Gadsden City Council continues to address school board topic

June 2, 2017 chris
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By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

At the May 30  Gadsden City Council meeting, several more Gadsden residents addressed the council about the Gadsden City School Board’s appointments.

On May 9, the Gadsden City Council voted to table a resolution on District 3 Councilman Thomas Worthy’s School Board nominee Zachary Andre’ Huff for 30 days. Huff would replace Lynn Taylor on the Gadsden City School Board.

Taylor made a motion to give notice to Superintendent Dr. Ed Miller that his contract would not be renewed in December. The motion passed with four board members voting for it, and three leaving the meeting.

The main question is whether the school system would benefit from a new superintendent, with some citing positive examples of what is happening in the schools and others presenting information that students in Gadsden City are not performing as well as the rest of the state.

The first citizen to address the city council about the school board was Helene Haller. She asked council members to stop “to see the accomplishments of the superintendent in our system.” Haller cited the schools’ financial surplus since 2009 and Gadsden City High’s senior class receiving over 9 million dollars in scholarships as examples. She also cited several programs in the school system that help students learn and acheive. She implored the council to “put in the school board that is ready to move ahead for all children.”

The second citizen that addressed the school board was Carey Mayes, who talked about his experience as a second grader in 1972 when Brown vs. The Board of Education “made its way to Gadsden.” Mayes said that the racial profile of his classroom went from all white to about 50/50, and that as a child he didn’t care. He did notice that some of his friends from the previous year weren’t there anymore. Parents had moved their children to other schools to avoid integration.

“I’ll never forget what she said to me,” said Mayes. “She said ‘Son, we are all God’s children. We live together. We work together. And from now on, we are going to go to school together.’”

Mayes said that he knows what the school system is capable of, but the community must band together to make it happen. He stated that the school system has no failing schools and that graduation rates have improved. He ended on the note that the city needs to come together with respect for each other.

City Council President Deverick Williams then invited Neonta Williams to speak. Williams is an educational advocate who graduated from the Gadsden Public School system. Neonta presented some statistics on the local school system.

Neonta said that despite the successes previous speakers had mentioned, the Gadsden City School District performance is ranked 95 out of 126 school districts.

“We don’t have a race issue,” said Neonta. “We have a class issue.”

Neonta said that the government uses third grade test scores to predict prison rates for the future.

Neonta provided data that shows that about 40 percent of students in third grade are not performing at grade level for math and about 63 are not at grade level for reading. In eighth grade, about 78 percent of students are not performing at grade level for math and about 59 percent are not at grade level for reading. In 10th grade, about 88 percent of students are not  performing at grade level for math and 74 percent are not at grade level for reading.