will further strengthen the Base in the next round of the BRAC.

"Our staff, administration, and Board of Education work diligently to ensure our schools meet the educational needs of the students who come from families stationed at Seymour Johnson. Being an Air Force community, our schools have a very special appreciation and understanding of the military. More than 1,900 military children are currently enrolled in Wayne County Public Schools. Many of our teachers and volunteers come from the base as well.

"To help ensure the unique needs of these students are met, Wayne County Public Schools has been partnered with Seymour Johnson in the Military Child Education Coalition since 2004. Through policies, Web site resources, participation in information fairs for incoming airmen, and other school-based initiatives, our district is helping military students become better-equipped to handle transitions, the adjustments associated with transfers or a parent's deployment, and to deal effectively with emotional needs at home and at school.

"Schools with higher military-connected populations also have support groups that directly help our students cope with stress and challenges related to being a military dependent. In April, all of our schools celebrate the Month of the Military Child through activities and events that emphasize the important role military children have in our nation's armed forces.

"Another positive factor that will help support the Seymour Johnson in regards to the BRAC is the district's strong working relationship with the Base. Seymour Johnson's School Liaison is an asset to the district and a boon for the Base in meeting the educational needs of military-connected students. Our district administrators and Base leaders also meet quarterly to maintain an open dialogue about our schools and military community. In 2008, North Carolina funded a full-time military counselor position, one of four in the United States, for Wayne County Public Schools. This position has proven to be invaluable in helping our schools better address the needs and challenges faced by military dependents enrolled across the district.

"It is worth noting that our schools attract military families to Goldsboro/Wayne County. It is a fact that airmen who are stationed around the world request Seymour Johnson to enroll special needs children at Edgewood Community Developmental School. Our Wayne School of Engineering, Wayne Early/Middle College High School, and career academies located at each of our traditional high schools are also recent and innovative initiatives that make our district a selling feature to incoming military families. The district's partnership with Wayne Community College, Mount Olive College, the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, and the Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce further reflect the value the district, college, and business communities place on education.

"In regards to academics, Wayne County Public Schools is moving in the right direction. Last year, the district had 27 of 32 schools ... make at least "Expected Growth" ... and 16 of 32 schools ... make "High Growth." ... The performance composites were up for 27 of all 33 schools ... as compared with the year before. Wayne Early/Middle College High was named an "Honor School of Excellence." A record 30 of 33 schools ... made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) -- the highest percentage out of the 20 largest school districts in the state. Of the district's 555 total target goals, 546 goals were met. The district's Cohort Graduation Rate for 2008-09 was 72 percent just above the state average."