Polk school board says 5 failing schools getting help

said Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd with members of the school board.
said Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd with members of the school board.

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) — Polk County School District leaders say the five schools that the State Board of Education deemed as failing are getting the help they need.

Parent Jay Neaves stood with district leaders during a school board meeting on Monday as they detailed how they plan to save the five schools from closing.

The schools-Denison Middle, Kathleen Middle, Lake Alfred-Addair Middle, Shelley S. Boone Middle and Westwood Middle-were placed on improvement plans as required by the State Board of Education. The schools are all in jeopardy of shutting down if their grades don’t improve.

“I see good administration, I see good teachers, dedicated teachers, I see students, you know, some a little extra help or more support but my daughter is thriving here. I don’t see a failing school. I see a good school,” said Neaves. Neave’s daughter is an 8th grader at Westwood Middle.

The board ordered the district to come up with a turnaround plan earlier this summer. A plan that the district had presented was rejected.

Teacher Doug Barrand says students are worried. “Mr. Barrand, our schools an F, our school is failing. Which we’re not an F, we were pretty much close to a C. I talk to them that the school is not a failing school. That they can’t let it be a reflection on them,” said Barrand.

Today, the district laid out an updated proposal that will go before the board in October.

“We’re ensuring that we have lots of professional development that’s built in for our teachers, which they’re receiving today. We also have an academic management company that will come in and work side by side with our teachers and our principals as they build on the standards and working with our students within our schools,” said Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd.

They’ve also implemented additional planning time for teachers and an early action plan to help struggling students.

Neaves said it’s the parents that need to stand up for their children.

“They need to get involved, they need to care enough about their children and the community to make a difference, because if they’re not going to come nothing is going to change,” she said.

The school district is also adding ten additional after school programs where parents can come and meet with teachers.

Superintendent Byrd asked for volunteers to help tutor students and requested that community and business partners support teachers where needed.

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