Optimization for Enrollment
1. Will Barack Obama Elementary School close?
No, Barack Obama Elementary will remain open; it will be relocated to Northwest IB Middle School. Moving to a new site will allow the District to increase the enrollment at Barack Obama IB Elementary School.
2. As schools close and combine with other schools, will class sizes increase?
No, as we combine schools, we will also rezone to ensure that class sizes do not exceed the allowable teacher/student ratio.
3. Concerning bond money, why did repairs commence so late, and were the funds not allocated for school improvements?
The bond's purpose was to address the deficiencies cited in the 2016 Investigative Audit conducted by the MDE (Mississippi Department of Education).
The scope of the school improvement construction projects that emerged from the audit was in many cases complex, requiring several months of development and planning.
As such, the designed construction projects required on average 90 to 120 days (about 4 months) to comply with state statute requirements for bidding and awarding of construction contracts to vendors.
So, while it may seem as though repair projects commenced late from outside, it should be noted that many months of design, bid, legal and approval activity have taken place before the actual construction may begin.
Unfortunately, the impact of the pandemic held up many construction projects due to sharp increases in prices, that pushed some projects over budget, delays in the availability of parts and materials and reduced the number of available sub-contractors willing to bid projects.
4. With the closing of a high school and a middle school, what will the District put in place to address the safety and security concerns of students and staff as there are community issues that may exist?
JPS (Jackson Public School) is committed to hiring additional staff to support the receiving school’s administration in developing a positive climate and culture with the receiving students and staff. Also, the District will implement strategies that will support an environment conducive to teaching and learning, reflective of our Core Value of a Positive and Respectful Culture.
5. How will this plan impact teachers and staff—specifically, reassignments versus RIF (Reduction in Force)?
Based on our annual attrition rate, we expect the optimization plan to have minimal impact on teachers and staff.
6. How will this plan push class load sizes for teachers? Will it move the ratio towards the max, or to some other number?
The optimization plan may impact class loads at some schools, however, in most cases, our classrooms will not be at allowable capacity based on accreditation standards. The nuances are being considered with the school closure process, along with needed rezoning efforts.
7. How does the plan transition students moving from one rival school to another in a safe way?
Tailored to the unique needs of each affected school, the District is committed to offering comprehensive support and implementing effective strategies. This will enable scholars to not only adapt but also flourish within their respective educational environments.
8. Will there be support for teachers as student-to-teacher ratios go up, and what kinds of support will be offered? Will this support be given primarily to elementary and middle schools, or would high schools be involved as well?
Based on the needs of each impacted school, the District will provide the schools with the support and strategies needed for scholars to continue to thrive in their respective educational environment. This will entail the review of behavior and other relevant data to determine the needs of the school.
9. Is there an opportunity for JPS to highlight the failure Charter schools are having currently?
While charter schools are permitted to operate in accordance with Mississippi state regulations, we encourage citizens to engage with their legislators to express any concerns they may have regarding the performance and accountability of charter schools. Our commitment is to excel academically and position JPS as the preferred public school district for the citizens of Jackson.
10. Are there organizations interested in buildings being vetted to ensure that they will support and also sustain community development?
Yes, we have garnered interest from various organizations that are keen on acquiring or managing our school buildings with a focus on ensuring they contribute to and sustain community development. Additionally, we have created a dedicated webpage to promote and showcase the available properties for sale or lease."
- Will JPS generate funding from the utilization of these buildings? If so, how will it be utilized? No, JPS will not generate funding from the utilization of these buildings. Instead, individuals interested in owning, leasing, or operating our school buildings must submit a comprehensive plan along with evidence demonstrating their financial capability to undertake these responsibilities.
- Will plans be in place prior to the demolition of buildings?
Yes, plans will be established before the demolition of buildings. The demolition of closed school buildings is a component of the Optimization plan. Following approval by the school board, we will assess and identify schools for consideration based on their condition. It is our commitment to inform the community well in advance of the demolition process.
11. If locations are empty, who will be responsible for maintaining the areas?
The maintenance of school buildings and their surrounding areas will be the responsibility of each respective property owner or lessee who acquires them from Jackson Public Schools.
12. In response to closing high schools, will JPS have a 9th grade academy like Madison County and Clinton Public School system?
We currently have ninth grade academies operating at various JPS high schools.
13. Is it counterproductive to the success of JPS to provide additional building space to charter schools?
We must adhere to the laws mandated by the state of Mississippi, which grant charter schools the first right of refusal for school district buildings. As per Mississippi regulations, a charter school is afforded the opportunity to purchase or lease a closed public school facility or property at or below fair market value, should the school district decide to sell or lease such assets. Additionally, in the case of a successful conversion charter school application, the local school district owning the conversion charter school's facility is obligated to extend an offer to lease or sell the building to the conversion charter school at or below fair market value.
14. What process will be put into place to support the integration of different communities in one building?
As we undertake the consolidation of schools, we recognize the significance of promoting a seamless integration of diverse communities within a single building. Our objective is to facilitate a positive and smooth transition that honors and celebrates the distinct identities of each community involved. To address any potential conflicts, our handbook contains specific policies that govern such situations, and we are committed to addressing them directly and decisively. Additionally, we are actively engaged in various initiatives aimed at supporting young people in making positive choices, underscoring our dedication to fostering a harmonious and inclusive school environment.
15. Will central office staffing be reduced to reflect a reduced school population?
Yes, the Optimization Plan encompasses adjustments to our central office staffing to align with the decrease in student enrollment and the corresponding reduction in school staff resulting from school closures.
