Friday, July 12, 2013

EDITORIAL >> PCSSD split is a win-win

Over the years, the Pulaski County special School District has been, to say the least, a bit unkind and unfair to Jacksonville—sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose and sometimes egregiously.

But lately the district has done a few things right. First, it is supporting Jacksonville’s efforts to become its own school district. Granted it’s more in the county district’s financial interest rather than believing the separation is best for all students concerned.

If Jacksonville doesn’t get its own district soon, then PCSSD will have to start replacing the outdated, decrepit and just plain old schools in Jacksonville. If PCSSD is forced to build a new school, it will have to cover more than 90 percent of the cost, but if Jacksonville gets its own district, then the state will ask the city to pay only about half the cost for a new school.

So Jacksonville breaking away would be a financial lifesaver to PCSSD.

Even though the reasons PCSSD is backing Jacksonville’s efforts for a new district are far from altrusitic, it is still the right thing to do.

The second positive coming from PCSSD lately is the hiring of two new principals: Bill Barnes for Jacksonville High School and Lourdes Goodnight for the city’s middle school. Both come enthused, sleeves rolled up and ready to work.

For Barnes, it’s a job that he wanted 29 years ago and it’s a job that drew him out of a three-year retirement. He is rested, pumped and ready to bring Jacksonville back to its glory days.

“This school was the jewel of the district at one time and it has the potential to do so again,” he has told the Leader.

Goodnight pulled no punches at a recent city council meeting, letting aldermen know that she was tired of seeing the middle school at the bottom when it came to benchmark scores.

“That’s not going to happen anymore. Playtime is over,” she told the council.

Goodnight comes to the school with an impressive background in curriculum and spends her days hiring just the right person to be the vice principal who will focus on discipline. She plans to make it a one-two punch at the middle school.

Both Barnes and Goodnight said one of the reasons for applying for their respective positions was the incredible backing of the community. Both Barnes and Goodnight said it was something they had not experienced before and were looking forward to having that extra support in the coming months.

The addition of Barnes and Goodnight, along with a topnotch core of elementary principals — including Dr. Janice Walker at Warren Dupree and Kristen Beach at Arnold Drive — bodes well for Jacksonville and most importantly, the city’s students.