Cloverdale Elementary School

JAY HARE/DOTHAN EAGLE

Cloverdale Elementary is one of the schools slated for closure in the Dothan Schools restructuring scenarios. The Superintendent and board members emphasize nothing is certain at this point.

Dothan City Schools Supt. Dr. Phyllis Edwards has told the public that her job regarding the restructuring of Dothan City Schools is simply to give as many options as possible to the public and board members.

A decision is expected in late October or November.

While Edwards has said some options may result in better outcomes, she still believes each option has one quality or another that outshines the rest.

Scenario 2 is one such option. It keeps students grouped together longer than the other scenarios, which Edwards said could be beneficial in many ways. However, parents have concerns about mixing such diverse age groups in school settings.

Scenario 2 keeps with the theme of cutting middle schools as seen in Scenario 1. However, instead of a preparatory school, students go from a primary school setting into high school.

The plan features a kindergarten through eighth grade system which utilizes schools including; Girard Elementary, Girard Middle School, Beverlye, Hidden Lake, Selma Street, Heard, Highlands, Kelly Springs, Slingluff, and Carver. In this plan, after students complete eighth grade they go to either Dothan or Northview High School (depending on zone) to complete grades nine through twelve. Additionally, Honeysuckle serves both as a pre-kindergarten location and central office.

This plan keeps 12 schools open, in comparison to the 11 facilities kept open in Scenario 1. Since two high schools remain open, two separate athletic programs would remain, with both most likely competing at the 6A level for some time.

While the scenario has its supporters, some parents are concerned about keeping eighth grade students on campuses with younger children.

Dothan City Schools Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Edwards disagrees, and believes the layout could in fact protect innocence and youth in DCS students.

“(Eighth graders) are just kids, I mean, they’re not interested in doing anything detrimental,” Edwards said. “Why not keep our kids, kids as long as possible? Why not aid them throughout their development in a nurturing environment, instead of sending them to middle school where they have to face those changes on their own?”

Edwards also emphasized Scenario 2 has many of the same beneficial properties as Scenario 1 including neighborhood schools which save transportation costs, fewer transitions for students, cross-grade groupings for collaborative projects, and the reduced risk of losing middle school students to the private education sector.

Edwards mentioned, however, that the model does not offer total racial balance in each school because of their neighborhood locations, which she said is something to consider. Edwards said a close racial balance is beneficial to “improve understanding between the races and in doing so, strengthen Dothan and reduce social tensions.”

Edwards said the key to the school restructuring process is finding a combination of school locations and grade levels that work for as many people as possible.

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