Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.
In just his second year on the job at Madison County Central School (MCCS), Principal David Chambers has tendered his resignation. The resignation was accepted by the Madison County District School Board during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7. The resignation has an effective date of Friday, Nov. 10.
MCCS has been a consistently low-performing school for several years and had recently been the subject of scrutiny by the State Department of Education. With the passing of sweeping education legislation by the state legislature earlier this year, MCCS was facing the very real prospect of being turned over to an outside charter school company for operation. In order to avoid that, a Community Assessment Team (CAT) was formed to make recommendations for MCCS. This CAT is comprised of community leaders, business leaders, parents and school personnel. Pastor George Williams is acting as chair for the CAT, Pastor Jason Justus is the Co-chair. Other members of the team included Alston Kelley, Sherlyn Pickles, Rene Demps, Merv Mattair, Brian Kauffman, Darren Webb, Gladney Cherry, Beth Ebberson, Gwen Hubbard, Tommie Bodenstein, Gina Rutherford, Dianne Head, Annette Johnson, Amy Barfield, T.J. Jones, Emily Dickey, Mimi Replogle and Andy Barnes.
The CAT has made the recommendation that MCCS form an external partnership with MGT Consulting Group from Tallahassee. Forming an external partnership is one of the three option given to consistently low-performing schools by the education legislation. The team determined that this external partnership was the only way to maintain local control. “[This] partnership with you, as a board, you will [still] have a say,” said CAT Co-chair Justus. According to Williams, there will still be a great need for more involvement among the parents of MCCS students.
The CAT made the recommendation that the board pursue a two-year contract with MGT Consulting Group. During the meeting, the School Board voted unanimously to negotiate a two-year contract with MGT Consulting. Once a contract has been formulated, it will be brought to the board for final approval.
MCCS must improve their school grade to at least a “C” or higher this year, if any form of local control over the school is to continue. According to information provided by the Madison County School District, “If MCCS does not improve the school grade to a 'C' or higher, then the outside entity would become the external operator of MCCS for the 2018-2019 school year. This would mean the external operator would assume control of MCCS for the duration of the contract.” Madison County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Pickles said that MGT has no desire to permanently operate MCCS. “They [MGT] want to come in, help fix the school, then get out,” said Pickles.
Pickles stated that working with an external consultant may present a challenge to finding someone to fill the vacant Principal's position at MCCS. The School Board will re-examine the job description for the position of Principal. MGT has pledged its assistance in the search for a new Principal at MCCS. In the interim, Assistant Principals Beth Moore, Kali Bass and Jada Williams are helping with the day to day administration of the school.