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Magnet school forums set to begin - Dothan Eagle: News

Magnet school forums set to begin

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Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013 4:45 pm

Public forums on plans to realign Dothan’s four middle schools are set to begin Monday.

Dothan City School Superintendent Tim Wilder will unveil proposals to eliminate the city’s two middle magnet schools – Carver Magnet School and Beverlye Magnet School – and transition to having four neighborhood middle schools.

Wilder has said the current system, which has two magnet schools and two regular middle schools, does not give students equal opportunities, and a neighborhood school plan with honors academies at each would be more equitable.

In November, preliminary proposals were released that showed each school would have regular classes and honors classes in core academic subjects. Students would also have the opportunity to apply for acceptance in an honors academy of world languages, an honors academy of engineering, an academy of visual arts or an academy of music at each school. The schools would also offer career exploratory classes.

Students would begin being tested for placement in the academic core honors classes in fifth grade, and students who scored well enough could begin in one or more core subject honors classes in the sixth grade. Current average grades in each subject and teacher recommendations would also factor into placement.

Students who didn’t make the cut could gain entry into honors classes based on further testing and evaluation as they progress through middle school.

To get into honors engineering and world languages academy, students would have to be in honors academic courses related to those fields. Entry into the arts and music academies would depend on a portfolio or audition.

According to the preliminary plan, students in the engineering or world languages academies could earn high school algebra I credit or foreign language credit in the eighth grade.

The forum Monday night will be held at 5 p.m. at Honeysuckle Middle School. Subsequent forums will be held on Feb. 28 at Carver Magnet School, March 4 at Girard Middle School and March 11 at Beverlye Magnet School. All meetings will be held at 5 p.m.

Since Wilder announced plans to realign the middle schools last year, the plans have attracted vigorous opposition from local residents who fear the realigned middle schools will be detrimental to racial balances at the schools and student achievement. Concerns have also been expressed that the move would trigger a large exodus of middle class students for private school.