Sunday, June 25, 2017
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PRV to remain open for now

The Jackson County Board of Education had a lengthy discussion last week regarding Paint Rock Valley High School (PRV).

Board President Chad Gorham began the meeting by stating that one item on the agenda, the issue of Paint Rock Valley, was a very hard issue. Gorham asked the audience to be respectful during the meeting.

Gorham made a motion to close Paint Rock Valley High School. Board member Angela Guess seconded the motion. Board member Charles West stated that he was impressed with a presentation given by Paint Rock Valley employees regarding a project based program and how they were going to fund it. “I as a board member would like to give them a little more time and see how that is going to work,” said West.

Board member Cecil Gant moved to amend the motion to give Paint Rock Valley time to try out the plan that was presented, for one more year.

Guess stated, “If you’re going to give a school one more year to improve their instructional program, there’s the issue of per pupil funding. Per pupil funding for Paint Rock Valley is well out of the acceptable range, considerably more than any other school. If you want to extend the life of that school, you have to take that into consideration. We are charged with providing equitably throughout our district.”

West stated, “Representative Whorton was there Tuesday night. He said funding was not a problem. The people over there have said they can raise funding to get them through this three year plan that they have.”

Dukes, “That plan was a video. So, we’re basing moving forward from a video. Change this vote based on what we don’t have in our hands right now. If we continue, all this does is continue over and over and over.”

Gorham stated, “The opportunities at PRV have been very limited. If their plan is not 100 percent implemented, the students at PRV are losing more instruction and opportunities for another year.”

Board Member Ken Storey stated, “Before I could go along with Gant’s suggestions, I would have to have numbers. If you don’t have students there, we’re wasting time, keeping the school open for just 21 high school students.”

West argued that bus drivers were going to be working 2 to 2 1/2 hours a day driving a school bus, only making minimum wage. He then argued that children would have to ride a bus through the wind, rain, tornados and snow.

Dukes stated, “The first graduating class at Skyline was 1975. Prior to that the students went to Skyline through 9th grade and then were bussed to PRV or Woodville to complete high school. What’s the difference between then and now? The busses are better, the roads are better.”

West questioned Dukes as to if a survey had been completed to see how many students who are living in the Valley and being transported to Skyline or Woodville? He then stated, “We have a county board policy that says you cannot live in one district and send your kid to another district. We got board policy against that. How many kids have we got like that, that’s driving out of the valley, going to other schools? I think there’s probably six or seven going to Woodville, seven or eight going to Skyline. When we start bussing those kids, we have to provide transportation for all of those that’s carrying their students right now.”

Dukes replied, “Board policy is they can transfer to any school. A Bryant student can go to Macedonia as long as they do it within the first three days of school. You and I have had this discussion.”

West replied, “There may be a lot more than 77 we have to bus out of that valley. We have three busses now, there may be more if we have to bus all of those.”

Gorham stated, “You did say a lot of parents chose to take their children out of PRV school. Why do you think they chose to do that? I’m going to say it’s limited education opportunity at PRV.”

Dukes stated that out of 359 Jackson County employees, 85.8 voted to close the school. Duke’s explained that the survey was confidential and unbiased. West questioned, “Then why did it say it was from the Board of Education, and so many thought it was from the board members? Why did some respond directly to board members?”

Dukes’ replied, “That’s what you were elected to do.”

Storey requested that a proposal regarding Paint Rock Valley school be accepted. Storey proposed that Paint Rock Valley High School be converted to a K-8 school. Storey stated that at one time Macedonia had 74 students and now has 145, Flat Rock had 64 and now 142. Storey explained this would give Paint Rock a chance to have a middle school, rebuild their program and increase enrollment. Storey stated he didn’t feel there was a chance to get their high school back. He further stated he had spoke to several this week who were going to Skyline, three who are sending their kids to Woodville next year. Currently there are 55 in 1-8 and only 21 in 9-12.

West requested that PRV be given one more year. He stated, “If we go to K-8, they’re going to lose all of their sporting programs, they’re going to lose their identity. They want to keep their identity. They want to have a high school and keep a basketball team.” Paint Rock Valley currently has no sport teams.

West continued, “I say we deserve one more year. Whorton said funding was no problems, you can call on him. He made that statement.”

The motion made by Storey to convert Paint Rock Valley to a K-8 school died for lack of a second. The motion to close Paint Rock Valley died when Storey abstained from the vote, Board member Cecil Gant and West voted no on closing the school and Gorham and Guess voted to close the school.

Following the meeting, The Clarion reached out to Representative Whorton and asked where the funding would be coming from. Whorton explained that he has spoken to people and Paint Rock Valley is already funded for the upcoming year. He stated, “Prices to update are way out of line.”

Whorton then explained that he has spoken with Ethan Taylor, an Education Administrator who is going to try to help with the funding. Whorton was also asked if Woodville High School and Skyline High School would receive the same, per student ratio, funding as Paint Rock Valley will. He stated, “Just started talks yesterday. At this point, I only talked about PRV because of the roof and freezer. I will ask for help on all three.”

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