Change is moving throughout the Dothan City School system quickly but carefully, the system’s superintendent said Monday.
Less than a month after the Board of Education’s historic vote to restructure the system, officials are moving quickly to identify principals, school-specific curriculum, maintenance and repair needs, transportation routes and dozens of other matters that must be complete before the 2019-20 school year.
The board granted Supt. Dr. Phyllis Edwards the authority Monday to explore issuing a $15 million bond which would go toward building repairs and upgrades. Monday’s vote simply gave Edwards the authority to move forward. Edwards said she would return to the board when details of the issue are closer to fruition.
Board member Chris Maddox said he was confident the bond money would be used for necessary repairs, but said the system would need to be transparent in the repair needs.
“I think the public will expect us to show a pretty detailed account given the size of what we are borrowing. I am not worried about it not being used correctly, but we need to come up with a method to be transparent and show how that is going to be spent,” Maddox said.
“We are already down the road cataloguing the work that needs to be done,” Edwards said. “I have no qualms about laying out … what the details are and getting that out so people can see.”
Edwards said an earlier review has already identified more than $15 million in repair needs, many of them roofing and HVAC issues. However, a top to bottom inspection of all school grounds is being conducted, and many other issues have been identified including the condition of gym bleachers, the operation of fire extinguishers, condition of gym floors, parking lot striping, consistency of cleanliness from school to school and others.
Edwards said she was surprised to see many needs that appeared to have been neglected over time.
“It’s not just about safety. Of course it is about safety but it is about much more than that,” Edwards said. “It’s about morale. We better start thinking a little bit better in the message we are sending our students. It matters.”
Edward said many other issues regarding school change are moving forward, including:
» School name, mascot and colors: Edwards said students from Dothan High School and Northview High School have conducted meetings to discuss the matters and said the students will make a recommendation to the board in the near future.
» Signature school identification: Edwards said principals are currently considering which signature will identify the city’s elementary schools. A signature showcase is scheduled for January that will allow teachers and other the opportunity to receive more information about international baccalaureate, expeditionary learning and other potential signatures.
» The lone magnet school: Edwards said a recommendation is expected next month on criteria for enrollment in the Carver Math/Science Magnet School.
» Transportation and athletics: The board approved job descriptions for two new positions, a transportation routing specialist and a system-wide athletic director.
Edwards said many of the restructuring decisions must be made in a specific sequence.
“It’s like the hardest jigsaw puzzle you have ever done,” Edwards said. “We’re moving forward and we are not wasting time. Doesn’t mean we are not doing things carefully and meticulously. We are structuring ourselves to keep moving.”