16. How would you feel if this was your school being proposed to be closed?
As a member of the school community, we empathize with the concerns and emotions that may arise when a school closure is proposed. The decision to close a school is never easy, and it profoundly impacts students, parents, teachers, and the broader community. It is our commitment to ensure that the decision-making process is transparent, inclusive, and that all stakeholders have an opportunity to voice their thoughts and concerns. Our goal is to work collaboratively to explore alternative solutions, mitigate the impact on the affected individuals, and uphold the best interests of the entire school community during this challenging time.
17. If Wingfield or any of the schools get demolished, how would that affect the community?
The potential demolition of Wingfield High School or any other school within our district is a significant consideration, and we understand the deep ties between a community and its schools. Such a decision could have various impacts on the community, including the loss of a central gathering place, the disruption of established traditions, and the potential change in the neighborhood's character.
18. Will the school closures allow JPS to open its Special Programs to more students?
Yes, the closures and consolidations of schools will generate additional revenue, enabling JPS to broaden access to our Special Programs and expand academic offerings district-wide.
19. If Green Elementary becomes an art school, will there be an increase in its student population? We do anticipate an increase in enrollment at Green Elementary if it is transformed into a competitive arts-based academic program.
Yes, we do anticipate a rise in enrollment at Green Elementary if it undergoes a transformation into a competitive arts-based academic program.
- If so, where will the additional students be coming from?
Admission would be open to all students who meet the requirements.
- Will students from other school zones be able to participate in the arts program at Green Elementary?
This has not been determined but will be given consideration.
- Will there be a cut off number of students for the arts program at Green Elementary?
Similar to any academic program, enrollment in a possible arts program at Green Elementary would be based on the availability of adequate staffing.
- Will there be equity between school zones of students who want to attend the Green Elementary arts program?
We would implement fair and transparent enrollment processes, considering various factors to promote inclusivity and equal opportunities for students across different school zones.
20. Will you guarantee whether or not schools will be leased, borrowed or handed over to charter schools in the state of Mississippi?
We will adhere to the laws mandated by the state of Mississippi, which grant charter schools the first right of refusal for school district buildings. As per Mississippi regulations, a charter school is afforded the opportunity to purchase or lease a closed public school facility or property at or below fair market value, should the school district decide to sell or lease such assets. Additionally, in the case of a successful conversion charter school application, the local school district owning the conversion charter school's facility is obligated to extend an offer to lease or sell the building to the conversion charter school at or below fair market value.
21 In the event of a delay in preparing Bailey APAC for students and staff to inhabit the renovated building by August 2024, is it feasible to postpone the reopening until the subsequent year to prevent disruptions to students during the school year?
We will factor in this consideration while planning for the relaunch of the newly renovated Bailey APAC Middle School.
22. Where are the kids going to go if the school closures happen?
If school closures are implemented, we will undergo a reconfiguration of our school zones. Once the plan is approved, we will inform our families about the designated schools their children will need to attend.
23. Could we possibly purchase other land in the Jackson to build schools instead of moving forward with this proposal to close schools?
We have considered the construction of new school buildings, subject to the availability of funding. However, it’s important to acknowledge that this process will require time and may not immediately address our existing issues of declining enrollment and the financial burden associated with maintaining numerous school buildings.
24. Why is it seemingly that most of the school closures are slated for south Jackson?
The decision to focus on school closures in South Jackson is rooted in the evidence-driven Optimization Plan, which draws upon comprehensive data and research. This data highlights factors such as declining enrollment, the substantial costs linked to restoring school buildings, the necessity for staffing stabilization, the drive to enhance and innovate schools and programs, the goal of boosting competitiveness in academics, athletics, and the arts, the strategy to increase Title 1 funds per school, and the effort to decrease building-related costs through the sale, lease, or demolition of surplus properties.
25. Why was it chosen at the beginning of the school year to drop the bomb that the teachers and the entire learning community about the proposed changes?
We understand the concerns about the timing of the announcement, and we empathize with the impact it may have on teachers and the learning community. First, we needed to research and collect the data to support such a recommendation. By sharing this information early in the year, we aim to provide ample time for open dialogue, engagement, and collaboration with teachers, parents, and the broader learning community. This approach allows us to work together to explore potential solutions, address concerns, and ensure a shared understanding as we navigate these proposed changes.
26. How can you propose teachers to stay motivated and maintain a successful school when their future is uncertain due to the proposal to close and consolidate up to 16 schools?
We recognize that the proposal to close and consolidate schools may create uncertainty for our teachers. To address this, we are committed to providing transparent communication throughout the process. Additionally, we will offer professional development opportunities, mentorship programs, and support networks to help teachers navigate this period of change. Our goal is to foster a collaborative and positive environment, acknowledging the dedication of our teachers and their crucial role in maintaining a successful school despite the uncertainties.
27. If you are closing schools in Jackson, Mississippi, how is that going to be inviting to students who are moving into Jackson?
The decision to close schools is part of a comprehensive plan aimed at optimizing resources, enhancing educational opportunities, and ensuring long-term sustainability. Efforts will be made to showcase the vibrant community, diverse programs, and extracurricular activities that make Jackson an appealing destination for students and families.
28. If Bailey APAC is not opened for fall 2024, what other options would be considered for students and staff of that school?
Given construction timelines, there will likely be a two-year phased-in approach to the full implementation of the Optimizing for Equity plan. For example, our contractors at Bailey APAC Middle School indicate that the planned renovations and construction should be complete by September 1, 2024. As of November 10, the Bailey project is 13% complete. With school starting in early August, the Bailey building will not be ready in time and will continue to be co-located with Northwest IB Middle School for the 2024-2025 school year.
29. Can you provide an update on the construction of Bailey APAC and when the school will be open for students?
The contract construction completion date for Bailey APAC is September 1, 2024.