Thursday, June 29, 2017
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JCBO to vote on PRV school closure

The Jackson County Board of Education will vote on Thursday afternoon regarding the closure of Paint Rock Valley High School.

Last week Superintendent Kevin Dukes along with all department heads, held a press conference and a question and answer session.

Dukes explained that on January 23 the JCBOE voted to temporarily allow an exception to the enrollment policy for Paint Rock Valley High School. Since that time, five students have withdrawn and five students, two of which are the new principal’s children, have enrolled. This brings enrollment to 77. There are four students in Kindergarten; seven students in first grade; eight students in second grade; six students in third grade; six students in fourth grade; four students in fifth grade; six students in sixth grade; eight students in seventh grade; six students in eighth grade; six students in ninth grade; four students in tenth grade; six students in eleventh grade; and five students in twelfth grade. There are currently no seniors on campus, each senior completed their course work at Christmas. Eight of the ten Juniors and Sophomore’s attend tech school. Currently the average cost per student within Jackson County is $8,379.94, with the exception of Paint Rock Valley students. Their cost per student is approximately $13,850. According to the 2016 ACT Aspire 10 State test 0% of students are ready or exceeding in both Math and Reading.

Currently the school has five elementary teachers, one and a half high school teachers, a full time counselor, a secretary, two lunchroom workers, three bus drivers and one custodian. Dukes’ proposal would include changing the school zoning lines and transferring students to Woodville or Skyline. Dukes stated that all tenured personnel would be placed in one of these two schools for the first year, if the school closes. According to Anthony Buckner, who is over the JCBOE instruction, this would open up additional opportunities for students at both schools to receive additional advanced classes, that otherwise they are not staffed to teach. Transportation Department Supervisor John Kirby explained that he has been looking at the bus routes currently run in Paint Rock Valley. Kirby stated that the routes have been looked at a couple of ways, but ultimately, the board will set the lines. Bus route times currently range from 35 to 75 minutes in PRV. Kirby says 70-80 minute bus routes are not abnormal in Jackson County. Kirby stated that a few students rides might increase and a few ides might decrease, but neither would be drastically. Kirby explained that the mileage might increase by a few miles. However, Kirby stated that this will not cost the JCBOE more because the State Board of Education reimburses transportation cost at a rate of 80 percent.

In 2010, retired Superintendent Ken Harding received a letter from the Alabama Department of Education which stated, “I strongly recommend that the board consider action to close Paint Rock Valley High School at the end of this year”. In April, 2017, Superintendent Kevin Dukes received a letter from the Department of Education which stated in part, “Now is the time to remember and preserve Paint Rock’s wonderful legacy and time to move ahead with decisions that will benefit the students of the school and the school district. There is probably no one in Jackson County that does not agree that keeping the school open is a drain on district resources. The state only allocates 8.3 teachers for the entire school. A principal and counselor are included in that number. Staffing and maintaining a school of that size is not a sustainable fiduciary model. Additionally, most would agree that students would have many more academic, social and athletic opportunities at a larger school. Looking at the student population for the last 20 years, one can observe a steady decline. Today, a school this small would not receive a cost center number from the Alabama State Department of Education.” It ends by stating, “Paint Rock Valley’s history of service to the community and its students should be preserved, but the greater good demands that the school be closed.”

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