Dothan’s school board appears to be leaning to the last proposed school restructuring scenario -- one that calls for a consolidation of Dothan's two high schools -- although a decent amount of discussion remains.
Board members Monday all mentioned Scenario 5 as a viable option, although many mentioned other scenarios as their most preferred.
Chairman Mike Schmitz, Brenda Guilford from District One, Brett Strickland from District Four, Amy Bonds from District Five and Chris Maddox from District Six all selected scenarios three and five as their top two choices. Susan Vierkandt from District Three chose scenarios one and five, and Franklin Jones from District two selected scenarios two and five.
Scenario 5 features a kindergarten through sixth grade elementary school system including facilities such as Selma Street, Beverlye, Hidden Lake, Carver, Girard Elementary, Girard Middle, Kelly Springs, Slingluff, Highlands, and Heard.
After sixth grade, students then move on to what can be considered preparatory in nature, for seventh through ninth grades at Dothan High.
Finally, tenth through twelfth graders will complete their high school education at Northview High School.
Most of the board members mentioned they favored 5, with the addition of a phasing plan dubbed “5A”, that would first consolidate the elementary schools and then slowly merge the middle and high schools to match the full scenario five plan.
Additionally, there is a possibility of scenario 5 including Carver Magnet, that would teach students from third to sixth grade, and Jerry Lee Faine as an elementary school that would possibly integrate with Carver for weekly or bi-weekly combined science classes. However, Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Edwards noted further details on scenario five could be determined once the board decides which direction they want to go.
Describing the current state of resources among all of the schools as “watered down,” Edwards said consolidating the schools creates an abundance of resources. Edwards gave an example of teachers, reading coaches, and enough students to maintain an honors, AP, or dual-enrollment courses in certain subjects at the high school level.
“In looking at proficiency levels I see that we are below where we need to be in reading and math,” said Edwards. “We must be honest about where we are.”
Edwards also said Hurricane Michael hastened the need for changes in the Dothan school system, regardless of what proposed scenario is chosen.
Edwards noted the storm only magnified an existing need to update nearly all of the city schools buildings. Edwards said everyone involved in the upkeep of the buildings need to be more proactive in getting buildings in functioning shape.
Edwards also stated the priority at the core of the consolidation process is to increase student achievement. However, funding is needed to be able to provide all students with exceptional learning opportunities.
Schmitz added at the end of the meeting in addition to the Nov. 8th work session, there will be a public question and answer session on Nov. 15, from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Beverlye Magnet auditorium. It was also confirmed an official vote on the consolidation process will be held Nov. 26, at the Beverlye Magnet auditorium at 5:30 p.m.